To breastfeed, formula feed, or to mix feed (breast feeding and formula feeding) is an important decision mothers have to make before the birth of their child.
I, personally, have only breast fed my two children, and am currently tandem feeding. Although, I have to admit that when I had my second child, I would eye off the formulas in the supermarket because my first child was so young.
However, I persisted to tandem feed and soon got the hang of things. My daughter is 2-and-a-half, and my son is 15 months old, and they are thriving, healthy children who hardly ever get sick.
Before I had children, I was living with a friend who had a baby, and oh how I felt for her. Her breasts would bleed and they would engorge, and she persisted for as long as possible. I believe due to a lack of information and support given to new mothers, many encounter these problems.
I was very lucky. I had a great midwife who told me rub my nipples with my breast milk, and also lanolin. I had pain for the first two weeks, and that was it. Below is a list of the benefits of breast feeding, as well as the benefits of formula feeding, to help with your decision.
Every mother and family have different circumstances and shouldn’t be judged, no matter what decision they make.
Benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breast milk is readily available, and you don’t have to prepare a bottle. Preparing a bottle includes buying and then sterilizing the bottles, boiling water and then letting it cool for 30 minutes, adding formula as per instructions.
- Breast milk is free. Formula is around $1,100 a year in America
- It’s a wonderful bonding experience with your baby. The skin to skin contact helps relax the baby and make the mother and baby bond closely.
- Breast milk supplies infants with all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It also contains antibodies that can protect the infant from common childhood illnesses.
- Over the rest of the child’s life, breast milk can contribute to a lifetime of good health. Through studies, it has been found that breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight or obese, it reduces the risk of developing asthma, type 1 and 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, leukemia, and lymphoma. This is providing the mother’s diet is of a reasonable standard.
- Breast feeding also benefits the mother. It can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Mothers can also return to their pre-pregnancy weight quicker by breastfeeding.
- When not properly prepared, formula can be dangerous for the infant. If bottles aren’t sterilized properly, if the water is unsafe or not boiled, or there could be the possibility of bacteria present in the formula.
- Breast milk is usually more easily digested than formula, so breastfed babies are often less constipated and gassy.
- Breast feeding in public can be embarrassing, and some places don’t allow it. I would put a cloth over my baby covering my breast and baby; however, sometimes people would try and look under the cloth, which was uncomfortable.
- Formula feeding is convenient. The baby can be fed by anyone at any time. Breast fed babies always need their mom.
- Even if a mother does decide to pump her breast milk, it can become inconvenient for her, having to fit pumping into her work schedule. With formula, you can leave it with whoever is minding the baby.
- Your partner or other family members can help with feeding, and can share in the bonding experience with your baby.
- Since formula isn’t digested as quickly as breast milk, the baby won’t need to feed as often, especially in the first few months.
- You can eat whatever you want. I once had too much cream and my newborn was awake every 30 minutes at least with a lot of gas.
- You can drink alcohol if you like. Breast feeding mothers must avoid alcohol, as it will pass into the mother’s milk.
- Due to lack of education and support, some women may experience discomfort due to breast feeding, such as cracked and bleeding nipples, engorgement, mastitis, or blocked ducts.
Whatever you choose to feed your baby—breast milk, formula, or a combination of both—the most important things a baby needs are to be well-fed, and have lots of care and love.