Feeding your baby is an intimate activity that not only provides nutrition, but also helps form the emotional bonds between a mother and child that last a lifetime. However, a child born with a congenital heart defect and undergoing heart disease treatment may not gain weight as rapidly as other infants.
Though babies with congenital heart defects may have a slower rate of growth or require extra feeding than babies without a heart condition, there are steps you can take to ensure they receive all the nutrition their growing body needs.
What to Expect
Infants and children with a heart defect tend to gain weight more slowly than healthy babies. Both breastfeeding and bottle feeding works well for babies with heart problems.
Babies born with heart disease typically do best when they’re fed more often and according to their hunger rather than a set schedule. Because they often tire quickly during feeding, they may fall into a pattern of needing shorter but more frequent feedings.
Breastfeeding Your Baby
If your baby is diagnosed with a congenital heart disease either before or immediately after birth, you may not get a chance to nurse right away.
In these cases, pumping your breasts is an important step to maintain your supply of milk. While this milk can be stored and later bottle fed to your baby during child heart disease treatment, breastfeeding is generally easier and healthier for infants than bottle feeding.
Bottle Feeding Your Baby
Bottle feeding often provides more flexibility than breast feeding, especially if your child received heart disease treatment after birth. It also allows the baby’s father and other family members to feed and enjoy the same feelings of attachment that mom does.