Breast Vs. Bottle Still Debatable?
Posted on March 28 2017
As observed in humans and in other mammals, mothers begin lactation from the mammary glands post-pregnancy. This is a natural means of providing nourishment to their young in the form of mother’s milk. The human process of feeding milk is called breastfeeding or nursing. This process has long been regarded to be a human necessity for the earliest stages of a baby’s life. It has been proven and credited to garner the following benefits:
• Support resistance to infections during early years of life
• Weight regulation for both mother and baby
• Oxytocin release, making post-delivery healing faster
• Lower risk of breast cancer and other baby-related cancers
• Antibody building
• Economical/ Substantial Savings – considering that it’s free
• Post-baby birth control
• Feelings of fulfilment and satisfaction
• Introduction to different tastes – since the taste of the milk will be influenced by the mother’s diet
• Convenience – just pull up your shirt, get into position and go. No more mixing and measuring.
But if it’s so advantageous and easy, why do people still look for alternatives? Of course, the need for formula and the increasing popularity of formula feeding stems from certain disadvantages posed by breastfeeding. Some of these include the following:
× Lack of Freedom – leaving the baby for more than a few hours can be difficult
× Dietary Restrictions – breast milk nutrition is equivalent to mother’s dietary nutrition
× Physical Problems – soreness, inflammations, infections of the breasts
× Lack of measurement
× Physical changes in breast shape and form
× Nipple Leaking
× Possibility of passing on infections
× Lack of dad/sibling/grandparent bonding – since feeding is usually a primary source of emotional bonding
× Some mothers are incapable of breastfeeding (inverted nipples/lack of milk production)
Nowadays, more and more breakthroughs and discoveries are being made that further the effectiveness and reliability of baby formula. Though most doctors will still probably recommend breastfeeding in the earliest stages, they are becoming more supportive towards bottle feeding and formula. It also stands to offer a different set of advantages to both the baby and the mother.
• Comfortable and less invasive
• Easier feeding in public
• No dietary restrictions for mother
• Less demanding – breastfed babies generally want to be fed more often
• Shared family experience – anyone can feed the baby
• More options – you are free to choose from a variety of brands, ingredients, and features of formula
• Lessened post-baby birth control, if you’re looking to get pregnant again soon
• Balanced nutrition – so you know what your baby is getting from the milk
But, of course, bottle feeding is also disadvantageous in some ways. Some of the most pressing disadvantages and risks include:
× Lack of antibodies – formula researchers have yet to recreate the nutrition provided to newborn babies
× Lack of convenience – since you’ll have to face the possibility of running out and having to buy more
× Digestive Issues in babies – formula-fed babies may experience more gas and constipation
× Resulting in “picky eaters” – since babies grow accustomed to a specific taste, this may lead to children becoming pickier eaters in the future
× Lack of natural post-birth healing
SETTLING THE SCORE
So then, with all the advantages and disadvantages taken into consideration, which option is the most recommendable to mothers? Simple: BOTH. More and more of today’s doctors will probably advise breastfeeding for the first few months of life, since formula is still not advanced enough to recreate the initial protection and antibody provisions of breast milk. However, after the first couple of months, it is most advisable for mothers to alternate between breast milk and formula, eventually allowing full-on formula dependence until the introduction of solid foods.
Formula isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. In the same way, breast milk isn’t as ideal as most people believe it to be. The carefully calculated balanced nutrition offered by formula allows for both the child’s health and the mother’s comfort. It gives the mother more freedom to eat what she wants and be away from her child from time to time while still giving the baby the nutrients he/she needs to become perfectly healthy.
However, in the long run, it’s still a matter of the mother’s preference. Some mothers may opt for breastfeeding so as to either save money or guarantee bonding time with their children. Some mothers, especially those with busy schedules, may opt to rely completely on the bottle after the first few months.
The good news is that a middle ground has emerged; one that allows the mother to save time and money by breastfeeding, while still allowing herself a certain degree of freedom and mobility. More and more mothers are investing in breast pumps that will allow her breast milk to be bottle-fed to her baby. In a sense, it’s getting the best of both worlds with very little compromise.