(BPT) - You've just gotten the news - you're going to be a parent! As you start researching what is to come, you realize there are countless choices to be made - including feeding decisions and a nutrition plan for your baby. As a registered dietitian, pediatric nutrition specialist, certified lactation counselor and Enfamil's Nutrition Expert, Alayne Gatto's passion is working with new mothers and fathers, and supporting them in the care of their infants. She offers the following tips for new parents:
You are entering a new chapter in your life. And throughout the prenatal journey, feeding choices are constant and vast, from choosing if you are providing breastmilk, infant formula or both, to reading about which specific nutrients are most important in your diet as a lactating mother or found in an infant formula. You also may feel a bit uncertain if you are making the right decisions because it is a time where you start to think about how the decisions you make may end up impacting this new baby that is about to enter your world. Just know that every baby is different and that your feeding plans may change once they are born.
For now, it may be best to start with asking yourself, 'What are my infant feeding goals?' Are they to:
- Exclusively breastfeed
- Breastfeed and supplement with formula until you establish a full breastmilk supply
- Provide a combination of feeding -
- on the breast and formula OR
- pumped breastmilk and formula
- Exclusively formula feed
And after establishing your goal, you need to think about the tools and resources needed to support your goal. Review the following checklist in your months leading up to baby's arrival:
- Ask about your lactation support.
- During your prenatal doctor visits, ask about lactation support available at their office, your birthing hospital or in the community.
- Find out which breast pump is covered by insurance.
- Breast pumps can be expensive. Call your insurance company to find out which breast pump will be covered, and how you should go about obtaining it.
- Discuss feeding times with your partner and/or support system.
- Discuss the feeding schedule that works for you, who will be feeding the baby during the day versus nighttime. Defining your schedule will help manage stress as roles are established.
And, if applicable:
- Find out about your maternity leave and pumping policies.
- Reach out to the human resources department to obtain specifics about your maternity leave and the policy regarding a break and private space for pumping breastmilk to make your return-to-work transition much more smooth.
- Research the right formula for you and your child.
- Choose which infant formula brand you can trust to provide clinically backed nutrition your baby needs.
- A reputable infant formula brand should list the ingredients and their amounts, as well as the science behind how their products support baby's development.
- Research feeding resources.
- If you are enrolled in your state WIC® (Women, Infant and Children's) program, ask what feeding support resources they have available to pregnant and postpartum women.
For those of you who made the informed decision to supplement your breastmilk with formula or use formula as the source of your baby's nutrition, it is important to look for nutrients such as Omega 3-DHA for brain and eye development and other nutrients found in breastmilk, like 2-FL Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs), and Prebiotics that support immune health when you are choosing your infant formula. These ingredients are also found in Enfamil's family of formulas, the #1 infant formula brand trusted by pediatricians (among those with a preference) and parents, with the global expert-recommended amount of brain-building Omega-3 DHA.
'And don't forget, we often try to plan ahead with great intentions, but even if things don't go as planned in your feeding journey, all that matters is that you're doing your best,' Gatto said. 'Hug them, kiss them and safely feed them - as this all shows your love to your new baby!'