A mother is the one who nurtures the child for nine months even before the child is born. Once the child is delivered, it still connects with the mother on a physical level by the process of lactation, wherein the milk that is produced by the mother's body serves as a source of nutrition to the baby for six or more months. However, there may be certain reasons due to which the mother is unable to breastfeed her little one. In such cases, formula feeding becomes the child's sole source of nutrition for those initial few months.
Now, in the Indian society there is a certain amount of taboo that is associated with formula feeding an infant. People feel that doing something like that makes one less motherly.
That is probably why there is not much literature available about the same and people do not openly speak about it. This article aims to shatter all those barriers by talking to you about all that you need to know about formula feeding your little one.
- Components Of Baby Formula
- Conditions Under Which You Can Start Baby Formula
- Preterm baby
- When the mother has HIV infection or other severe illness
- Infants at a risk of hypoglycaemia
- Maternal medication
- How Much Formula Does A Baby Need And How Often To Feed?
Components Of Baby Formula
Baby formula is chemically designed in such a way that it meets all the dietary requirements of an infant and substitutes for the natural human breast milk. While there are a host of baby formulas available in the market (under different brand names), the primary constituent of all of them remains the same.
Whey and casein are the protein sources in them with purified cow's milk forming the base for the same. In addition to that, the fat requirements of the baby are met by a blend of vegetable oils that are present in the formula.
Lactose is the carbohydrate source in almost all the different baby formulas. Other than that, the secondary components may include some vitamin and mineral mix or fruit flavouring depending on the manufacturer.
However, it is safe to assume that most of these are nutritionally capable of replacing the human breast milk and if you are feeding this to your newborn infant he can well grow up to be a healthy adult.
Conditions Under Which You Can Start Baby Formula
The process of breastfeeding involves two individuals: the mother and the child. Thus, breastfeeding may not be possible if there are medical conditions associated with either of them.
Infants who are delivered at less than 32 weeks of gestation are defined as preterm babies. Such babies are not in a position to start lactation straight away. They are also seen to have a very low birth weight of less than 1.5 kg. In such cases, you will have to start off with formula milk and later graduate to lactation when your baby is finally ready for the same.
When the mother has HIV infection or other severe illness
HIV virus is often transmitted from a mother to her newborn child during lactation. In such cases, it is advisable that the mother does not opt for feeding the child herself. Also, if the mother is suffering from some severe illness (like that of sepsis or herpes) it is recommended that the child is given formula milk. In case the mother is under cytotoxic chemotherapy, breastfeeding must not be initiated at all costs.
Infants at a risk of hypoglycaemia
There may be a wide array of reasons due to which your child may have impaired metabolic adaptation. This may cause an increased glucose demand in his or her body. In such a situation what happens is that the baby's blood sugar fails to respond to the optimal levels of breastfeeding which puts him or her at an increased risk of hypoglycaemia. If your child is at a risk of this condition, your doctor may recommend you to opt for formula milk instead of breastfeeding.
There are certain medications that make the breast milk toxic. This would include anti-epileptic drugs, sedating psychotherapeutic drugs, respiratory drugs and a host of other medications. In such cases, the child needs to be formula fed. Drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis if consumed by the mother have harmful consequences on the infant.
Thus, it is advised that if you are under any sort of medication, you should go ahead and notify your paediatrician about the same. That way, he or she will be able to tell you if there is any cause of concern in you starting the process of lactation.
How Much Formula Does A Baby Need And How Often To Feed?
Ideally, in the first six months of a child's life she or he must be only breastfed. If you are switching to formula milk, there is no cause of concern there. However, you must make sure that your baby is not fed any form of solid food during this period. There is a simple process to find out how much of formula milk your little one needs.
Take his or her body weight (in pounds) and multiply the same by 2.5. The value that you get will be the weight in ounces of formula that your baby should ideally consume in the course of a day. How you distribute that quantity over the course of 24 hours is for you to decide.
Now that you realize that formula feeding is not as bad as you thought it to be, it is time that you shed the guilt associated with it. We understand that you would want only the very best for your baby and it is time that you realize that if you do have to formula feed your little one for some reason, it does not make you any less of a mother.
There is more to motherhood than mere lactation. The earlier you realize this, the sooner will you be able to come out of your guilt trip and focus your energy on building a lifetime relationship of love and trust with your baby.