Breastfeeding is more than just offering food to a baby. Those mothers who want to breastfeed but for whatever reason cannot do so often don’t realise that in abandoning the breast they need not abandon all.
Breast versus bottle: intuitive feeding versus functional? Not nesscesarily. What if bottlefeeding mothers and babies allow themselfs the same strategies to enjoy a meal together?Feeding on demand implies looking at the baby for cues. And adapting the amount of food to what he or she needs at that moment. Even if it varies.
So instead of an x number of feeds of y mls use this formula: 150 mls x weight in kilo’s / nr of feeds per day. And then look at your baby. Who is it: big eater big & sleeper or a light sleeper who is too alert for long naps and so may want to feed more frequently?
Demand feeding also means that baby decides how much to drink. Just as we like to alternate big meals and lighter meals, so can babies. Don’t push your baby to finish the bottle because he can, or because she should. Look at bodylanguage to see when it may have been enough:
- hands pushing the bottle away
- milk pooling in the corners of the mouth
And offer a break in between: when the first hunger is satisfied change a diaper, have a cuddle, switch arms. Offer different positions: alternate the arm on which your baby rests. That way food becomes a meal.
These are the simple things. A step further is the mothers exclusiveness. Anyone can bottlefeed your baby. Ask yourself if that is what you want. Is it what your baby wants? Or does it feel nicer to ‘claim’ your baby for feedings. This may be especially relevant if you as a mother are ill or unable to fully care for your baby. Feeding can be your privilege. Or only share with your partner: only both of you can feed may be a good householdrule for the first period (6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months? you decide).
And offer skincontact. As much and as often as you can and want. As simple as baring your upper chest to cuddle cheek to chest after a feed. To as elaborate as undressing your baby and feeding huddled in bed skin to skin. Take a shower or bath together. Undress after feeding and touch. Take a course in babymassage.
And last but not least: focus. Multitasking is overrated. Especially when you have a baby. Your child wants you. Nothing more. All you need to do is be there with attention and patience. Not the easiest task for us modern people. But a rewarding moment your baby will be enjoying.
So enjoy feeding. Whichever way.