One of the most significant decisions you will face as a new mom is whether to breastfeed or formula feed. There are questions and opinions surrounding both, so it can be very difficult to decide. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding each have benefits, and in the end, it’s up to you to figure out which method is best for you and baby.
Breast milk is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) because it supplies infants with the nutrients they need to grow. According to the AAP, mothers should breastfeed their babies for at least the first six months of their lives. Even after other foods are introduced into their diets, it is still recommended to breastfeed for several months if possible.
Breastfeeding benefits moms as well and has been reported to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer. Aside from decreasing health risks, breastfeeding also provides wonderful bonding opportunities for both mother and child.
Breast milk can easily be pumped for convenience. This allows for public feedings and provides ample opportunity for dad to also bond with the baby.
Research has also shown that babies who have been breastfed suffer fewer infections, experience fewer allergies and provides protection against many chronic conditions. This is because antibodies are passed from mother to baby during breastfeeding and help strengthen the infant’s immune system.
Breastfeeding has also been shown to improve a baby’s digestion. Breast milk is comprised of lactose, fat, and protein, all of which are easy for a newborn to digest. It is also full of many vitamins and minerals babies need to grow, with the exception of vitamin D, which can be provided in supplement form.
Breast milk is free. If you decide to pump your milk for those times when breastfeeding the natural way isn’t possible, you’ll still incur the cost of bottles and other feeding supplies such is the breast pump, but overall you’ll probably still save money.
Formula feeding, often referred to as bottle feeding, also offers many benefits for both you and baby. Commercially sold formulas are nutritious, and even contain some vitamins and other nutrients that breast milk does not.
Formula feeding is also convenient. Your partner can quickly and easily prepare the formula in a bottle, which creates more opportunities for further bonding.
Bottle feeding provides more flexibility. There are times when you will need to leave your baby with a friend or family member who will be responsible for one or more feedings. Formula feeding allows you to do this without worrying about whether or not you’ve pumped enough breast milk, and can help put your mind at ease when you’re away from your infant.
Formula fed babies typically require fewer feedings each day. This is because formula is less digestible than a mother’s breast milk.
Your diet is not a concern. If you choose to formula feed, you won’t have to worry about staying away from certain foods or drinks that could have a negative effect on your breast milk.
Before making the decision to breastfeed or bottle feed, carefully consider all the benefits of each. Keep in mind they both provide bonding experiences, each one different from the other.
Some mothers decide to breastfeed for a while, then switch to the bottle, but how long you breastfeed your baby will depend on many factors that are unique to each person’s situation.
Another option is to combine them both. Some mothers choose to breastfeed while supplementing with formula.
Choose the method that best fits you, your family, and your lifestyle. If you’re having trouble deciding, talk to your doctor for more information and recommendations.