As your due date draws closer, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Because it is one of the most important decisions you will be making as you welcome your child into the world, it’s important to consider the benefits or disadvantages in both.
Physicians and hospitals recommend breastfeeding over formula, simply because breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for both baby and mom. Although there are all different kinds of formula, no formula has the same benefits as breast milk. We’ve outlined the advantages and disadvantages of both, however, so you can make an educated decision.
Breastfeeding – Pros
- Breast milk helps babies build up a strong immune system and antibodies to help fight and prevent infection. Breast milk also contains a high level of cholesterol, while formula has a lower level. Cholesterol helps the brain develop, and provides various benefits, such as vitamin D. Breast milk is easily digestible, with the perfect balance of sugars, fats, and proteins.
- Breast milk is completely free, unlike formula, which can be very expensive.
- Nursing creates an emotional bond between you and your child, that can be lacking when babies are bottle-fed.
- Nursing will help you lose some of your postpartum weight. Nursing uses 500-600 calories daily.
- Babies who are breast fed are hardly ever constipated, due to natural laxatives in breast milk.
- Breastfeeding protects your baby from many diseases, and some studies show that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding – Cons
- A nursing mom must maintain good nutrition to ensure enough milk. It’s hard to diet, and you must be conscious about eating. Additionally, some babies are sensitive to certain foods, like lettuce and cabbage, and many doctors warn against consumption of coffee and alcohol.
- Nursing can be stressful and painful in the beginning. The responsibility completely falls on you to always be available for your infant.
- Nursing babies are fed as often as every two hours, while formula babies can go until four hours.
- You know how much your baby is eating. It’s hard to measure an amount with breastfed babies.
- Mom can go about routine and leave baby with a babysitter or partner without having to pump or hurry back.
- The responsibility of feeding is not completely on you. The night feedings can be split between you and your partner.
- It’s easier to bounce back to yourself without the restrictions of breastfeeding.
Formula – Cons
- Babies that are bottle fed are at risk of developing allergies to certain formulas.
- The extra closeness that baby and mom experience while breastfeeding is lacking in formula babies.
- As we said before, no formula has been created that duplicates breast milk exactly – therefore, formula babies lack that extra protection and antibodies that breastfed babies have.
- Formula is extremely expensive, considering the amount needed to feed a baby.
- Many babies on formula suffer from constipation, and have firmer stools.
Overall, if you can breastfeed, go for it. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far. Some moms alternate breastfeeding and formula, however, there are a few disadvantages to doing so:
- You may become engorged, or your milk supply may dwindle.
- Your baby may be less willing to nurse because a bottle is easier to suck, and formula is more filling.
- Research has shown that babies that are fed formula early in life are prone to certain diseases, such as asthma and diabetes. The ideal is to start offering a bottle at 6 months.