One of the biggest questions facing moms is the question of breast-feeding versus formula? You will spend more time feeding your baby than any other activity the first two years of life, and every mom needs to decide which method is appropriate for feeding her new baby. While there are clearly different opinions on each, we’ll explore the options and help you determine the best route for feeding your newest little wonder.
Science has proven there is no better nutrition for babies than a mother’s breast milk. Loaded with vital immune-boosting white blood cells, breast milk has been shown to reduce the risk of a baby developing a myriad of conditions ranging from minor ear infections all the way to potentially meningitis. Your breast milk is specifically designed to protect your baby from the viruses and bacteria that you have encountered and built a resistance to. Researchers are finding that babies who are breastfeed also experience fewer fevers after immunizations than those babies who are formula fed.
Breast milk has the perfect blend of nutrients including protein, sugar, and the vitamins your baby needs to grow and develop. Breast milk includes fatty acids such as DHA and ARA that are instrumental in helping your baby’s brain and eyes develop. Breast milk is easy for your baby to digest, reducing the amount of gas or belly pain he or she may experience. Studies have shown that breast milk may also reduce the risk of later weight gain.
Breast feeding isn’t only great for the baby, but also beneficial for the mother. Many new moms report feeling more relaxed while breastfeeding. While nursing, oxytocin is released encouraging relaxation and nurturing. As a result, there may also be a lesser risk of postpartum depression. Oxytocin is also instrumental in assisting your uterus in contracting, reducing postpartum bleeding. With breastfeeding, your uterus can return to its normal size in about six weeks, versus ten weeks if you don’t breastfeed. Studies are showing that breastfeeding may also reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The belief is that because lactation suppresses estrogen production and changes the breast tissue structure; there is an effect on the potential for breast and ovarian cancer.
There are fewer instances of postmenopausal osteoporosis in women who breastfeed, because they are able to absorb calcium more efficiently. One of the nice benefits of breastfeeding is it burns up to 400 calories a day, when you nurse your baby at least 20 ounces a day. While you’re enjoying snuggles and bonding while you’re breastfeeding, you’re also getting back to your original pre-pregnancy weight.
Your breastmilk also changes in its composition as your baby grows. When your baby is first born, with your first feeding, he or she gets a protein-high, antibody-rich form of breast milk called colostrum. It has the nutrients and immune-boosting properties your baby needs in the first couple of days. When your full milk comes in in about three days, then it’s made up of sugar, proteins, and nutrients to give your baby the satiation needed. It’s also designed to digest quickly so your baby will eat often.
While there are clearly benefits to breastfeeding, there are woman who cannot or choose not to breastfeed. As a result, there is formula available for new moms to select from for their new baby. Formula feeding is a valid and healthy choice for your baby, with its own benefits.
Historically, there has been the opinion that formula-fed babies have a larger number of medical issues than breast-fed babies. Infant formula has come a long way. Formula includes prebiotics to support immunity and those so-very-important fatty acids DHA and ARA for brain and eye development. Formula is very close to breast milk when it comes to nutrition. It even has some nutrients breast-fed babies need to get from supplements such as Vitamin D. Studies have shown when compared to their breast-fed counterparts, formula-fed babies are a similar track between the ages of 4 and 14 in many measures of health and intelligence, including body weight and mass, math ability and reading comprehension. That means your baby is not at any disadvantage by being fed with formula.
Women concerned they won’t be able to bond with their babies if they don’t breast feed, and that is simply untrue. Regardless of how he or she is fed, your baby is going to feel that he/she is being loved, nurtured and held. Snuggles are magical, regardless of where the food is coming from. With formula feeding, other friends and family also get to participate strengthening their bond with the baby. Formula feeding also offers you the opportunity to rest and heal as you need postpartum while others enjoy giving you’re the newest addition a bottle.
There seems to be a prevailing opinion that you need to pick one or the other between breast feeding and formula feeding. Supplementing with formula may be able to extend the length of time a mom can breast feed. Once a baby has gotten used to breastfeeding, switching back and forth isn’t a problem. Babies do often have a nipple preference, so you may need to try a variety of nipple styles to find the best one for your baby. It may also help to have other family members bottle feed your baby until he/she gets accustomed to the switch.
It is clear that breastfeeding has the best and most beneficial aspects in regards to feeding your baby. For both you and your new baby, it provides just the right stuff at the right time to help your newborn develop and to help you heal. Try to breast feed as early as possible and as long so he/she gets natural immunity from you. Breast feeding is in fact best, but if you are formula-feeding your amazing new little addition, he or she will be absolutely fine. There is unequivocally no shame in formula feeding; it in fact, has its own unique benefits. In the end, there are two things accomplished from both breast feeding and formula feeding your baby: your baby is fed and your baby is loved. When those two are met, then that is all that matter.