Breastfeeding Versus Formula Feeding
It’s a very personal decision for every new parent to breastfeed or formula feed their baby. It depends on various factors like lifestyle, comfort level, professional needs, and certain medical conditions.
Breastfeeding is widely regarded as the best way of providing nutrition to newly born babies. However, If you are a mom who can’t breastfeed her baby or decides not to do so for whatever reason, you can formula feed your baby to provide him with the required nutrients.
Read this article to compare the various pros and cons of breastfeeding and formula feeding. This helps you to decide what is best for you and your baby.
Pros and Cons of Breast Milk
Breastfeeding provides a beautiful and fantastic way of bonding with your baby. It evokes cherishable feelings of inner happiness in both the mother and her baby. In addition to providing cherishable moments, it gives ideal nourishment to the baby.
The babies should be breastfed for at least the first six months, extending up to 12 months.
Pros of Breastfeeding
As per the recommendations of leading global health organizations, including WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding is an ideal nutritional choice for babies as it prevents several infections and allergies.
Provides Nutrition and Easily Digestible
Breast milk not only serves as an excellent nutritional choice but also keeps the digestive system of a newborn happy. The breastfed infants find it easy to digest breast milk. On the contrary, formula-fed infants struggle to digest formula powder.
As breast milk is easily digested, the breastfed babies experience fewer bouts of digestive issues like constipation or diarrhoea. Moreover, breast milk is enriched with various natural vitamins and minerals required by newborns.
However, breastfeed milk does not contain vitamin D, and all breastfed babies should be given vitamin D supplements for the first few months initially. These supplements may be continued till your baby becomes 1-year old and consumes enough vitamin D-fortified formula.
Although several formula powder companies try to include all the necessary nutrients in their formula, it cannot match breast milk’s exact composition.
Offers Different Tastes to Babies
The nursing or breastfeeding mothers consume a wide variety of balanced foods for acquiring
300 -500 extra calories every day. Depending on the various foods eaten by a mother, breast milk acquires various flavours and allows the baby to enjoy different tastes.
Moreover, it also helps breastfed babies to accept solid goods readily as they grow.
Fights Against Infections
As compared to babies fed with formula, the breastfed babies experience fewer infections and require lesser hospitalizations. It is due to various antibodies and other infection-fighting factors from a mother to her infant during breastfeeding.
Thus, breastfed babies have a strengthened immune system that reduces the chances of getting various infections like respiratory infections, ear infections, meningitis, diarrhoea, diabetes, allergies, obesity, asthma, etc.
Moreover, breastfeeding prevents sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and provides excellent benefits in premature babies.
Provides Benefits to Mothers
Breastfeeding provides immense benefits for babies as well as mothers.
This makes a new mother more confident in her abilities to take care of her baby.
One of the biggest challenges for nursing mothers is to get back pre-pregnancy shape and lose extra weight quickly. Breastfeeding helps in that as it burns calories and shrinks the uterus.
In addition to that, breastfeeding also helps in reducing the risk of diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. It also reduces breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, etc., in nursing mothers.
Available for Free
Breast milk is an excellent and natural nutritional source for infants, available free of cost. It does not require you to buy anything unless you pump breast milk and feed it to your baby.
Thus, it is a cost-effective alternative to formula milk that is costly and needs other feeding equipment like nipples, bottles, and other supplies. Moreover, breastfeed babies require fewer visits to the doctor’s clinic and save you money on prescriptions and medicines.
Offers the Convenience of Round the Clock Feeding
Breast milk is always available fresh round the clock for babies. You can breastfeed your baby anytime. Unlike formula milk, there is no need to rush to the departmental store. In addition, breastfeeding mothers need not require washing nipples or bottles at odd hours at midnight.
Provides Great Bonding Experiences
Breastfeeding provides an excellent way for nursing mothers to bond with their babies. Moreover, it improves the emotional connection between a mother and her baby as it involves skin-to-skin contact.
Cons of Breast Milk
Even though breastfeeding is recommended by health bodies globally, it has its own set of challenges. While some mothers embrace it wholeheartedly, others may take time to get used to it. It requires lots of patience for moms to adopt the breastfeeding routine.
Irregular Time and Frequency of Feedings
Breastfeeding does not involve following a fixed routine. On the contrary, it initially requires immense sacrifice and commitment from mothers, especially for the first six months when a baby depends solely on breast milk.
The irregular timing and frequency of breastfeeding make it harder for working mothers. It becomes tedious for them to pump breast milk or breastfeed a baby while travelling or running errands during the day.
The frequency of feeding is higher in breastfed babies as compared to formula-fed babies. You may need to feed the baby after every 2 to 4 hours in the initial few weeks. The breastfed babies eat more often because breast milk gets quickly digested than formula powder.
Although breastfeeding promises excellent bonding time with the baby, some mothers may feel uncomfortable getting used to it initially. However, most nursing mothers can quickly get over it through proper practice, education, support, and patience.
Some mothers may feel latch-on pain for the initial one or two weeks of their breastfeeding journey due to sore and tender nipples. This pain lasts for less than a minute and is considered normal.
However, in case the breastfeeding is accompanied by cracks, blisters, or bleeding; and
hurts throughout feedings, you need to seek help from your doctor or lactation consultant.
Most of the time, it’s about getting adapted to the proper breastfeeding technique and finding the comfort zone for landing the nipple in the baby’s mouth.
Not Suitable for Specific Medications, Medical Conditions, and Breast Surgery
Breastfeeding is considered unsafe in women suffering from various medical conditions like HIV or AIDS. In addition, some women who are taking chemotherapy or certain medications are advised not to breastfeed their babies.
Consult with your lactation consultant if you are on certain medications and not sure about breastfeeding your baby. Also, you need to check with the doctor regarding the safety of taking medicines such as herbal or OTC medicines during breastfeeding.
Those mothers who have undergone breast surgery may find it difficult to breastfeed the babies as their milk ducts are not functional. Thus, share your concerns with your doctor and seek his advice before beginning to breastfeed your baby.
Requires Diet Awareness
Breastfeeding women have to take great care of their diet and stay aware of whatever they eat or drink. This is because the components of a breastfeeding mother’s diet get quickly passed to the baby via breast milk.
If a mother consumes alcohol, she should wait for a few hours before breastfeeding to avoid passing alcohol to the baby through breast milk.
Also, you may need to cut down on your daily caffeine take if you consume more than two-three cups of regular coffee. This is to avoid issues like irritability and restlessness in some babies.
What is Powdered Milk?
No formula powder can replace breast milk for a baby’s growth and development. However, those mothers who cannot breastfeed their babies for whatever reason may feed their baby formula milk or powdered milk.
Milk powders are made for satisfying the nutritional requirements of babies. These powders are commercially produced by vaporizing the liquid milk. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of powdered milk.
Pros and Cons of Powdered Milk
Pros of Powdered Milk
Anyone Can Feed the Baby
A baby does not need his mom to feed him as either parent or caregiver can administer the powder milk with a bottle. You can provide your baby anytime.
With powdered milk, the mother can involve her partner in the feeding duties and thus, both parents can enjoy bonding with the baby.
Reduces Frequency of Feedings
As formula milk requires more time to digest than breast milk, formula-fed babies have fewer feedings.
Once you have prepared the bottles with formula powder milk, you can ask your partner or caregiver to feed your baby when you are busy. It gives you the flexibility to do your professional work or run errands without worrying about the baby’s feeding schedule.
Moreover, you can feed your baby anywhere without needing a private place to nurse your baby in public.
Eases Nipple Discomfort
If sore and tender nipples make it uncomfortable for you during breastfeeding, you can switch to formula feeding and get relief from the latch-on pain associated with breastfeeding.
No Diet Restrictions
If you are using powdered milk for feeding your baby, you need not worry about diet restrictions. Instead, eat or drink to your heart’s content as it will not affect your baby.
Enriched With Essential Nutrients
Formula milk is commercially prepared, and it contains all the nutrients required for a baby’s growth and development. It also includes Vitamin-D not found in breast milk. Thus, powdered milk prevents babies from infections and anaemia.
Reduced Risks of Transferable Diseases
The powdered milk does not involve skin to skin contact, and thus it avoids the risks of disease transfer from mother to baby.
Cons of Powdered Milk
Before you decide to formula feed instead of breastfeeding your baby, do consider the following cons of powdered milk.
Causes Digestive Issues
Unlike breast milk, formula milk is not readily digested by babies. Hence formula-fed babies may experience more gas, constipation, firmer bowel movements, and other digestive issues than breastfed babies.
Lack of Antibodies
Formula milk does not contain antibodies found in breast milk. Therefore formula milk doesn’t provide adequate protection against infections and illnesses as compared to breast milk.
Requires Adequate Planning and Organized Storage
While breast milk is always available in unlimited supply, you need to plan and organize the storage of formula milk for ensuring its adequate supply whenever required.
You need to keep buying formula milk at regular intervals so that you don’t have to run for department stores at odd hours in the middle of the night. Also, you need to arrange for other necessary feeding essentials like clean and sterilized bottles and nipples.
Making formula milk is a time-consuming process. It requires you to add the precise amount of powder to the right amount of water for making the appropriate mixture.
Breast milk is produced naturally in the mother’s body. However, powdered milk is commercially produced and requires you to spend some money to buy it.
Less Complex Than Breast Milk
There isn’t any manufactured formula that can replace breast milk in its complexity. Breast milk changes with the changes in the needs of the baby’s growth. Thus, powdered milk cannot replace breast milk completely.