Breastfeeding vs. Bottle feeding are words that can cause mommy wars to erupt. Camps on both sides often spit fire at one another. Deciding to how to feed your baby brings an onslaught of opinions and advice.
Instead of listening to advice from everyone, mothers need to listen to their heart and decide what is best for their baby. It is important to remember that fed is best. Your goal is to ensure your child is properly fed and growing. The mother’s body specifically creates breast milk for her child, but formula companies have come a long way over the years. They have done a great job ensuring children get all of the needed nutrients and vitamins if the mother opts not to breastfeed.
Reasons Why You Would Want to Breastfeed Your Baby
You might have heard horror stories about breastfeeding from friends. Their nipples cracked and bled. Their baby nursed for hours and hours. Exclusively breastfed poop can be scary; it also can get distance if you don’t have the diaper on in time! You may have to spend weeks fixing their latch.
These stories might be true, but there are some great reasons to breastfeed.
Breast Milk is More Nutritious
A mother’s body is designed to breastfeed. The milk naturally contains all of the nutrients, vitamins and enzymes your child needs to grow and develop into a healthy toddler and child.
Breast Milk Protects Your Baby
When you breastfeed your child, you pass your antibodies to them. It helps to develop their immune system. Breastfed babies have a lower rate of ear infections, stomach viruses, and respiratory illnesses.
The first milk your baby receives is called colostrum
It is a thick, yellowish milk that is crucial for your child to get. Colostrum has some of the most critical components like antibodies, leukocytes, fatty acids, three times the amount of protein, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K. It has more minerals than mature milk.
All of these components lead to a healthier baby. Antibodies help to protect your baby from germs. Vitamin K protects your child from bleeding. The increased levels of proteins stabilize and maintain their blood sugar. Leukocytes destroy bacteria and viruses that can harm your child.
Breast Milk Reduces SIDS
If there is one word that scares parents, it would be SIDS. Sudden infant death syndrome is petrifying. With no definite cause and no way to predict it, parents hold their breath after each nap and mornings when they wander in the nursery.
One of the most fantastic reasons to breastfeed your child is that it decreases SIDS. Yes, you read that correctly! The American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommends breastfeeding for, at least, the first six months of life. Their extensive studies prove that breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by 50 percent at all ages through infancy. It is one thing you CAN do to help stop SIDS from happening.
Breastfeeding Reduces Allergies and Asthma
Food allergies are way too common in our world today. They are hard to handle for parents and the child. The American Academy of Allery, Asthma and Immunology advocates for parents to breastfeed their child. Besides the obvious benefits, breast milk can help to reduce early eczema, wheezing, and cow’s milk allergy. Breastfeeding your baby can contribute to avoiding potential food allergies. The child is exposed to whatever the mother east as it passes through the breast milk. Also, the milk increases the child’s immune system.
Breastfeeding Prevents Future Problems
The benefits of breastfeeding just continue! Yes, it helps your baby, but it also provides benefits for your child for years down the road. It reduces the risk of obesity. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of type one and type two diabetes. They also have a decrease chance of high cholesterol, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
Breast Milk is Easier to Digest
Babies have delicate tummies. Breast milk is the perfect thing for their bellies, and it is often referred to as the “perfect food.” It is easier to digest and process because of its components. Infants quickly digest the lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fats. Formula can cause a baby to feel gassy and constipated.
Breastfeeding Helps Mom as Well
All of the benefits so far have been about the baby, but what about mom? Breastfeeding is great for mothers. Mothers who breastfeed their child for two years have a 50 percent decrease in the risk of breast cancer. They also have reduced the risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer.
Another nice benefit for the mother is that nursing mothers burn around 500 calories every day. You do have to ensure you eat and drink enough to keep up your supply. However, breastfeeding can help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. Also, breastfeeding decreases the uterus directly after birth.
Breastfeeding is FREE
You will need to purchase some supplies like bottles, breast pads, nipple cream and nursing bras. The price of these items is lower than formula. One can of formula can cost $20. Breastfeeding is free. If you are a budget conscious family, breastfeeding is the best choice.
Breast Milk May Increase IQ Levels
If you are hoping to raise a baby genius, breast milk may help your child have a higher IQ level. There is evidence that shows the effects of breast milk on brain matter may promote brain development at a structural level. Breastfed children tend to have a higher cognitive level, at least in males.
Reasons Why You Might Want to Bottle Feed
Some mothers opt not to breastfeed for an assortment of reasons. Whether you made the decision before the baby arrived or breastfed for a few weeks, it is a personal decision only you can make. Luckily, formula companies have done a great job working to improve the quality of formula offered on the market today.
Formula is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. The companies may not be able to replicate all of the benefits of breast milk, but they have done a fabulous job creating complex combinations of proteins, sugars, fats and vitamins. Don’t try to prepare your own formula at home. Commercially prepared formulas are perfect for your baby, and they are made under the safest conditions.
Not All Mothers Can or Want to Breastfeed
Some mothers don’t want to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. However, there are also mothers who cannot breastfeed even if they want to. Ongoing health issues can make breastfeeding unsafe or very difficult. HIV-positive women or women on certain medications can stop the possibility of breastfeeding. Mothers who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments typically cannot safely breastfeed their infant.
Bottle Feeding is More Convenient
While breastfeeding is convenient for the mother, it is often harder for everyone else. Everyone, especially mothers, needs a break from time to time. Bottle feeding means that anyone can feed your child. You can easily send their bottles to daycare, to grandma’s house or simply let Dad take over while you indulge in a hot shower.
Nighttime Parenting Can Be Shared
Waking up with your child every single day can take a toll on anyone. Breastfeeding mothers are the only ones that can help their baby in the middle of the night. Bottle feeding allows your partner to take over. You can swap turns or swap days. Overall, it makes sure each parent isn’t too sleep deprived.
Schedules are Easier to Create
Breastfed babies are notorious for eating whenever they feel the need. Bottle feeding makes it easier for parents to create a plan. Some families prefer their children to function on a schedule. Feedings and sleeping are all done at set times. If schedules are your thing, bottles may be the best choices.
Frequency of Feedings – Time Available
Bottle fed babies typically have less frequent feedings. Breastfeeding is a huge time commitment for mothers, especially in the beginning. If you are a working mom, you will have to pump on a schedule to ensure your supply doesn’t decrease. If you run errands without your baby, you will need to time things correctly so that you don’t miss a feeding, or you need to bring a pump with you.
Mothers Can Consume Whatever They Want
Sometimes, your baby can react to certain foods if you are breastfeeding. If you love dairy, your child may react, causing you to have to eliminate it from your diet. Also, breastfeeding mothers do have to be careful about their consumption of alcohol. Bottle feeding allows moms the opportunity to have a glass of wine with dinner or a few beers with friends.
Little Obstacles to Overcome
Breastfeeding comes with a significant learning curve. It hurts at first and can lead to cracked, bleeding nipples. Mothers have to learn how to latch their baby to their nipple correctly. It can take weeks for the pain to subside. Some parents feel that bottle feeding is easier and less of a hassle.
Bonding – Is One Better Than Others?
People often cite bonding as one of the best reasons to breastfeed. It is true that breastfeeding helps to bond a mother to her baby and vice versa. They are in tune with one another. Babies can smell their mom’s milk and often feel safest when with them.
However, bottle feeding mothers can be just as bonded to their baby. Spend time with your child. Do skin-to-skin, especially during the first weeks and months of your child’s life. Cuddle and love them as often as possible. There are so many ways to bond with your baby. Breastfeeding isn’t the only way.
Bottle feeding mothers, don’t despair! You can bond with your baby just as easily as other parents.
Can You Bottle Feed and Breastfeed?
To directly answer the question, yes you can! There is no set rule that you can only breastfeed or only use formula. This method is called supplementing. Many families opt for a combination feeding method. It gives the best of both worlds for some parents. There are some disadvantages, but it can work for your family.
Some women decide to supplement for personal reasons. Others are given no choice and have to supplement. The decision can be emotional, especially if you were determined to breastfeed your child exclusively. Remember, fed is best, and your child is healthy and growing!
Here are some reasons why some mothers opt to feed their child both breast milk and formula.
- Your child may have medical issues that require supplementation along with breast milk. If your baby is premature, you may have to supplement while you get your supply up with pumping.
- Some mothers have a low breast milk supply no matter what tricks they try. A previous breast surgery or medical conditions can make it impossible to increase milk production. If you are sure that your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk, supplementing is an excellent choice! The primary goal is for your baby to grow and develop.
- Parents of multiples may opt to supplement. Producing enough milk for two or three babies can be very hard! You will breastfeed all of the time, and you may not have a chance to pump. Supplementing can give you a seriously needed break.
- Mothers that are going back to work may find it too difficult or stressful to pump while at work. Some mothers don’t respond great to the pump. So, they pump what they can and supplement the rest. It decreases their stress, which can lead to a boost in supply as well!
Making Your Decision
As we just talked about, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Science proves to us that breast milk is the best choice for babies. Our bodies make it for our offspring. However, there are many reasons why mothers may not breastfeed their infants. For those situations, formula companies have extensively researched and developed a great replacement for breast milk. You may also decide to supplement and use both.
The decision is yours alone to make. Your goal is to feed and help your baby grow and develop. All of these choices will lead to that goal.