Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding

How to decide between breastfeeding vs formula feeding? I will try to help you find a solution for this problem. Formula milk is a great option for many parents, but it’s not right for everyone. Although I feel that breast milk is the best food for babies, I do also understand that not everyone can breastfeed nor do they want to. Depending on your life situation, it just might be easier to formula feed. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve formula fed my babies, so I’ve been there too.

Breastfeeding vs formula feeding: what’s the difference?

It’s a question that comes up a lot in parenting forums and groups, and it’s not just because of the health benefits. Breastfeeding is often seen as more feminine than formula feeding, and parents who are not comfortable with this idea may find themselves concerned about the impact on their child. As a result, there are many questions about whether breastfeeding is better than formula feeding—and why there is so much controversy surrounding this issue.

As always, the answer depends on your situation. In general, breastfeeding has been shown to provide many health benefits for babies—from reducing the risk of SIDS to helping reduce allergies later in life. Formula-fed babies can still be healthy; however, these studies show that breastfeeding does have some benefits over formula feeding for both mother and child.

Breastfeeding vs formula feeding: which is better?

If you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby, congratulations! The benefits of breastfeeding are enormous, from boosting your baby’s immune system to helping him sleep better and reducing his risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). But if you’re not sure whether or not you should breastfeed—or if you’ve decided that formula feeding is the best choice for your family—it can be hard to know what’s best for your baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics,  the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the World Health Organization, all recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies (exclusively) for the first 6 months of life. Despite this, surveys performed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that by 3 months of age, only 40% of women are exclusively breastfeeding. In other words, like it or not, 60% are formula feeding.

Is formula milk as good as breastmilk?

Formula milk does not contain all of the nutrients that breastmilk does; therefore, it cannot provide all of the same benefits for your baby. However, recent studies have shown that even though formula milk lacks some nutrients from breastmilk (such as certain vitamins), it is still perfectly safe for babies to drink and does not cause any health problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed infant formula until they are at least 6 months old. After this time, breast milk or cow’s milk can be introduced into the diet of your child.

Commercially available baby formula has been with us for the last 50 years and it will likely stay. This is especially true since baby formula manufacturers continue to improve their products making formulas even closer to breast milk.

Breastfeeding vs formula feeding – why not to breastfeed?

So, who chooses formula feeding and why? It is important to note that not all women are able to breastfeed their babies due to various reasons including medical reasons or insufficient milk supply. Here are some examples:

  • Women who do not want to breastfeed
  • Women who go back to work
  • Women who do not produce any, or enough, breast milk
  • Women who are taking medication, drugs, or are ill
  • Women who have had breast surgery or breast implants
  • Premature babies who cannot suck
  • Babies born with birth defects like cleft lip
  • Babies born with lactose intolerance

Breastfeeding vs Formula feeding

Women who do not want to breastfeed

I was formula fed when I was a baby and I am not alone. Formula feeding was trendy back then: it showed that you were sophisticated and appreciated the “science” of feeding your baby – the “formula”, as it were. As well, feeding formula showed that you were rich enough to buy food for your baby instead of relying of the stuff coming out of your body

Well, it’s no wonder that many women of today’s generation choose formula feeding over breast milk. Why not continue a trend that works well enough? After all, we were bottle fed as babies and we turned out just fine. (*Research show that breastfeeding prevents childhood obesity. If this is true, then perhaps formula-fed babies don’t “turn out just fine”.)

In addition to their positive attitude towards formula feeding, there’s also the fact that breastfeeding is not easy. So, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding, or have no interest in breastfeeding, then go to formula! This survey shows that 66% of first-time-moms “preferred to bottle feed” as a reason for not breastfeeding.

It is far healthier for you to formula feed your baby and be happy instead of breastfeed your baby and be depressed. Babies are aware of your emotional state, so don’t force yourself to breastfeed and then hate yourself or your baby for doing so. Go formula.

Women who go back to work

In today’s competitive and busy world, women often go back to work soon after their baby is born. Some women are fortunate enough to have a private office, or an understanding supervisor, so that they can have Baby brought to them, fed and then taken away. In reality, this scenario is somewhat rare and women don’t have the choice to breastfeed their baby while at work.

Formula is certainly the easier way to go for working Moms and you don’t need to fret or worry. If you can, please do breastfeed your baby for the few weeks that you are on maternity leave. This study shows that women who plan to go back to work:
(1) do start breastfeeding, but
(2) breastfed for a shorter period of time, and
(3) the length of breastfeeding depended on the length of their maternity leave.

Remember that breast milk has antibodies which have not been reproduced in any store bought formula. Thus, even if you breastfeed for one week, that would help Baby get a good start in life.
An alternative to formula is to express your breast milk and have the care provider feed your baby breast milk through a bottle.

Women who do not produce any, or enough, breast milk

Time and time again I hear stories of women who stopped breastfeeding because their bodies did not produce any milk or enough milk. If this happens to you, then the next best thing would be to feed your baby formula.

Before you throw in the towel and declare your breasts non-functional, keep these facts in mind.
During the first 4 or 5 days after Baby is born, your body makes colostrum. This early form of milk is colorless or pale yellow and there isn’t very much of it. The white milk that everyone is familiar with comes about a week later. So when you see that your breasts are not bursting with wonderful breast milk, don’t abandon breastfeeding right away. Consult your doctor or a lactation specialist. Maybe you can make breast milk; you just need a little time for the milk to come in.

Another important thing to remember is that the amount of breast milk your body makes changes depending on how often the baby sucks. So, if you’re not making enough milk, you could try to breastfeed more often so that your body increases the supply. Don’t jeopardize your baby’s health though – if your baby isn’t getting enough milk to thrive, then go to formula.

There are 3 alternatives to formula:
(1) hire a wet nurse
(2) try to get breast milk from a milk bank ,
(3) continue to breastfeed and supplement formula feeding.

The women who told me that they didn’t make enough breast milk all had small breasts. I have small breasts too, yet I made breast milk fine. Lactation consultant and other experts say that breast size has no affect on the ability to make breast milk. However, these things may decrease your milk supply:
– stress,
– lack of confidence,
– poor latch on by the baby,
– baby not given enough time to suck at the breasts,
– mother has poor diet or does not drink enough water.

Formula feeding

Women who are sick or are taking medication/drugs

Some sicknesses such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, and AIDS can be transmitted from mother to Baby via the breast milk. In these cases, formula is best. If you have an existing disease, tell your doctor. If you are not sure, let your doctor know so that he can have you tested. In some cases, such as hepatitis B, the doctor may prescribe preventive medicines right after Baby is born so that he does not contract the disease.

Some medications and drugs can pass into the breast milk and affect the baby. Again, it would be best to use formula so that Baby is safe from the harmful effects of chemical agents. The pharmaceutical industry is producing more and more drugs to treat various conditions. Very few of these drugs have been tested to determine their affect on breastfed babies – so beware.

Even before Baby is born, medication and drugs may affect the baby growing inside you. Consult your doctor: perhaps there are alternatives which are known to be harmless to your baby. Or, your doctor may be able to advise you on therapies or treatment centers to free yourself of chemical dependency.

The US Food and Drug Association (FDA) lists drugs that should NOT be used when breastfeeding:

  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel), ,most Chemotherapy drugs for cancer, Ergotamine, Lithium, Methotrexate, drugs of abuse, tobacco smoke

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an extensive article on various drugs that accumulate in the breast milk and their affects on breastfed babies. A partial list of drugs which ARE compatible with breast feeding can be found here:

  • acetaminophen
  • many antibiotics
  • most antihistamines
  • alcohol in moderation
  • most antihypertensives
  • aspirin (with caution)
  • anti-epileptics (Primidone, with caution)
  • caffeine (moderate)
  • codeine
  • decongestants
  • ibuprofen
  • insulin
  • quinine
  • thyroid medications

Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding – more reasons to use baby formula:

  • Women who have had breast surgery or breast implants
  • Premature babies who cannot suck
  • Babies born with birth defects like cleft lip
  • Babies born with lactose intolerance

So what does this mean? Should you choose formula or breastmilk? If you’re able to breastfeed your child, then you should absolutely do so! Breastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits for both mother and child, including lowering their risk for certain diseases like diabetes later in life.

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