Deciding on whether to feed a newborn with breast milk or formula milk is one of the biggest and probably one of the highly debatable decisions that expectant and new parents ought to face.
Some mothers feed their baby exclusively with breast milk which is what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) would recommend for babies to take during their first six months. The AAP also encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding their baby until at least the baby turns a year old and even other foods apart from breast milk have been introduced to the infant.
While breast milk is the best nutrition that a mother can give to her baby, there are times when the mother becomes unable to breastfeed her little one. This can be attributed to both personal and medical reasons. In this case, feeding the baby with formula milk can be a healthy alternative to breastfeeding.
The advantages of breast milk
Breast milk has all the essential minerals, nutrients, antibodies and growth hormones that are enough to meet the growing needs of your baby. It is the best type of milk for providing your baby with infection fighting and immunity building hormones.
In terms of cost, breast milk is absolutely cost-free. There’s also no need to buy other baby stuffs such as feeding bottles, nipples and other supplies. Since it is always believed that breastfed babies are healthier and therefore are less prone to getting sick, this means that they don’t have to go to the doctor’s clinic very often which then leads to more savings in terms of paid prescriptions, doctor consultations and over-the-counter medicines.
Some studies also reveal that exclusively breastfed children have IQs that are slightly higher than those who were fed with formula milk.
Breastfeeding is also more convenient for the mother since it is always available anytime of the day thereby eliminating the need to make last-minute buying of milk in a store. It also eliminates the need to wash bottles and nipples or warm up feeding bottles in the middle of the night.
Mothers also enjoy the skin-to-skin contact with their babies while they are breastfeeding which helps in enhancing an emotional connection between the breastfeeding mother and her infant.
Breastfeeding mothers also benefit from the experience of feeding their baby with breastmilk as it definitely boosts their confidence in their ability to care for their infant. Other benefits that a mother can gain from breastfeeding include increased ability to burn calories (good for mothers who want to regain their pre-pregnancy shape); help lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease; and help reduce the risk of certain cancers such as ovarian and uterine cancer.
Breastfed babies also have the opportunity to be introduced to different tastes because of their mother’s breast milk. A mother’s breast milk can actually acquire varying flavors depending on the mother’s food intake. Since breastfeeding mothers need 500 extra calories every day, they are encouraged to eat a huge variety of well-balanced foods which eventually leads to eating food with different tastes.
The advantages of formula milk
Formula feeding offers more convenience as compared to breast feeding. The reason is because either of the baby’s parents or anyone else can provide feeding to the baby. This can be very helpful during those times when there’s a need to do public breastfeeding.
Formula feeding also brings more flexibility to a mother’s schedule since she can leave her infant with a partner or a baby caregiver so long as the feeding bottles are made. Mothers don’t have to be worried about meeting other schedules and duties as their schedule becomes more independent of the baby’s feeding schedule. Moreover, the time that is needed for finding a private place for public breastfeeding is also saved.
Babies who feed on formula milk also tend to eat less often compared to breastfed babies. Formula milk is less digestible than breast milk which makes the baby feel fuller and less hungry.
Mothers who choose to formula feed their babies need not worry about what they eat or drink since it will no longer affect their babies.
Is it okay to do both breastfeeding and formula feeding for my baby?
Most women would already come up with a decision on whether they would opt for breastfeeding or formula feeding their baby before giving birth. Some of them even change their minds right after the baby is born or probably even several weeks or months after the baby’s birth.
Several mothers would decide to breastfeed their baby and then supplement the feeding with formula milk. The decision to do both is usually influenced by the parents’ lifestyles and how they see it as the best choice that they can make for their family.
Exclusive breastfeeding may not be applicable to all mothers as each mother will respond to breastfeeding differently. Some may have to deal with breastfeeding issues such as sore nipples, cracked skin and health related issues that may lead them to opt instead for formula feeding.
Formula feeding may offer more convenience but it is also very expensive and may cause some concern to couples who are a bit tight on their budget. Parents are also advised to mix formula milk correctly and not attempt to increase its availability by diluting it with more water than what is originally recommended.
It is believed that giving newborns some formula milk may actually help in boosting breastfeeding. Some mothers decide to breastfeed their baby during the first six months and then formula feed from six months onwards. Others actually do both breastfeeding and formula feeding alternately on their baby.
Mothers who find themselves being “pressured” on breastfeeding their baby exclusively may suffer from emotional fatigue. If the mother’s emotional well-being is at risk, it is therefore important to re-assess on the realistic aspect of exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should be a rewarding experience for both the mother and the baby and should not lead to a point when the mother would think about giving up totally on breastfeeding when the issues arise. If doing both breastfeeding and formula feeding would help the mother regain the enjoyment and commitment in taking care of her baby, then feeding her infant would always be something that she would always look forward to every day because it always gives her a sense of happiness and fulfillment.