Providing our Larken community with helpful resources for all stages of motherhood is a top priority and part of our ongoing commitment to you. This month we dig into the topic of feeding. We believe that fed is best no matter what and want to support all our Larken moms’ feeding journeys.

What Fed is Best Means, and the many ways we feed our babies

Fed is Best is a rally cry you may have heard among the parenting community with young babies who believe that a fed baby - no matter how you choose to feed them - is a healthy baby. Fed is Best was started by a group of healthcare professionals who were on a mission to reduce the number of hospitalizations among exclusively breastfed babies. Fed is Best is not to contradict Breast is Best, which means breastmilk is the best thing for your baby, but to relieve the pressure and stress for moms who are struggling to breastfeed or choose not to. According to the  Fed is Best website, the goal of the campaign is to: "provide safe, infant feeding education for breastfeeding, mixed-feeding, formula-feeding, pumped-milk-feeding, and tube-feeding mothers and families to prevent feeding complications to babies that have become too common from the pressure to exclusively breastfeed at all costs." 

As new moms or moms-to-be, we are bombarded with information and data on everything from what to put on a registry, which baby classes to take, a pediatrician to choose, what child-care will look like, diapers to use, and of course, how to feed your brand new bundle of joy—feeding at the breast, pumping breastmilk and using a bottle, formula feeding or some combination of all three. For some, the feeding method can be one of the hardest decisions to make. Additionally, circumstances (like a national formula shortage?!) may change your decision quite quickly—causing stress and anxiety on top of the other challenges of being a new mom!

Factors That Can Impact Your Feeding Decisions:

Health experts believe breastmilk is the best possible source of nutrition for infants. However, certain circumstances can make nursing impractical and even impossible. Pumped breastmilk or formula are great alternatives to nursing. And while you don‘t have to justify your decision to anyone, we wanted to provide you with just a few of the reasons why some moms choose alternative feeding methods:

  • Pain and Discomfort — It can be mentally and physically exhausting to put your body through discomfort caused by breastfeeding. The stress of putting your body through pain multiple times a day can be damaging to your postpartum mental health and physical well-being
  • Latching Issues—While you may have expectations that breastfeeding will be a smooth process, the reality is that it‘s a learning process for both mama and the baby, and could potentially come with unexpected challenges, like latching. This can be discouraging, frustrating and stressful, which can ultimately lead to a tanking milk supply and a negative mental state. 
  • Return To Work (or School)—Depending on your company‘s policies, your return to work can impact your ability to nurse. And while your company or school may provide areas to pump, you may prefer to choose formula feeding as regular pumping is not always feasible with your schedule.
  • Premature or Multiple babies—Circumstances may be out of your control initially, but you can work with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant to develop a feeding plan for the future.
  • Health Issues—Some health conditions can cause a low milk supply. Additionally, certain medications can have an impact on your baby. It is important that you also prioritize your own physical, mental and emotional health while taking care of your baby. 
  • Financial Considerations—While nursing may be the cheapest method, lactation specialists can be expensive if not covered by insurance or assistance programs. Pumping supplies (bottles, parts, etc) and the current  formula shortage can impact your decision as well.. 
  • Preference by baby—Some babies just flat out refuse the bottle. Period. 
  • Personal Reasons—Plainly said: you don‘t need to justify your reasons to anyone. Fed is best, no matter the method — and how you do so is up to you. 

While considering your personal circumstances, check out some of the benefits to nursing, bottle feeding or formula. 

Nursing/Feeding from the Chest

  • It’s free* —There’s no need for bottles, machines, replacements, etc. *Free can be a trigger here - it certainly is not free to feed new mamas healthy, nutritious foods, or to purchase all the things you may need to be comfortable to nurse, not to mention the value of your time spent nursing. 
  • Less stuff*— With less things, there’s less clutter, less to pack, less to buy, less to replace, and less to clean. *We don’t know about you but we do need our boppy, nipple creams, ice pads, etc., etc. to nurse. 
  • Nutrition—Breast milk nutrients naturally match your baby’s needs, so if your baby is sick, their saliva will cause your breastmilk to adjust and provide the necessary antibodies to respond to a specific virus or bacteria. 
  • Bonding time with your baby—Parents who exclusively breastfeed will spend a lot of time holding and feeding their baby. For one year alone, breastfeeding will take up about 1,860 hours of time. 
  • Milk regulation –When your baby is eating more, you produce more milk. And when the baby takes less, your body will produce less milk. Breastfeeding can help regulate your breastmilk supply, creating a schedule to match your baby’s needs.
  • No wait time –When your baby is hungry, their meal is always ready, meaning you don’t have to prepare a bottle and warm up your milk. 

Bottle Feeding Breast Milk/Pumping 

  • More flexibility—Exclusively pumping allows you to build your own schedule based on your availability.
  • Knowing the exact amount—Bottle feeding allows you to know exactly how much milk your baby is consuming, giving you a peace of mind as a new parent.
  • Less pain*—Pumping can offer a way to avoid breast discomfort due from a poor latch, biting, and other common issues. *For some people 
  • More help from others—Bottle feeding allows your partner (and others!) to connect with the baby, spending feeding times with them to give you a break—so you can have a little ”me-time“ or run some errands. 
  • Back-up milk—With pumping you can create extra food supply on those nights that you may want to have a glass of wine or or eat something that doesn’t agree with your baby’s stomach. 

Formula 

Many of the benefits of formula feeding overlap with benefits of bottle feeding breast milk, such as flexibility, knowledge of exact caloric intake, lack of discomfort, and bonding between baby and others. Additional benefits include:

  • Convenient—So much less stuff. Water, formula, bottle, GO!
  • Nutrients—It is typically fortified with both iron and vitamin D. Often, breastfed babies require additional supplements of each. 
  • Can be helpful with allergies—If your baby has allergies to dairy or soy and you are unable to avoid the allergens,  formula can help.
  • Potentially More Filling— Formula typically takes babies a little longer to digest than breastmilk. That may mean they'll feel fuller longer, and won't need to eat again as quickly. More time between feedings equals more rest for mom.

Studies by the CDC show that over 84% of babies born start out being breastfed. At 6 months, that number drops down to 58.3%, and by 1 year, that number comes significantly down to 35.3%. When factoring in exclusivity to breastfeeding the numbers are even lower: 46.9% at 3 months and 25.6% at 6 months. While the American Academy has recently updated its  recommendations for breastfeeding, there is clear research that each mother‘s baby feeding journey is deeply personal. But no matter what that journey looks like,  Larken is here to support every mom—from pregnancy to breastfeeding or pumping, we have what you need to make your journey as comfortable as possible for both you and your baby. 

Check out additional resources to help you on your journey to feeding your little one:

Office on Women‘s Health 

Fed Is Best Foundation

La Leche League

Exclusive Pumping

USDA


*As always, the information shared by these women or in any of the resources does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your own medical team to discuss your personal needs and the needs of your baby.