3 Ways to Feed a Newborn Baby

This post is about feeding a newborn baby, in a way that works for your family.

Breast or bottle?  It doesn't need to be either/or.  (But it can be). 

What matters is this:

1)  Is your baby getting the nourishment he/she needs to grow and thrive?

2)  Are the parents feeding the baby in such a way that physically, emotionally and financially works for them?

That's it.

There is SO much pressure for new parents (and especially moms!) surrounding feeding.  Like many things that parents do, this is a hot-button topic that will draw ire and judgement from all around you - friends, family, social media. 

As a postpartum doula that has worked with many families, here are the 3 basic ways to feed a newborn:

1)  Breastfeeding from the breast

It's wonderful, natural, and specially formulated for your baby.  Breastmilk is amazing, free, and has so many benefits.  I don't need to get into them here because if you've done your research you probably know all about it.  What some people don't tell you is that it is very difficult for some moms.  Even second or third-time moms who have breastfed before!  Every baby is different, and there is a learning curve.  Walking is natural too, but we had to learn how to do it.  Some babies figure it out immediately, and some don't.  It has nothing to do with how good of a mother you are.  But it can have to do with your body, your nipples, your birth experience, your baby, your milk supply, your exhaustion level, your diet, your stress level, etc. 

2)  Feeding baby expressed/pumped breast milk

Did I mention latching on to the breast can be really hard for some babies and moms?  There's a reason why products like Lasinoh cream and All Purpose Nipple Ointment exist.  For some moms, pumping or expressing breast milk and feeding it to baby either with a cup, syringe, tube, or bottle is the solution that works for them.  It allows moms the freedom to have someone else feed the baby, while still feeding baby breast milk.  It's also a good solution for women trying to increase their milk supply by pumping while letting their nipples heal.  

3)  Feeding formula

So many different formulas are on the market!  Pick one your health care provider recommends and you feel good about.  You can get powder and mix it with sterilized water, or use prepared formula all ready to go.  You can feed it to baby from a bottle, a cup, or a tube.  Anyone can use formula to feed your baby so it can give mom a break.  But remember to watch the time with any leftover formula that has been mixed but not finished...it's usually only good for an hour on the counter (always read the label and follow safe feeding guidelines!)

But wait, I've left something out.

There's a 4th way to feed a newborn.

Your way.

Many people combine these methods in a way that works for them.  For example:

  • Baby only gets breastmilk, but from a bottle, since mom is pumping
  • Baby gets a mix of expressed breastmilk and formula - tube feeding
  • Baby gets formula from a cup
  • Baby gets breastfed from the breast, but once a day someone else gives a bottle of formula
  • Baby is exclusively formula fed from a bottle.

Etc. 

There is no right answer.  The right answer for YOU is the one that answers my first two questions.

1)  Is your baby getting the nourishment he/she needs to grow and thrive? (for newborns, this means every 2-3 hours, by the way, no matter what method you use)

2)  Are the parents feeding the baby in such a way that physically, emotionally and financially works for them? (every method has its pros and cons, costs, and work involved).

If you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding because someone told you it was right, and it did not feel right to you, how can you fix that? 

How can you nourish your baby in a way that makes your family thrive too? 

Your answer will be as unique as your family.

Doula Care Journey fully supports breastfeeding moms, bottle feeding moms, and everything in between. 

I say, cheers to unique families and fed babies.