Proven Benefits of Breastfeeding vs Formula For Nursing Mothers
Breastfeeding is usually the next activity after child birth. Most women begin immediately after child birth. Others wait for some days or even weeks, others yet do not breast feed at all. This last are women who are referred to as ‘formula feeders’ or ‘bottle feeders’. This means using commercially made baby products in the market to feed the baby. Whichever decision to be taken is solely that of the mother.
However, health experts strongly opine that breast feeding is the best not just for the mothers but for the babies too.
According to some renowned health organizations such as the World Health Organization, breast feeding is the recommended ideal feeding for babies and is of great benefits to the nursing mothers. It was also recommended that babies should be fed with just breast milk for the first six months (this is known as exclusive feeding).
Some of the benefits (for the nursing mothers) include:
- The possibility of reducing the risks of breast, ovarian and cervical cancers and heart diseases.
- It helps stall the arrival of the menstrual flow after child birth. This in turn may prevent iron deficiency which nursing mothers are wont to have.
- It helps to release hormones that help in mother-child bonding. Psychologists attribute this to the skin-to-skin contact during the feeding.
- It helps nursing mothers bounce back (loose weight) after the baby bump.
- It helps to retract the uterus so it goes back to its pre-pregnancy size. This is because the uterus expands and stretches during pregnancy.
There are also benefits for the babies too and they include:
- It helps the baby have a healthy digestive system. This helps to reduce the frequency at which they suffer from stomach upsets and disorders.
- It helps the baby’s immune system grow strong. This would prevent it from being affected by some infant illnesses such as cough, diarrhoea fever etc.
- It can also protect it against extreme health conditions such as allergies, diabetes.
- Breast feeding is extremely beneficial to premature babies as it helps build their bones and teeth by supplying the right quantity of calcium they need.
Although breast feeding is highly advantageous, it also has its own share of disadvantages:
- It is stressful. It is instantaneous and can take place more than fifteen times in a day.
- Adapting to this feeding schedule is usually difficult for new mothers during the first few weeks.
- It would require one to be discreet when feeding the baby in public places.
- Mothers would need to be particularly about the diets they choose to be on and may not take alcohol, caffeine etc no matter how much they crave for them.
- Newborn babies are constant eaters. This may be difficult to keep up with especially if she needs to work.
This is the safest alternative to breast milk. Recent improvements has fortified it with essential vitamins and minerals to meet the babies’ needs.
Although formula feeding may not be as healthy as breast feeding, it also has some benefits too:
- The meals can be prepared ahead of time. This helps to reduce the fuss that may arise at night since it has already been prepared.
- It makes for good family moments and bonds not just with the mother but with the father and even the siblings since anyone can feed the baby.
- It is prepared under the most hygienic environments so you can be sure it is quite safe and healthy too.
- It gives the mother the liberty to indulge in a diet without having to be worried about it affecting the baby.
- Little or no discretion is needed to formula feed. So it can be done at the mall, in the car, anywhere!
Disadvantages of Formula Feeding
- The anti- bodies, vitamins, minerals and fats naturally present in breast milk is definitely lacking here.
- Formulas can be quite expensive, especially the new ones which contain extra vitamins and minerals plus the materials needed to feed the baby with such as bottles, rubber nipples, casings, flasks, breast pumps, etc are quite expensive.
- Knowing the right quantity to measure and keeping it under the right temperature can be tasking.
- There are many formulas available at the market. Deciding which would work best for your baby without any reaction can be tricky.
- Babies may have issues digesting formulas thereby leading to constipation.
Having seen the advantages and disadvantages of both methods, there are still some reasons why mothers cannot breast feed even if they want to:
- Mothers living with HIV. This is a capital NO to breast feeding.
- Mothers with chronic and highly contagious ailments such as tuberculosis cannot breast feed their babies.
- Mothers addicted to hard drugs and alcohol.
- Mothers who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy
- Mothers with very demanding schedules.
Having seen both angles, a mother can now make a decision that would suit her. Decide which is the most practical for your life style and family. Talking to a doctor can also be a very good idea especially if you are at cross roads.