Babies are the cutest things on earth, bar none. When you become a parent there's so much to learn and everyone around seems to have an opinion, especially when it comes to feeding time.
So we want to find out what is best for baby breastfeeding or bottle-feeding?
Danella Perrins is a second-time mum. She's breastfed both her kids and reckons it's the only way to go.
"I think the biggest benefit of breastfeeding is to the baby itself. For the first six months, a mother's breast milk is the most important food source a baby can have if you're able to breastfeed," she says.
But some babies just won't take to the breast. Shae Rigney's little boy screamed every time she tried to feed him. That's when she switched to the bottle.
"So we kept him on the formula, but also tried to reintroduce the breast as well. But he just wouldn't take it at all," she says.
So what do the experts say about bottle versus breast? Time for a bit of research and who better to ask than paediatrician Patricia McVeagh?
When it comes to a newborn, what's the recommended feeding?
"There's only one answer to that and that's breastfeeding. There's very few women that can't breastfeed, and in terms of the child's ongoing health, that's the best choice," says Dr McVeagh.
And Patricia has a whole stack of reasons why. Breastfed babies have greater immunity to disease, which means less chance of infection. Other reasons include fewer tummy troubles and later on, less chance of asthma, eczema and obesity. Breastfed babies might even have higher IQs.
It's a tough list to argue with!
Funny thing is though, while nine out of 10 women start off breastfeeding their baby, only a third continue until the six-month mark. Dr McVeagh believes it's partly because mums misread the signals their breasts are giving them: "When a baby's first born, the mother will feel full when she starts her feed and she'll feel soft after the feed and sometimes people forget to say that won't keep happening, because as the mother and baby get in tune, the mother makes exactly the amount of milk that the baby requires and so she won't get that very full feeling and that very soft feeling."
The other thing that puts mums off breastfeeding is going back to work. The smart thing companies could do is make it easier for breastfeeding mums. Which is exactly what AGL is doing with their "baby rooms".
Here, valuable workers like Allison Thomas can not only feed baby, she can also express and store breast milk for those little emergencies.
"It means that I can keep breastfeeding my children for a longer period than I otherwise would have been able to. Also, I can come back into the workforce a bit sooner and have a more flexible arrangement with my children as well," says Allison.
So if the room wasn't here what would it mean?
"It would mean that I probably wouldn't be able to come back to work so soon or possibly not be able to come back to work at all."
The reality is a lot of employers don't offer the support that AGL does.
But at Perth's King Edward Memorial Hospital they've come up with a possible solution Australia's first human milk bank. They collect breast milk from carefully screened donors. Then it's pasteurised to ensure that no infection is passed onto a baby. For now, the milk's used for premature babies in the hospital.
"What we're hoping to do is, as we increase our production and obviously our supply of milk, we might be able to make the milk available to the wider community if the need arises," says Dr Ben Hartman, milk bank manager.
That's good news for new mums who can't get the breastfeeding happening, because it does seem that breast milk is the way to go. In fact, the Australian Breastfeeding Association thinks it's ideal if mum can exclusively breastfeed her baby for six months. Then, as solids are introduced, continue up to age one or longer, if possible.
But hey, nobody's the perfect parent. So let's support all those mums, no matter how long they've been able to keep breastfeeding their babies.
"For however long they tried, for however much they gave their baby of their milk, the baby will be advantaged by that," says Dr McVeagh.
So there it is … the advice we've been given suggests that breast really is best unless of course a medical condition rules it out.
- We hear a lot about a painful breastfeeding condition called mastitis. It happens when milk clogs the breast ducts, causing inflammation and infection. What's the best way to treat it? Experts say the solution is to keep breastfeeding and express as much milk as possible. Keeping the milk flowing will unblock the ducts and clear up the condition.