Introduction: The constant back and forth between whether breastfeeding is better than formula bottle-feeding has raged for decades. And in the grand scheme, why it is still a debate makes no sense. Science has proved to breastfeed the much better option, but due to societal pressures of decency, many mothers still switch to bottles, glad to be rid of the onlooker stink-eye.
The benefits are vast. There is something about the warmth of the milk that inspires an infant to want to eat more. Even in a baby bottle warmer, raising formula to the right temperature to match mother’s milk, it still doesn’t quite have that effect on a nursing child. And this doesn’t even tackle the topic of bottle feeding with breast milk. A whole host of new pros and cons arise in that breastfeeding avenue.
Breastfeeding vs. Formula
Whether you prefer to breastfeed for a long time, or intend to cut off the mother’s milk early, choosing to switch to formula, there are a few things you will want to know.
- The bond between mother and baby will be strengthened. Skin contact secures a bond of trust.
- Since your breast is the receptacle, there is no need for extra bottles and related products.
- It is the most efficient use of nursing time. No need to sanitize bottles if they don’t exist.
- While it is a natural, biological activity, a society driven by shaming has given public breastfeeding a stigma. You may get dirty looks.
- Only you can nurse your child. So, it is important to find a good, consistent time in your schedule.
- There are certain foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Even if you crave one of these foods, it is best to stay away for the sake of the child.
- The formula tends to stay longer in your baby’s stomach, so you can feed less frequently. They feel fuller, longer.
- Bottle feeding is exponentially more convenient. No need to worry about public scrutiny, and formula last a while after mixed into water.
- What the mother eats won’t hurt the infant. If you want to have a glass of wine, or something on the list of foods that can inversely affect your breast milk, its ok because the child is getting formula.
- There are antibodies in breastmilk that help your baby’s immune system, and without them, it is harder for the baby to fight off infection. The formula doesn’t provide antibodies. Meaning it is more likely you’re for your baby to have trouble fending off illness.
- The formula is close to breastmilk by design, but it’s a blanket ideal. It is supposed to cover all baby’s needs, and your baby’s needs are very specific. Only mother’s milk evolves with the needs of the baby.
- There is a lot of air in bottles, and there is no good way to prevent that, so there is always a possibility that your baby will suck in air while feeding. This can lead to uncomfortable cramps and pain if not dealt with quickly.
When to feed is largely at the behest of the baby, but when to stop breastfeeding is entirely the mother’s decision. But how to stop breastfeeding may be tricky. Your baby is used to that skin-on-skin contact, that warmth and comfort. While you can bottle feed and still maintain skin contact, the baby knows the difference. Weaning your baby off over time is the best way to get them on the bottle for the duration of their bottle-feeding years.
There is always a school of thought that extended breastfeeding can have a positive impact on your child’s growth and nutritional intake. There are a few benefits and equally as many deficits in extended breastfeeding, but it has never been disputed as a bad thing. Toddlers who breastfeed become sick less, due to the immune-boosting properties of mother’s milk. But a child may be harder to wean off when they become older, throwing more tantrums when they don’t get to feed.
Conclusion: The pros and cons of any infant feeding ideal are extensive and well documented. For instance, breastfeeding while pregnant has its own issues. Hormones during pregnancy cut off the body’s natural desire to produce milk, even if you’re nursing. Infant feeding, in general, is important, and there are experts that specialize in nothing else but this one topic. Do you have any suggestions that can help struggling mothers with their infant feeding issues?
Author’s Bio: Betti Wilson believes wholeheartedly that breastfeeding is the most natural, biologically sound way to feed an infant. The fact that a society driven by shame and hypocritical piety has sent these mothers into hiding to do this natural act enrages her to the core.