One of the most basic desires known to humankind is to feed our children. It’s hardwired into our brains and hearts and there is little a parent wouldn’t do to feed their young. When children are older it looks like providing meals and helping them make healthy choices. But when you’re holding your newborn, it’s a whole other world.
When I was pregnant, I didn’t think about newborn nutrition too much. I planned to breastfeed my baby and that was it. Little did I know about the challenge breastfeeding would be at first and how I would want to give up and switch to formula. Setting short term goals helped get us through the rough patch and now, a year later, my son is still breastfeeding. For me, it proved to be the right path.
But what if you can’t breastfeed or don’t want to, or at least want to be more informed about newborn nutrition than I was? Read on.
The research all supports the fact that breastmilk is the nutritionally superior choice when compared with formula for the first six months of a baby’s life. Do your best to prepare to give breastfeeding a chance – do some reading and have the number for a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader ready. Set a small goal (my first goal was to get my son to latch on properly – something that took two days) and adjust your expectations as time progresses.
If, due to many different possible circumstances, breastfeeding isn’t working, won’t work, that is ok. Formula is available and there are ways to mimic the intimacy of breastfeeding while bottle feeding.
Some mothers I know have had great success using donor milk, so even though they weren’t breastfeeding their baby was getting breastmilk.
When my son was three days old, we supplemented with formula because he still wasn’t latching well. At the time I felt disappointed, like I had failed, but my baby was fed and I was doing my best. How could that possibly be failure? Remember to be gentle with yourself, and that this exhausting newborn stage will pass.