Should I breastfeed or bottle-feed my baby? This is a burning question on the minds of many mothers these days. While this used to be something doctors would bring up with new mothers, it sadly doesn’t happen much anymore. There are pros and cons to both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, and you might not be completely aware of them all. I hope that this guide will help you come to a well-informed decision on this important subject.
Of course, choosing to bottle-feed your baby does not mean that you can’t feed them your breast milk! You can also use a breast pump to pump and store your breast milk in baby bottles for feeding at a later time.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Over Bottle-Feeding
Almost any doctor will tell you that a mother’s breast milk is by far the most nutritious when it comes to the choice of breast milk or baby formula. A mother’s breast milk contains many essential nutrients that aren’t found in baby formula.
Protects Your Baby From Illnesses
Many studies have shown that children whom are breastfed show far lower rates of illnesses like stomach viruses, ear infections, and respiratory illnesses. A study released by the National Institutes of Health in 2004 indicated that children who were breastfed had a 20% lower risk of dying between 28 days and our year old when compared to children who weren’t breastfed during this time. The longer children were breastfed, the lower the risk.
The first milk that your body produces for your baby is called colostrum, and it has large amounts of a substance called secretory immunoglobulin — this substance provides your baby with resistance against germs which in turn helps prevent illnesses.
Protects Your Baby From Allergies
Studies have shown that breastfeeding your baby can prevent them from developing food allergies, too. Generally, the earlier and more often a child is fed a certain food, the more likely they are to develop an allergy to it. Breastfeeding your baby helps to avoid food allergies in two ways: first, your baby is only being exposed to the foods that their mother eats and secretes in her breast milk, and second, breast milk helps boost a baby’s weak immune system.
Increases the Bond Between Baby and Mother
When a mother breastfeeds her baby, it gives her a sense of confidence in knowing that she can provide her child with all of the nutrients he or she needs. This not only helps strengthen the bond between the baby and mother, but also helps to relieve feelings of anxiety as well.
Easier For Babies to Digest
A mother’s breast milk is far more easy for a baby to digest; there are enzymes in a mother’s milk that make it much easier to digest when compared to formula or cow’s milk.
Let’s face it; money is important, too! If you purchase baby formula, you’re going to have to shell out quite a bit of money over the year. This could be upwards of $1000 per year — quite a bit of money that could be saved.
Benefits of Bottle-Feeding Over Breastfeeding
Now that you know all of the benefits of breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean that you should feel guilty if you choose not to do so! Not all mothers are comfortable—or capable—of breast-feeding, and that’s okay!
Not All Mothers Can (Or Want To) Breastfeed
Unfortunately, some mothers have ongoing health issues that make breastfeeding unsafe or not possible. Women who are HIV-positive, on certain medications, or are undergoing chemotherapy treatments aren’t safe to breastfeed their baby. On the other hand, some mothers simply prefer bottle-feeding over breastfeeding as a personal choice, and that’s fine, too.
Anyone Can Feed the Baby
When you breastfeed your baby, the downside is that you are the only one that’s able to feed the baby. Your husband, babysitter or any other caretaker is unable to lend a hand in this daily task. Feeding formula or using a breast pump is a a possible solution, but it’s not quite the same as breastfeeding.
Can Be Easier Than Breastfeeding
Bottle-feeding your baby can often be easier and more convenient than breastfeeding. As mentioned above, it can be somewhat of a hassle to have to pump and store breast milk for others to feed. Also, since baby formula tends to digest slower than a mother’s milk, it means that the baby remains satisfied longer.
Mother’s Diet Doesn’t Affect the Baby
If you choose to breastfeed, you have to be conscious of what you consume. Anything you eat or drink could potentially affect the quality of your breastmilk! Things like spicy foods, chocolates, vegetables, and other types of foods can make the milk difficult for a baby to digest. If you feed your baby formula, you no longer have to concern yourself with your diet and how it will affect your baby.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
While there are many health benefits to breastfeeding over bottle-feeding, it sometimes just isn’t feasible. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you are unable to breastfeed your baby; formula has come a long way, and today’s best baby formulas will have all of the necessary nutrients your child needs.
No matter whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby, the most important concern is this: do whichever makes you most comfortable as a mother.