As if 40 weeks of pregnancy and chocolate-covered-strawberry cravings -- and enduring a labor -- weren't enough of a challenge, now comes the real test: raising that little baby. There's no shortage of early-on issues, especially for first-time parents. You've got concerns about what goes in one end, how often it comes out the other, when baby will finally sleep through the night, and why in the world you can't get that ESPN-watching lug to fold a bodysuit every once in a while.
While many of the issues below are complex enough to warrant deeper discussion, this serves as a quick and easy stress-busting guide.Really, how much better is breast milk?
You've heard it from docs, from nurses, from lactation consultants, from everyone: natural nectar rules. "Breast milk provides immunity that even the best formulas don't offer," says Ellen Rome, MD, pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. "Plus, it comes in handy-dandy carrying packages at just the right temperature." It has many other advantages: it's free, it helps Mom burn up to 500 extra calories a day, and studies show that breastfed babies may have higher IQs. But, Dr. Rome says, if you can't breastfeed or choose not to, leave the guilt at the door. After all, formula contains most of the same important nutrients as breast milk. "Breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone," Dr. Rome says. "And generations of us were raised perfectly fine after being bottlefed."