There was a post on The New Age Parents‘ facebook page yesterday featuring a question from a mum on whether she should partially breastfeed her baby because her confinement nanny told her that formula at night helps the baby sleep through the night. I was about to comment but the reply got too long. And it seemed to me that I was the minority and I was afraid of getting rotten eggs thrown on me. So I retreated to my personal sanctuary that if my own blog on which I can say whatever I want without fear or favour.
I don’t think making babies sleep through is a good reason for partial breastfeeding. I have been exclusively breastfeeding for the past 11 months, with solids from 6 months, of course, and my baby slept through the night from 6 weeks onwards. Its not true that formula is more filling. It is more difficult to digest and hence stay in the stomach longer, that is true but volume for volume babies actually need less breastmilk for their energy needs. This must mean that breastmilk is more “filling” in that more nutrients and calories actually absorbed. My experience is that letting baby sleep through the night is a poor reason for not exclusively breastfeeding. It may not help but yet baby is deprived of exclusively breastfeeding benefits.
There are also a lot of benefits of exclusively breastfeeding that is lost once any other food, even formula, is given. The most common benefit of exclusively breastfeeding is a heathier “flora” in the intestinal tract but there are also lesser known ones for example iron in breastmilk is absorbed much better than other forms of iron but this benefit is lost once other forms of iron is introduced to compete with the iron in breastmilk. I don’t explain it wekk as I’ve digested all these informatino and retained only the conclusion I drew but see for example the following article: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/virgin-gut.html. Kellymom’s Why Delay Solids also has a lot of information that I drew analogies on . In a sense formula and solids are similar – both are not nature’s intended food for very young babies – even though formula is closer.
That said, genuinely not having enough milk after an earnest effort, or an ill mother or medically unwell baby or just being unable to cope with the hassle of breastfeeding due to say lack of help with babies are all valid reasons for not being able to exclusively breastfeed and formula is close enough to breastmilk for mothers to really not have to bash themselves up for not exclusively breastfeeding. All I’m saying here is make an informed choice, not a choice based on with frivolous words of a well meaning confinement who probably doesn’t have evidence backing her speech.