One of my most cherished memories is feeding my sons when they were babies. It was so special to me that I only recently parted with the glider rocker I sat in to nurse them. And my youngest is 12 years old! I remember the cozy closeness of holding my babies in my arms, gazing down at their sweet faces and feeling so proud and accomplished to be caring for them in the most intimate way — by feeding them.
New parents have many choices when it comes to feeding their babies, including breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and combo-feeding. Here are some feeding tips that mommy M.D.s — doctors who are also mothers — use themselves:
"When my kids were babies, I kept this top of mind: Fed babies are best!" says Michelle Davis-Dash, M.D., a mom of two and a board-certified pediatrician in Baltimore. "Whatever method gets your baby satisfied and fed is the best. If you're breastfeeding, it's OK to pump and store the milk for later days, and it's OK to be tired. As a new mom, taking life one day at a time is all you can do. Love your baby and reach out for help if you need it!"
"Breastfeeding is best, but it was challenging for me," says Jennifer Hanes, D.O., a mom of two and a wellness physician in Houston. "I wasn't producing enough milk for my baby to gain weight, despite getting support from a lactation consultant. It was really sad for me, and I felt like a failure. I ended up using formula. I pumped as much as I could to supplement with breastmilk because it helps support the baby's developing immune system, but the majority of my babies' intake was from formula."
"Breastfeeding is best, but mothers put a lot of pressure on themselves to breastfeed," says Sonal R. Patel, M.D., a mom of twin daughters, a pediatric allergist in Pasadena, California, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More." "I assumed breastfeeding would come naturally, but one of my girls had colic and slow weight gain. I was in such a stressed-out, sleep-deprived fog that I didn't even think about seeing a lactation specialist, but I wish I had. I tried natural supplements, but I still was unable to produce a lot of milk. I came to realize that I was going to have to supplement with formula. I felt guilty, and in hindsight, I wish I had cut myself some slack."
Dr. Rallie's Tips
People often ask me if I breastfed or bottle-fed my sons. Moms feel tremendous pressure to choose between breastfeeding and formula-feeding. My experience is a great example of how this doesn't have to be a one-or-the-other decision. It's perfectly fine — better even — to choose both.
I got the best of both worlds by breastfeeding and formula-feeding with all three of my sons, and I would not change that experience for the world! For all three of my kids, I started with nursing. But early on, I supplemented with formula.
I found this beneficial for many reasons. One, my husband could also feed our babies, which was a positive experience for him and our sons. Two, adding formula helped me to transition back to work. Supplementing with formula meant I no longer had to pump at work. I nursed my sons at home before and after work, and they drank formula during the day.
This flexibility helped me, and it also helped my babies. My sons thrived on the seamless combo of breastfeeding and formula-feeding.
— Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky
Mommy M.D. Guides Recommended Product: Store-Brand Infant Formula
If you choose to not breastfeed or are unable to, infant formula is the only safe alternative to breast milk, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
There are many brands and types of formulas. Brand-name formulas are expensive. You'll likely wonder: Are name brands more expensive because they contain better ingredients? Is the extra cost worth it?
The answer is no. Ounce for ounce, store-brand formulas contain the same nutrients as name brands. Store-brand formulas meet the same rigorous FDA standards as name brands, but store-brand formulas cost much less. Learn more at www.storebrandformula.com.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four, co-founder and CEO of Momosa Publishing and co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides. She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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