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I was interested in breastfeeding my baby before she was even born. I wasn’t sure how often or how much, but I felt as if I needed to because of the health benefits that came with it. Part of my decision to do it was because of all the medical professionals touting the advantages of it. For the first 2 months of my daughter’s life though, I did end up breastfeeding the majority of the time, because she seemed to be very sensitive to formula and ended up spitting it up all the time. I only breastfed for about 5 months, but the recommendation is that mothers try to breast feed for a year or longer.
The decision to breastfeed or bottle feed is a personal one, but it can be based on your work arrangements, daycare, social support, and beliefs about the pros and cons of it. If you do decide to breastfeed and are new to it, check out this article, as it has lots of useful tips.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
- It is unlikely to upset the infant’s stomach.
- Breastmilk has the mother’s antibodies in it, so this helps prevent the development of health problems such as ear infections, asthma, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting, obesity during childhood, and pneumonia.
- Cheaper than buying formula!
- May help the mother lose weight (I lost a lot of weight in a hurry!)
- Can also help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer in mothers.
- It is associated with better neural and behavioral organization in the infant.
- May help mothers respond more calmly to stress
- May help make vaccines more effective.
- Reduces the risk of SIDS
- Studies are inconclusive on this, but breastfed babies tend to have higher IQs later in life.
- May reduce the risk of obesity in the child later on in life.
- For moms, breastfeeding helps heal your body after delivery and it may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Delays menstruation.
The Negatives of Breastfeeding
- Mom takes responsibility for nighttime feedings.
- Can be physically demanding to produce and expel milk (Also, consider the time it takes if you decide to pump milk).
- Soreness in breasts: If I didn’t feed my daughter all the time, my breasts became sore. Sometimes I would have to get up in the middle of the night to pump, because my breasts were sore, and my daughter hadn’t woken up yet to be fed.
- Alcohol and other drugs can be transmitted to infants through breast milk.
- Can be an inconvenience to have to be continually available to meet the infant’s needs.
- The breasts sometimes leak. I had to use pads in my bra, so it didn’t leak through my clothes.
- There may be fear of criticism of feeding in public. I did this a few times, but I had no problems. I’d recommend a nursing cover like the one below if you want some coverage.
Benefits to Bottle feeding
- Both mom and dad can share in the feeding of the baby.
- No fear of criticism for breastfeeding in public.
- No sore breasts.
- Can be more convenient at times, especially when the mother has to go back to work.
- No breast pumps.
- You can take certain medications (while you can’t take certain ones when breastfeeding).
Negatives to Bottle Feeding
- More expensive, as you have to buy formula and bottles.
- Not as many health benefits to the baby or mother.
- More preparation involved.
- More dishes to wash (bottles, bottle tips, etc.)
- Having to plan ahead (ensuring you have enough bottles, formula) when you leave the house.
As a mother, you do what you think is best for you and your baby. The most important thing is that your baby is nourished. Just enjoy this time, because it goes so quickly!
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/making-decision-breastfeed