These days, amongst mothers there are always comparisons between our children for some odd reason; who’s child crawled earlier than the other, who’s child has a stronger neck control at two months, oh and a new one, do breast-fed babies develop faster or “better”( for lack of a better word) than formula fed babies. As much as I think it’s very wrong to even compare in the first place, let alone compare the development of our kids as every child moves at his/her own pace, I find it important to address this so hopefully we’re informed enough and it stops.
I’m a new mum to an absolutely gorgeous baby girl named Ariel who’s just a little over two months old. My pregnancy with her was the most beautiful and mostly easiest experience ever and giving birth to her was even more amazing believe me. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I started to do tons of research on pregnancy and motherhood to prepare myself for what was coming ahead and one thing I focused on was breastfeeding! I was so determined to give her Breastmilk because my two older sisters hadn’t breastfed for one reason or the other and I truly wanted my case to be different in that aspect. It was from my research I found out that breastfeeding wasn’t necessarily an easy process, for most mothers, it was excruciatingly painful, for others it drained them emotionally especially when they couldn’t get it right. Knowing how tough it could be to breastfeed, I decided to equally pray about it, that’s just me, I’d rather God take care of every aspect of this journey for me, little or big. So I went shopping to prepare myself, got almost every Lansinoh product there was for breastfeeding, got my Brestfriend pillow, Lactation Tea, even researched lactation cookies, you know just in case things didn’t work as planned with my milk flow. I was prepared and I was definitely giving my precious one that Liquid Gold….. Or so I thought! The moment I pushed my baby girl out and my midwives did the needful, they brought her to me to breastfeed, I was nervous but ready. I carried my fragile baby girl and placed her the way my midwife taught me and she latched on immediately, then she started to suckle. That was were my issues started, it was the most painful thing I had ever experienced, by the time I took her off, my nipples were bleeding and peeling at the same time, I couldn’t believe it. Everyone including my mum kept telling me, “oh put her this way”, and “let her suck for 15 minutes on each side”, all that kept ringing in my head was, can’t these people see I’m literally distressed and upset from this? Well as a mother, you sacrifice and persevere, that’s what’s expected of you so I kept going at the hospital. However, one weird thing I realized in between all these was that my daughter was eating way more often than every 2-3 hours, so this meant my milk supply was very low and she wasn’t getting enough food. So what I did was ask the nurses at the hospital for formula to supplement so I could have some time to pump also to maybe increase my milk flow. Two days after being at the hospital we got discharged, my supply didn’t seem to increase and Ariel would get frustrated every time I’d breastfeed her and she wasn’t getting enough so that got me even more distressed. So I brought out her Dr Brown’s bottles I had bought her, the warmer and ready made Similac formula samples that had been sent to me during my pregnancy, we supplemented with formula and she latched on too, then I noticed every time I got her to latch on, she didn’t seem satisfied afterwards so I’d have to give her formula almost immediately after. I then decided to go the typical Nigerian way by drinking very watery hot ‘Ogi’ and also pepper soup(apparently it was specially mixed to increase breast milk), I drank my lactation tea on top of all that as well. My milk supply increased to me being able to pump one ounce every 2 hours, it had to be the most frustrating thing especially because it’s something I really wanted to do. On the morning of my daughter’s and I three day visit by my midwife, I woke up crying because my breasts were engorged and it gave me horrible chest pains too, I could barely put my daughter on my chest when I carried her or even get her to latch on so my midwife adviced I use cold cabbage leaves to relieve myself and most importantly, get my baby to latch on, those were the best ways to get things back to normal. My midwife, Carron quickly noticed I had inverted nipples, so as much as my daughter latched on alright, she wasn’t staying on which made it harder for her as well. After she left, I went into my room and balled like a baby, I felt like everything was just going south with this breastfeeding process. I felt annoyed that no one warned me of the magnitude, I mean I had read it could be challenging but not this bad, so what I did from that moment was make a hard but necessary decision to exclusively formula feed my baby. I thought about my emotional and mental state, I felt as much as I wanted to give my daughter the best of everything, I equally had to think about myself too because if I’m not fit in one way or the other, I wouldn’t be able to give my best shot at this motherhood thing. Again, I did my research but this time on formula fed babies versus breastfed babies, what their differences were, the pros and the cons.
My daughter started with Similac from the hospital and since they were generous enough to send me two packages of sample size Similac Advanced, I decided to continue on with that. Breast milk is always best and highly recommended by every Paediatric Board across the world, there are many formula brands who go the extra length to make baby foods with as much components that Breastmilk contains. According to what I was able to gather from my research about Similac Advance, it was the brand’s closest formula to breast milk as it contained Omega-3 and 6, it equally contained Galactooligosaccharides and Lutein, and then DHA, nutrients babies can only get from Breastmilk. I’ll go into more detail for better understanding; Your baby’s gut relies on millions of good bacteria to support digestive health, so Galactooligosaccharides act like food for the beneficial bacteria in your baby’s intestinal tract and may help them grow and thrive. Also, this super component helps promote softer stools which breastfed babies usually enjoy. Now Lutein, the other power component is an antioxidant which is naturally found in breast milk and concentrated in the baby’s eyes and brain, it’s very important as it absorbs potentially damaging light and may protect against oxidative damage in the eye. So in simpler terms, until your baby starts on solid foods such as leafy greens, corn, eggs, etc, she can only get Lutein from Breastmilk and well Similac Advance. In addition, Docosahexaenoic acid(DHA) is an essential fatty acid, thought to be important to the development of infants, particularly as regards their eyes and brain. DHA is present in breast milk and has been added to most infant formulas. Postnatal DHA may improve vision and some cognitive functions in infants and toddlers. DHA is an omega-3, polyunsaturated, 22-carbon fatty acid. It is present in abundance in certain fish (such as tuna and bluefish) and marine animal oils. Amazing to know these information right and best of all know there are other options out there to feed your baby and know she will be perfectly fine. So here are the pros of formula feeding I have experienced so far;
1. Your baby gets a very good amount of some very important nutrient breast milk ordinarily contains which is fantastic.
2. The freedom of using a bottle at anywhere, any place, any time.
3. You know exactly how much food your baby is consuming as per bottle measurements in millimetres and ounces.
4. Formula fed babies are full after a certain amount of ounces, so they’re able to start sleeping for longer periods at night quite early on (my daughter started sleeping for 4 hours straight at 6 weeks old. 4. You get to figure out early on if your child is lactose intolerant and great thing is these companies make Soy formula, Lactose free and Organic Formulas so you have a wide range and options.
1. You will wash bottles and that’s no fun at all especially Dr Brown’s and its many parts to prevent babies from being colic (Ariel hasn’t ever been Colicky so I guess it’s serving its purpose).
2. Formula is EXPENSIVE, yes! You’re spending between $25-$35 every few days on a container of formula, if you’re giving her anything, give her the best there is.
3. Also, your baby stands the chance of being constipated if you change formulas for instance or you mix it wrongly (measure incorrectly; more formula than water).
In regards to the developmental process of breastfed babies and formula fed babies, there’s none! Babies develop at different paces regardless of how/what they were fed. No! Breastfed babies aren’t more intelligent and the other way round. Now at two months plus, I have changed my daughter’s formula to Enfamil. This is because she had RSV last week and was admitted to the hospital for two days, they had only Enfamil at that hospital so when we got back home, I gave her Similac but she puked immediately after, so we just decided to give her Enfamil as her stomach already got used to it.