Thursday, 26 July 2012

Is Breast Really Best?

I offered to write an article about Formula feeding for 'Essex Mums' website which hasn't yet been published but I wanted to share it with you here and add my own personal thoughts. I am not claiming to be an expert on the subject but I did find a lot of interesting scientific information on my search about Formula feeding which I'll spare you!!!

When I was expecting R, I knew nothing about about any type of feeding. All I did know was what society showed me; Babies fed from bottles in public places, I very seldom came across a breastfeeding mum. 
I was NEVER given any information on breastfeeding, I only ever had a very old school midwife bark to me the dreaded words which probably made me dig my heels in and make up my mind ' Breast Is Best'. Mr L and I did our reasearch and decided we would formula feed both children but I'm sure that if I had I known my pro-breastfeeding friends when I was expecting R, I probably would have given breastfeeding a go. However, I saw the idea of family & friends feeding and bonding with my baby and the hope of a little extra sleep more beneficial to me at the time. Selfish I know, but I didn't know any different!

The whole idea that Supermarkets would not be allowed to sell formula (or Manufacturers allowed to produce it) IF it were dangerous to babies still confuses me. Government advises that you should exclusivley breast feed your baby for the 1st 6 months. However, they allow supermarkets to let you pick formula off the shelves and put it in your baskets without question. If  (dare I say it) Breast Really Is Best, this should not be allowed and formula only sold to those unable to breastfeed.

All I know is despite the controversy surrounding it, both of my children were exclusivley formula fed and apart from the odd infection here and there, like all kids, they are prefectly healthy AND that some of my friends children that were exclusivley breastfed for the first 6 months have some major health issues mine dont have!!

Here's my article -

'There’s no denying ‘Breast is Best’ and the government currently advises that you should exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months. However, if you cannot breastfeed or choose not to, there are many different brands of formula on the supermarket shelves nowadays packed with all the nutrients your baby needs from birth.

The Pro’s of Formula Feeding are that anyone can feed the baby so you can get a break and you know exactly how much they are getting. The Con’s are that it can cause Constipation, Colic and potentially some long term digestive problems.

One bottle can take up to 30 to 40 minutes if made fresh every time so if you give your baby six bottles a day, you could spend up to four hours a day preparing your baby’s feeds. There are some cheaters ways of making up bottles in advance but they are not recommended by Health Professionals nowadays because of the risk of contamination from unsterile environments. However, it does save time and as long as the formula isn’t added to the water until the last minute, it’s accepted if you have multiple babies to feed at once.

Prices vary by brand, type, and retailer, but it costs around £8 for a 900g tin of powdered cow's milk-based formula milk. Ready-made is available in cartons for convenience mainly if you’re going out for the day. You generally pay about the same for soya-based and lactose-free formulas. Hydrolysed-protein formula costs more, although it’s usually only available on prescription from your doctor.

Shop bought formula is based on cow's milk which is modified to resemble breast milk as closely as possible. First-stage formula which is suitable from birth up 1 year and Second-stage formula is designed to take longer to digest and is often promoted as ‘Hungry baby’ milk. Nutritionally, your baby will only need first-stage formula although if you feel you have a ‘Hungry baby’, change with caution as switching too early can give your baby constipation and although many milk manufacturers market their second-stage milk as suitable from birth, it’s best to wait until your baby is at least four weeks old.

The different types of formula are as follows -
  • Hydrolysed-Protein formula is specially designed for babies with an allergy or intolerance to the protein in cow's milk whereby they will have difficulty digesting the lactose or sugar in the milk. These are based on cow's milk and have the same nutritional value as standard formula milk but the protein in the milk is ‘Hydrolysed’, which means it is broken down so your baby is less likely to react to it. These milks are also generally lactose-free, so babies with intolerance to cow’s milk can digest them easier. Lactose-free formulas from are available also for babies with a Lactose intolerance.
  • Soya-based formula it is made from Soya Beans and modified with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to make it suitable for formula milk. You should only give your baby Soya-based formula on the advice of your doctor, health visitor or pediatrician as babies who are allergic to cow's milk are often allergic to soya, too. There is no evidence that changing to a soya-based formula can help to soothe your baby if they are suffering with colic. Soya formula may actually damage your baby’s teeth over time because it contain glucose syrup.
  • Follow On Milk is suitable for babies from 6 months. It is higher in protein, iron, vitamins and minerals to help your baby’s brain development. However, if your baby is happy with the current formula you do not need to change as they will get all these essential nutrients from the solid food you are introducing.
  • Goodnight formulas which are follow-on milks with added cereal. These are marketed at parents as helping babies to sleep better at night. However, there’s no evidence that they help babies to settle easier or that they take longer to digest. It’s not recommended to give goodnight milk to babies who are considered overweight or if they are less than six months old because cereal isn’t suitable for younger babies.
Growing-up milk is suitable for children aged 1 an above are marketed at parents as being better than cow's milk because they contain added iron and other vitamins and minerals. However, it’s not essential as once your baby is a year old they can have full-fat cow's milk as their main drink. They’ll also be eating a varied and balanced diet, which should provide them with all the essential vitamins and minerals, without the need for growing-up milk.'

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