Breastfeeding is not always preferable or possible for every new mom. The decision to breastfeed or bottle feed a baby is based on the lifestyle of the new mom as well as her comfort level with the idea of breastfeeding her baby.
1. Which option is better: breastfeeding or formula feeding?
According to experts in the field of medicine, breastfeeding newborn babies is the best option. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that newborn babies can be exclusively breastfed for at least the first 6 months, after which you can introduce solid food. It could be continued during the first year and if desired until the second year.
There are cases in which breastfeeding the child is not medically recommended. It is best to talk to your pediatrician if you have questions regarding whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby. Irrespective of whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed your baby, don’t worry because your baby’s emotional and nutritional needs will be met.
2. All About Breastfeeding
(a) Advantages of Breastfeeding
There are many advantages of breastfeeding your newborn. The most important advantage is that breast milk is easily digested by the infant. Breast milk has all the nutrients that a newborn baby needs such as protein (casein and whey), lactose and fat. Commercial formulas try to include all the components that are present in breast milk and come quite close but are not the same as breast milk.
Another advantage of breast milk is that it has antibodies which keep the baby safe a variety of infections and illnesses such as respiratory infections and diarrhea. According to research, babies that have been breastfed are less likely to develop problems such as asthma, high cholesterol, diabetes, and allergies. Breastfeeding also reduces the chances of a child becoming obese or overweight.
Breastfeeding is beneficial for the mom as well. It helps her burn calories and also helps to shrink the uterus thus helping the new mom get back into shape quicker than she otherwise would have. There are researches indicate that breastfeeding moms are also safe from ovarian and breast cancer.
Breastfeeding is quicker, easier and even cheaper than formula feeding. You do not need to prepare breast milk where as you need to get up and prepare the formula feed. You cannot run out of breast milk in the middle of the night the way you run out of formula feed. Breastfeeding doesn’t cost you the way formula feed comes at a price. A mother who is nursing is not required to eat more than usual. Some nursing mothers may want to buy nursing pads, nursing bras, and a breast pump but all of these equipment’s cost is lesser than formula.
Breastfeeding also serves the purpose of creating and improving the emotional bond between a mother and her newborn baby. The contact between the two helps enhance the emotional connection while it provides nourishment to the child as well as gives confidence to the mother by making her feel that she has the ability to take care of her newborn child.
(b) Breastfeeding Limitations
Although breastfeeding has so many advantages, not every new mother opts to breastfeed. Why is that so?
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment for a new mother. It is possible for a new mom to feel tied down because of the demands of a newborn to be nursed. Babies who are breastfed eat more than babies that are formula fed because breast milk is easily digested. This basically means that the new mom will be breastfeeding her baby once in every two to three hours for the first few weeks. This could be pretty tiring for the new mom but soon the baby will start feeding less and will sleep for longer hours during the night.
Another reason why a woman may not be able to breastfeed her child is that she has to go to work or may need to be separated from her baby for a few hours every day due to other reasons. One option is to start formula feeding the baby. The second option is to use a breast pump to collect milk which can then be giving to the baby via a feeder. This way the baby gets all the benefits of breast milk despite being fed by a bottle.
(c) Be a part of Breastfeeding process
The dads and other family members might want to be a part of the breastfeeding process. When the new mom is breastfeeding, other siblings or the dad may want to be close by and help the mother feel comfortable or provide her with a burp cloth. This way they can be a part of the breastfeeding process. When the mom needs a break, other family members may also help support giving the pumped baby breast milk in a bottle.
A new mom might feel apprehensive or embarrassed about breastfeeding. Normally, once a successful breastfeeding process has been established these feelings go away. It is advisable to seek the counsel of people who has gone through the experience of breastfeeding. Most birthing centers and hospitals provide new mothers detailed guidance on how to breastfeed.
Your pediatrician or nurse can answer your queries or get you in touch with a breastfeeding support group or lactation consultant.
(d) When not to Breastfeed
There are cases where the mother’s health does not allow her to breastfeed her child.
- When the mother is undergoing chemotherapy due to breast cancer.
- She is Infected with HIV.
- Due to medical conditions, when you are taking medicines regularly.
- You are pregnant when you already have newborn breastfeeding infant.
Pump breast milk to maintain milk production when not advised to breastfeed. It is best to avoid the use of bottles or pacifiers until you have established a successful breastfeeding process. Introducing bottles or pacifiers before breastfeeding is established is known to cause “nipple confusion” and may result in the newborn giving up the breast. Wishing you a successful breastfeeding experience!