When you're pregnant and your due date is pending fast, you start thinking about the reality of being a mummy and the myriad of choices that lay ahead. One important decision to be made is how you are going to feed baby - will you breastfeed or formula feed? Breastfeeding baby is so incredibly beneficial to both mummy and baby and the milk itself, armed with antibodies and natural goodness, is one of the greatest things you can provide, but there is also something else.
This month, a very close friend of mine gave birth - she is such a positive and determined character and was intent on breastfeeding for the first 6 months. Unexpectedly, she had to have an emergency c-section and waited eagerly for days until her milk came in. When the milk came, it still wasn't enough to satisfy her little gem and she was forced to give formula milk as he was continuously hungry and couldn't settle. With all the determination in the world, a visit to a breastfeeding consultant and pediatrician plus herbal drops and natural tablets, the milk began to flow more and she's now feeding fine. Baby however still needs more milk, so my friend tops up a couple of times throughout the day.
What I learned from witnessing what my dear friend was experiencing, was that breastfeeding might be the most natural and preferable way to nourish your baby but it's certainly not the be all and end all. By giving formula or expressed milk, my friend's husband was able to feed and form a close bond with baby and she could still bottle feed and do skin-to-skin at the same time! It was something her pediatrician had suggested, which I thought was a wonderful idea. Why not bottle feed whilst having skin-to-skin moments and form a close bond with your baby, just as breastfeeding mothers do?
After doing some extensive research, I began to realise just how important the 'skin-to-skin' element of breastfeeding is and discovered this is something that can be performed by all mummies, regardless of whether they choose to breastfeed or not. There's really no need to miss out on this wonderful experience. According to studies, the amazing benefits of skin-to-skin in brief, are:
- It helps babies regulate their body temperatures and adapt to their new environment
- It dramatically increases newborn weight gain
- It boosts baby's mental development
- Stimulates milk production if breastfeeding
- It reduces baby's pain or stress
- It helps baby sleep
- It promotes bonding with daddy
- It promotes bonding with mummy
So if it happens that you are not able to breastfeed exclusively, or even at all, please don't feel like you've failed. You can still have precious skin-to-skin moments with your baby and have that closeness. If you're feeling a bit shy about doing this in public, using one of our MamaBibs may help. This was suggested to me by an industry colleague and I thought it was a fantastic idea and hadn't even thought about it when I first designed and produced the MamaBib. In the same way a breastfeeding mummy covers herself during feeds, so can a bottle feeding mummy during skin-to-skin. This provides absolute freedom, flexibility and discretion to ALL mummies.