Should I Breastfeed or Bottle Feed My Baby with Down Syndrome?
You may be aware of the tremendous benefits that breastfeeding provides to newborns. Breast milk contains natural antibodies that fortify babies’ immune systems. This is especially important to infants with Down syndrome, who have higher rates of respiratory and other infections. Breast milk can also reduce bowel problems, which are more common in babies with Down syndrome. Breast milk also contains an ingredient known to promote brain growth and development.
In addition, the physical process of breastfeeding strengthens babies’ jaw and facial muscles, which helps lay a good foundation for speech and language development. It also provides skin-to-skin contact, a form of sensory stimulation that creates neural connections that can facilitate future learning.
There are many great reasons to breastfeed, but whether or not to do so is a personal choice.
Feeding is a Personal Choice
There are many great reasons to breastfeed, but whether or not to do so is a personal choice. Some mothers breastfeed exclusively while others bottle feed. Still others combine the two. There are many factors that play into this decision. This includes whether you feel your body is producing enough milk, your baby has health complications, and if you plan to return to work soon after delivery.
If you do plan to breastfeed, be aware of certain factors that might make it challenging. Babies with Down syndrome have low muscle tone. This may make it difficult for your baby to “latch” onto your breast at first. As these babies also tend to be sleepier than other infants, you will likely have to make an extra effort to raise your baby’s alertness and keep him or her awake throughout the entire feeding. Also, if your baby needs surgery, he or she may require a feeding tube for a short time.
When it comes to feeding, the important thing is to make the choice that is best for you.
Help is Available
There are many organizations and individuals that can help you get started and provide tips for overcoming these and any other challenges you may encounter. These same specialists can help you learn how to pump, store, and transport your breastmilk or how to select the right baby formula to meet your infant’s needs if you choose to bottle feed. When it comes to feeding, the important thing is to make the choice that is best for you. Feedings should provide quality time for a parent and child to bond, so they should always be as comfortable and stress-free as possible for both individuals. A meeting with your hospital’s lactation specialist is a great place to start learning about what feeding option may be right for you.
Do you need assistance with breastfeeding and lactation? We suggest the following specialist: