When you have a tiny little life in your hands, the task of choosing what’s best for him/her is monumental and life-defining. One of the first choices parents need to make is whether to breastfeed or formula feed their child.
Nature ordains a mother must feed the child which is evident by the biological changes in a mother’s body to ensure that. Most health organizations also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months and encourage it till the baby is 12 months old. Beyond that, it is a decision best left to the baby and the mother. For some mothers, it may not be possible to breastfeed the baby due to reasons like poor lactation, health issues, or simply personal choice.
Why you should breastfeed?
- Breastfed babies are reported to experience fewer respiratory and ear infections, diarrhea, and meningitis than formula-fed infants. This is because a mother’s milk provides natural antibodies to the child and helps build his/her immunity.
- A mother’s milk may also protect a baby from allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity in the long run.
- Breast milk’s composition changes according to the baby’s nutritional needs, which is impossible to achieve in formula milk.
- Breast milk is easily digested by the weak digestive system of a newborn compared to formula milk.
- Studies suggest that babies who are breastfed have a slightly higher IQ than formula-fed babies.
- Breastfeeding helps creates a bond between mother and child.
- Breastfeeding also helps the mother lose the pregnancy weight and get back in shape. Some studies show that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease in mothers.
Why breastfeeding can be challenging?
- Breastfeeding is challenging for a new mother. The latching on can be painful and frustrating for both mother and child in the beginning. Bleeding and a few frustrated tears are expected.
- Breastfeeding is a massive commitment. The mother’s life revolves around the baby’s feeding time. Also, a breastfed baby needs to be fed more often compared to a formula-fed baby.
Formula milk can be a blessing!
- Formula milk is convenient when you are rushed or unable to feed the baby for some reason. Some breastfeeding mothers give formula feed to the baby at night to ensure a filled, little tummy and therefore a good night’s sleep.
- It allows the mother to be flexible as the baby is not dependent on her for a feed. A caregiver or a grandparent can also feed the baby.
- The partner can also bond with the baby while formula feeding.
- Mothers who formula feed don’t have to abstain from eating certain foods and drinks, which a breastfeeding mother has to in order to avoid a problem in the baby’s digestion.
Sometimes formulas can be troublesome too.
- Formula-fed babies are likely to be constipated and have gas issues as formula milk is harder to digest.
- Formula milk is a pretty expensive and hassling affair with the bottles, the nipples, and the formula powder that need to be carried around everywhere.
- Formula milk today comes pretty close to the nutrition levels in a mother’s milk however, the optimum utilization and absorption of nutrients are not so efficient. Additionally, some nutrients in a formula milk may not be well-tolerated by babies.
It is an important choice and it is a choice that mainly a mother has to make. So weigh the pros and cons. And I hope you make the best decision for you and your baby.