A Look at Breastfeeding and Bottle-FeedingLooking at the options of breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or a combination, requires some objective thinking, but after all the cards have been placed on the table, it remains a personal choice for each individual mother and the family's lifestyle.
The topic of feeding our babies is still a sensitive one. We can all agree at the end of the day that fed is the minimum we should all start with. The simple fact that you're here reading this is a testament that you want the very best for your little one.
Looking at the options of breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or a combination requires some objective thinking, but after all the cards have been placed on the table, it's clear that the choice between breastmilk and formula remains a personal choice for each individual mother and the family's lifestyle and circumstances.
To overcome breastfeeding challenges, or the decision not to, is a dilemma of every new parent. All family members should extend all the support they can.
Both breastfeeding and formula have pros and cons. So to keep an objective mind, let’s look at what makes each one a great option and what the potential setbacks can look like.
Breast milk is considered to be the best feeding for your little one because it contains the necessary building blocks for healthy and normal development. Breastfeeding also involves skin-to-skin time with your baby, which produces the hormone oxytocin that stimulates your milk production. This ensures you always have a sufficient supply to meet your baby’s needs.
Health professionals and even the World Health Organization considers breast milk as the most ideal source of nutrition for infants before solid foods. The benefits are for both the mother and the baby.
Why it's best.
Breastmilk is produced on a supply and demand basis and provides well balanced nutritional meals that change over time to keep up with the nutritional demands of your infant. In addition to this, breast milk contains millions of live cells such as stem cells and immune-boosting white blood cells. There are over 200 sugars that act as prebiotics responsible for providing good bacteria for your baby’s gut and they also prevent infections from entering your little one's bloodstream. There are many immune-boosting and development components in breastmilk that are essential to good health.
Breast milk contains different hormones that serve as messengers between tissues and organs to ensure proper function to support good health. Good health is also made possible through antibodies that are passed to your baby through your breastmilk. If you’re ill, your body will produce antibodies to fight the bacteria or virus. These antibodies will form part of your breastmilk to protect your breastfed baby from being infected with the same illness.
Breastfed babies are at lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS compared to infants who were never fed breast milk. Newborn infants' immune systems are immature and breast milk naturally provides the necessary antibodies to boost the baby's immune system to protect them from a number of health risks including SIDS.
By taking into consideration all the nutrients babies need, breastfeeding moms are more mindful into a lifestyle of healthy diet. The mother develops a habit of including healthy food into her diet and result to overall well-being and another plus point if in the process lose weight and bounce back to pre-pregnancy body sooner.
Finally, aside from being a healthy choice, by feeding babies breast milk parents save money. An estimated $1,200 - $1,500 additional cost of living is added to every family for infant formula alone.
Keep in Mind.
Although breastmilk is said to contain everything your baby needs to maintain good health, there are still a few shortfalls such as low levels of vitamin D (for bone development) and needing additional iron. You should check your lactation consultant for advice on when and how to take vitamin D supplements.
Breastfeeding can create an emotional and mental toll on mothers, too. It’s a time consuming process that can't be placed on anyone else but you personally to fulfill. You may also feel overwhelmed by milk supply issues, juggling breast and nursing pads, and other potential issues. It's important to find the right balance when you take on the task of being your baby's main food supply.
Formula (bottle feeding)
It is generally accepted that bottle-feeding refers to formula milk, but moms who express breastmilk also use a bottle to feed their babies with said expressed breastmilk. In this case, bottle-feeding refers to formula milk.
Not all women, for a number of reasons, can breastfeed their babies. It may be a personal preference, health and safety issues, work schedule or an ongoing health problem. Some women even had their milk ducts removed after surgery.
In the first few weeks after birth, some mothers may not have enough milk to nourish their infants, thus supplementing with infant formula.
There have been great strides taken to mimic the changing structure of breastmilk through the creation of different age-bound baby formulas. You could say that the use of biomimicry has improved formula milk to cater to your baby’s growing nutritional needs. Each formula stage provides the necessary nutrients for normal healthy growth and development.
Why it's best.
The need to give your baby supplements is lessened because formulas include necessary supplements like vitamin D and iron that may be deficient in breastmilk. Baby formula is created to provide your little one with the necessary nutrition for healthy growth and each formula type has different benefits for babies of different ages. Your pediatrician will advise you on the best formula for your little one, so ask!
Baby formula mostly comes in powdered form that gives it enough shelf life to use safely before the expiration date. Mothers will have to use bottled or boiled water to mix the formula. It is important to measure and mix the formula according to the directions to maintain consistency. For mothers who cannot breastfeed for various reasons, formula is a viable option and the other benefits of breastfeeding, such as skin-to-skin time with your baby, can still be accomplished by bottle feeding in the same manner as breastfeeding.
Babies digest formula slower, that's why formula fed infants don't need to eat as often as breastfed babies. Lesser feeding times can fit better in a mom's busy schedule.
Mothers don't have to worry so much about their diet. Some medical conditions may cause a woman to produce too little milk and it can take a while before milk supply reach a healthy level. This dilemma can be taxing on a new mom's mental health as she can be branded as a 'bad mom' for not providing the ideal nourishment for her baby. Resorting to formula feeding can help complete the nutrients that the mother cannot naturally produce.
Keep in mind.
Formula milk may well provide the necessary nutrition for your baby, but what it lacks is the immune-boosting qualities found in breastmilk. Your pediatrician may recommend prebiotic and probiotics to further supplement your little one. Be sure to consult your baby's doctor for proper formula feeding that meets the infant nutrition your child needs.
Psychologically, there's more negative stigma that comes with choosing to bottle feed. The guilt can create negative emotional and mental imbalances. Finding personal confidence and a like minded community can help mothers who choose bottle feeding feel more supported.
A Personal Choice
Our modern lifestyles place enormous stress on the family unit, which in many cases compel mothers to work part or full time. Maternity leave ranges from three months to a full year in some countries, and breastfeeding is advised for a minimum of 12 months.
If you do not have the luxury of long maternity leave, as certain job requires, then you may have to consider expressing milk with a breast pump, or transition to formula milk. Many mothers combine breastfeeding and formula milk as a balanced alternative to provide their little ones with everything they need for healthy growth and development.
Whatever your situation may be, as long as your baby is fed and loved, they're off to a great start!
How Can KeaBabies Help Support Your Choice?
No matter which route you choose, you’ll need one of our organic burp cloth sets for those inevitable messes! If you choose bottle feeding, you may find our bandana baby bibs may catch messes better. If you choose to breastfeed and you’re out and about, our multi-use covers are excellent for granting privacy. Our organic nursing pads are great for moms who leak from breastfeeding as well.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.