Let’s start with, HOW YOU CHOOSE TO FEED YOUR BABY IS YOUR CHOICE.
There, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how about a little expectation vs. reality when it comes to feeding your baby these first six weeks.
Ready? Here we go.
EXPECTATION: I’m going to breastfeed because it’s the best for my baby. It’s natural and instinctual.
REALITY: Natural, yes, instinctual…..well, no. Not really. As a species we are far removed from pretty much all of our animal instincts. Combine that with societal pressures of modesty and unrealistic expectations for postpartum recovery, and it can be difficult to get the hang of breastfeeding. If your baby isn’t here yet, borrow a kitten from someone and try to hold it with one arm (be sure to support the head) while opening it’s mouth to brush its teeth and simultaneously keeping it’s paws and tail from getting in the way. Simple right? Luckily teeth and claws are not an issue with newborns, but breastfeeding for the first few weeks can take some serious coordination, (extra hands are helpful) planning (where will you sit, do you have enough pillows to prop you up) and patience (sit still for 10-15 minutes AFTER everything is perfect). Don’t shift! The baby might unlatch. Put a support system in place. If modesty is an issue for you or your guests, tell them to stay away. See an experienced Colorado IBCLC as soon as possible, and take advantage of whatever insurance coverage you have for in home visits. Breastfeeding is extremely rewarding, but those first 6 weeks are extremely important for establishing supply and demand and creating that relationship with your baby.
EXPECTATION: I’m going to bottle feed because it’s easier, cleaner and my partner can help with feedings.
REALITY: The truth is that bottle feeding is a pain. Make sure you buy more bottles than you need. Don’t forget the bottled water, bottle brush, bottle warmer, and bottle sterilizer. Set your alarm for 10 minutes before the baby is suppose to wake so that you have time to make and warm the bottle, or deal with the wrath of a tiny terror who has spent the last 9 months passively getting all their nutrients with no work on their part. They want food and they want it NOW! Repeat every 2-3 hours around the clock. Wash all bottles right away, before the formula starts to stick, and sanitize in boiling water or one of those cool new microwavable sterilizers. Also, set specific times that you and your partner or other help will take shifts, because there’s nothing hungry babies hate more than waiting to be fed while their parents feign sleeping in hopes that the other gets up. Let’s see, also don’t spill the formula all over the floor in the middle of the night and try to remember not to lose random bottle nipples who knows where out in public.
No matter how you feed your baby, there are pros and cons to both. The first 6 weeks is a huge learning curve for everyone and you’re guaranteed to have a few odd things happen. Try to learn to roll with it and be flexible. Sleep deprivation is used as torture for a reason, so get help and plan ahead. Stick with it for the first 6 weeks and suddenly you’ll discover one day that you’re a pro and giving advice to other new parents in your circle.
Also, don’t forget to feed yourself. Very important. (We know this is hard. Consider hiring a professional postpartum doula in Denver/Colorado Springs area to support you as you navigate feeding and raising your baby 24/7!)