It can be hard to decide whether to breastfeed or formula feeds a baby when pregnant or nursing. There is a big difference between simply hoping for the best for your child and seeing it happen.
It is no wonder many parents get easily wracked with guilt over their choices. So I am here to give you a complete insight into breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding. It will help you to make a better decision for your baby’s diet.
Doctors strongly recommend breastfeeding unless there is a medical reason not to. Medical reasons not to breastfeed include illnesses and medications.
Formula feeding instead of breast makes sense for moms who are unable to produce enough milk.
Let us put aside the reasons cited above for a while. What are the factors to consider in deciding between breastfeeding or formula feeding?
This post explores breastfeeding vs formula feeding, with all their advantages and disadvantages.
Breastfeeding: Everything You Need to Know
Breastfeeding is beneficial for both baby and mother as it provides ideal nourishment.
Health organizations like the WHO and AMA recommend breastfeeding for good reasons.
Researches show that breast milk prevents babies from infections and hypersensitivity reactions.
According to the AAP, mothers must breastfeed their babies for at least the first six months. You can also supplement your baby with formula milk and food when the baby is above 12 months of age during breastfeeding.
Components of breast milk:
There are thousands of components found in breast milk, including:
- Beneficial lactic acid bacteria for protecting the digestive tract
- In the early days, breast milk contains a large amount of prolactin hormone. Prolactin helps in regulating appetite. Prolactin also encourages emotional bonding between the baby and the new mother.
- Initially, breast milk is also called colostrum. Colostrum contains millions of White blood cells that boost immunity.
- Antibodies for protecting against diseases
- It contains 3%–5% fats. These fats promote the development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system.
- Prebiotics for a healthy gut
Benefits of breastfeeding:
Fights infections and chronic conditions:
Antibodies found in breast milk help protect babies from infections caused by germs. Breastfed infants are less likely to get the disease because it prevents infections.
In comparison, the chances are that a formula-fed baby is more susceptible to infections. Breastfeeding can protect against ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, allergies, etc.
Free of cost:
The most obvious benefit of breast milk is that it doesn’t cost anything. You have to eat healthily, and your infant will have a constant supply of food. With baby formula, the cost adds up quickly. In addition to the formula, you have to purchase other supplies such as bottles and nipples
Breast milk is readily available. So it eliminates the need for last-minute runs to the kitchen to get your baby milk to feed. Moreover, you don’t need to warm up bottles or clean bottles and nipples.
Nutrition and ease of digestion:
Babies can digest breast milk contents with much ease. So it reduces the chances of digestive ailments to the baby. Except for vitamin D, breast milk provides all the nutrients your child needs to grow healthy. Once a week, give your baby a sunbath during the winter. It will provide vitamin D to the baby.
Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of infections in moms, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and breast cancer.
Downsides of breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding comes easy to most mothers, but some face a few challenges, including:
Many mothers feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding for the first time. Proper support, practice, and education will help you to overcome this problem.
Lactation time and frequency:
Breastfeeding requires a lot of commitment, especially during the first few weeks.
Lactating mothers may find it more difficult to perform other tasks while breastfeeding. It is advisable to follow a proper schedule to organize your life.
Maternal health condition:
Mothers with chemotherapy or illnesses in the past, i.e., AIDS, produce unhealthy breast milk. Moreover, mothers with breast surgery will have a difficult time producing enough milk. Every time a mother has concerns about lactation, she should consult her doctor.
It is important to be cautious of what you eat or drink during breastfeeding. During breastfeeding, you should avoid drinking alcohol, high mercury fish, and caffeine.
It is common during the first ten days and lasts less than a minute with each breastfeeding. Some moms experience latch-on pain throughout breastfeeding. In some extreme cases, the nipples or breasts become sore. Learning proper breastfeeding techniques can help. It would be best if you also refer to a lactation specialist for help.
Formula Feeding: Everything You Need to Know
It will help if you consider all aspects of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding while deciding.
Formula milk for infants is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. Formula milk aims to provide the rich contents found in breast milk because they contain complex nutrients.
Components of formula milk:
- Fatty acid, often sourced from fish oil.
- Vitamins and minerals derived from plant and animal sources
- Lactose or sugars like fructose, corn syrup, and maltodextrin
- Enzymes and amino acids
Benefits of the baby formula milk:
Formula feeding offers a variety of health and practical advantages, including;
You can leave your baby at home with a caretaker with no worries. When the baby is hungry, she can feed him with formula milk.
It eliminates the need to schedule other obligations around the baby’s feeding schedule. You will not have to find a private place to feed your baby.
You can share your duty of feeding the baby with the caretaker. It also makes moms and babysitters feel more involved in the feeding process and bond with the baby.
Mothers who opt to formula feed don’t have to worry about their diet. During breastfeeding, mothers have to avoid some foods.
Time and frequency of feedings:
Babies digest the formula milk after some time. That is the reason why formula-fed babies don’t eat very often.
Downsides of formula feeding:
The formula can prove costly in the long run. Especially if you use concentrated and ready-to-feed formula, babies consume over $1500 in the first year alone.
Lack of antibodies:
The baby formula doesn’t contain any of the antibodies. Hence it provides less protection against infections.
Planning and organization:
Using a formula requires a lot of planning and organization. Parents need to keep bottles clean and always have formula on hand for when needed. The last thing anyone needs is to make late-night runs to the store.
It is not as complex as breast milk:
Regardless of how good the formula is, it is never a good replacement. Unlike formula, breast milk changes as your baby get older.
The Bottom Line:
Deciding on the baby’s diet is difficult because it will directly affect your baby. In my opinion, you must prefer breastfeeding over formula milk. In case you are facing illness, you can go for formula milk.
This post compares breastfeeding vs. formula feeding with all their advantages and disadvantages. It will help you make an informed decision. You can also refer to a specialist if you can’t decide. He will help you to choose the best option.