Breastfeeding vs. Formula: a personal decision
Madi Davis | Staff Writer
Breastfeeding is a personal decision that shouldn’t concern anybody except for the expectant mother and her baby. Yet a majority of the time family, friends and even strangers will quickly volunteer their breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding opinions unprovoked, leaving the soon-to-be mother feeling guilty if she wants to bottle-feed her baby. Breastfeeding has a lot of health benefits for you and for your baby; that fact has been proven over and over again. However, bottle-feeding is not of the devil and you should never feel shamed, inadequate, or like a horrible mother if you decide that is what works best for you and your baby. Whether you choose bottle or boob should be your decision and your decision only.
Just like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. The greatest benefit of breastfeeding is that it’s free, and always will be. It is always available, 24/7. According to the journal of Pediatric Clinics of North America, breast milk contains nutrients your baby needs such as protein, carbs, fat, and calcium and is easy to digest. Breast milk has the ability of protecting infants against SIDS, allergies, asthma, and future problems with obesity. Breastfeeding may even help new mothers lose their baby weight quicker.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees about your baby’s health, or your health for that matter, if you choose to breastfeed. If a baby is more susceptible to developing allergies, asthma, or obesity and is breastfed, the severity of those sicknesses may decrease but it is not a guarantee that they will be eliminated altogether. Every woman and every body is different and not every woman is going to lose her baby weight because she chose to breastfeed her baby. Some women swear that breastfeeding knocked all of that extra baby weight off and other women say that breastfeeding didn’t help them lose a pound.
Along with the pros, the cons are inevitable. Breastfeeding is just as inconvenient as bottle-feeding. Your nipples are sore—some even crack and bleed—and your breasts may leak milk, which consequently shows through your shirt. If you are out in public doing whatever it is you do, you have to decide whether or not to feed your baby right there in front of everyone or leave wherever you are so that you’re baby doesn’t starve. Breastfeeding also compromises your time and makes it so that you have a small window of opportunity to go out and do something without your baby. If you value sleep, your husband can’t give much assistance for those nightly feeding parties—that’s all you, mama. Breastfeeding may also force you to change your diet in order to ensure your baby isn’t getting anything that could potentially hurt their tummy and/or make them sick. You may also develop mastitis, a bacterial breast infection that is extremely painful, makes you super sick and you still have to feed through it.
With all of the benefits of breastfeeding your baby, are you in a sense poisoning your baby if you choose to bottle-feed? Absolutely not. Bottle-feeding is underrated. According to the Institute of Medicine infant formulas are getting closer to approximating the ingredients of human milk, and will continue to tweak their formulas. Bottle feeding also allows other people to feed your baby if you are a working mother, going out, or want to allow your husband one-on-one time with your baby during feeding time. However, the downside is that formula is expensive and you have to pack bottles and formula everywhere you go, as opposed to having the milk pre-made and attached to you at all times.
The choice to breast feed or bottle-feed is your decision. Keep your judgments to yourself and let mothers choose what is best for them and their new baby. Mothers who choose to bottle-feed are not denying their baby anything; they are keeping their sanity so that they can enjoy being a new mother. If you choose to breastfeed, that is great. Whatever makes the most sense for you and your baby should be your main priority; don’t let anyone influence that decision.