While we were in hospital post-birth, our newborn had jaundice and needed topping up with formula, but we had the midwives come and give us information to let us know what the best thing would be to do. I recommend doing that at your local childbirth centre of choice, but here are the highlights.
If for some reason breast alone isn't an option, (e.g. mother is needed elsewhere, mother feels uncomfortable feeding in public, milk's running slow, baby needs more than just breast can provide, tounge-tie, or any of the other billion justified reasons), Formula Is Perfectly Acceptable. Repeat a million times to drown out any fear:
"They have it in hospitals, so it must be safe"
However, if expressed breast milk is an option, it's healthier than any formula and can be frozen for up to six months. Now, here's the guidance we were given:
- More expensive is not better. There's a minimum standard high enough that for any approved milk, the differences are stylistic rather than nutritious. One midwife even suggested that certain cunning companies might use the same formula for their budget and premium brands, simply changing the packaging. Which would make sense, as providing less-safe milk to tiny babies would be monstrous. Manipulating upper-class parents is just redistribution of wealth.
- It's actually slightly preferable, if more expensive, to use ready-made formula, as it's guaranteed sterile on opening, whereas with powder you have to sterilize the water, and then the spoon, and the jug, and everything.
- The milk requirements change with development (roughly by age, but check with your baby's doctor each visit to make sure your baby's not running ahead/behind), so use different milk for newborns than later, etc.
Personally, we're topping up on SMA's jars of baby fluid, dispensed via cup, till her weight's up a bit (phototherapy dehydrates her, so her weight dropped a little more than preferred). It's so easy, you just hook it under her lip and she laps it up. And I can do it, which is the highlight of my day.