These days there isn't much on my mind that doesn't involve babies. So I'll be doing a series for new and expectant moms, talking about those things that new moms think about.
Option One - The Breast
Luckily, most moms have the food bit covered thanks to our natural anatomy. Breastfeeding is the choice closest to nature and the one with the most benefits for both mom and baby. Breastfed babies are healthier overall, receiving valuable antibodies from mom from day one. Breastfeeding moms regain their pre-baby figure quicker, have a lower lifetime risk of breast cancer and they tend to be more conscious of food and lifestyle choices knowing that they have a direct impact on their child's nutrition.
On a spiritual level, breastfeeding mothers enjoy a kinship and closeness to the Mother Goddess and all the Mothers of nature that can't be matched. As our Mother provides for us of Her body, so we provide for our own beloved children of our own bodies.
If you choose to breastfeed, you can save up to $2000 on baby formula, not to mention saving on the waste from the containers the formula comes home in. Assuming someone other than yourself will occasionally be caring for your baby, you'll need a breast pump and a handful of bottles as well. Manual pumps are less expensive, but electric pumps are quicker and easier to use, which means you're more likely to use it rather than give up and go the formula route. I also recommend you invest in a hands-free pumping bustier so you can pump and multitask. I've even used it while driving (I put it on and set it all up before starting the car. It was an emergency.) I find it easiest to pump one side while the baby nurses the other side, because baby nursing stimulates the let down in both breasts, and the one not getting attention tends to leak anyway.
If you're nursing, the bottle should be introduced when your baby is 4 to 6 weeks old. This gives her a chance to become a proficient nurser before the bottle comes into play, but doesn't give her time to develop nipple prejudice. I prefer glass to plastic as there are no worries with glass about harmful chemicals such as BPA. I also feel glass cleans up better and lasts longer so you can use them again for the next baby or a cousin. I am personally a fan of the Born Free bottles.
There are some inconveniences associated with glass. They can break if dropped (or thrown) and sometimes break while being sterilized or when frozen. Most often it's when they are moved too quickly from one temperature extreme to another. (plastic bottles can also break, and I've seen them melt too!). Glass bottles are also a little heavier than plastic so baby might have a hard time holding the bottle on her own. These issues don't bother me much because I don't encourage my babies to hold bottles on their own and I don't prop the bottle. As soon as baby starts solid food (5-6 months) she should be introduced to the cup and as soon as she becomes solidly proficient with the cup, the bottle should disappear.
Unfortunately, most breastfeeding supplies are not something you necessarily want to get as a hand-me-down, so you'll probably want to buy all this new. You're looking at about a $400 investment here, but it's still a $1600 savings over formula.
Option Two - Formula
If you must work long hours outside the home and put your child in daycare and you do not have a convenient place to pump at work OR if you or your baby have a medical condition that makes breastfeeding inadvisable, your baby can grow up just fine and healthy drinking formula. I prefer powdered formula to the pre-mixed kind for several reasons.
The baby I care for three days a week is formula fed and I must say that powdered formula is a super convenience. I can take her to the park, out shopping, anywhere and mix fresh formula when she needs it and as much as she will drink. No need to pack a cooler and no waste. Speaking of waste, one canister of powdered formula makes dozens of bottles so you end up with less landfill waste than you do with premixed formula.
My bottle recommendations with formula are the same as with breastfeeding, but you'll need a few more bottles if you formula feed. Give them a good scrubbing with a bottle brush after every use then run them through the dishwasher. You do not need a bottle warmer, by the way. Most babies enjoy room temperature bottles and a chilled bottle on a hot day can be refreshing. If you do warm up your baby's formula, you should warm it up first and then put it in the bottle. Plastic bottles leech chemicals and can melt and glass bottles can crack when they are being warmed. Also, you don't want the bottle hot, you want the stuff inside it warm.
The type of formula you choose will likely be decided between you and your baby's pediatrician. There are several organic options you should ask about. As I've never used them, I can't comment on this too much. Unfortunately, programs like WIC are very specific about the types of formula you can get so you might not have much of a choice.
Option Three - Mix It Up
When I had my second child I was working nights and my husband was working days so my son was breastfed all day and formula fed all night. It probably wouldn't have been as easy the other way around, since he spent most of the night sleeping and didn't eat as much. This can work out for some folks and can be a happy medium for a working mom, but it does have some problems associated with it.
Before you choose this option you need to know that you will need to pump. Otherwise, you will find yourself engorged and leaking in the early days and as time progresses your milk production will go down. Also, if you work in a place that has the occasional infant visitor, as I did, you will find that every time you hear a baby cry, you will start to leak. Make sure you invest in some nursing pads!
Some moms are told they simply aren't producing enough milk for baby. If this is the case than supplementing with formula may be a necessity. Don't let it get you down. Nurse when you can, formula feed when you can't.
Also, if you've got a little one on the way and haven't picked a name yet, be sure to check out the Pagan Name Database for some great and meaningful options.
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