Choosing to nurse or formula feed your child may seem like an easy choice. Many parents will simply formula feed their children without considering both options. It is not because they do not love their children, but for the simple fact nursing has been fading. It is very simple to make a formula bottle and anyone can help feed the baby. Nursing is more involved and definitely has many benefits for both the mother and child. This chapter explores both options in debt to assist you to make the best decision for both you and the baby.
Nursing Benefits for Baby
- Provides the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat
Easy to digest
- Baby does not take in much air from the breast as he or she would from a bottle
- Antibodies in the breast milk help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria
Develops bond between mother and child (helps child feel secure)
- Physical Closeness
- Skin-to-Skin touching
- Eye contact
Many doctors, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that a baby is exclusively nursed for the first six months of life
- Doctors say babies who are breastfed for at least the first six months of life have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea
- Reduces risk of having allergies or asthma
- Some studies indicate that later in life children who were breastfed have higher IQ scores
- Assists infants to gain the appropriate amount of weight and reduces overweight risk
- Helps prevent against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death)
- May lower the risk of development of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers
- Flavors their milk with what the mother ate
Nursing Benefits for Mother
- Every time you nurse, you are naturally burning calories
- Nursing releases a hormone that helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size
- May reduce uterine bleeding after birth
- Lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancers
- May also lower your risk of obstreperous
Saves time and money
- No need to wash/sterilize nipples and bottles
- No need to buy formula, measure it out, and test the temperature
- On average nursing saves $1,400 per year in formula costs
- Temperature is perfectly fit for your little one (unless you have just had a hot shower…in that case wait 15 minutes before nursing)
- Provides quiet/restful time for you and your baby
- Helps grow emotional bond between mother and baby
- Easy night feedings…no need to go to the kitchen to make a bottle. Just pick-up your baby, nurse, and the two of you can return to sleep (hopefully the baby will go back to sleep)
- Meals on “wheels”: no need to pack bottles/nipples. No need to worry about if the bottle falls on the floor and needs washed. No need to fuss over if you brought enough water and powder to make the bottle. If the baby gets hungry, simply find a discreet place to nurse (not a bathroom) and feed your baby.
- Poopy diapers will not stink (at least until your child starts on solids).
Although there are many advantages for both the mother and child to consider, there are some disadvantages to consider. Please note none of these are disadvantages for your baby.
Time consuming (please note that every child can vary)
- Nursing sessions for the first three months tend to take 20- 40 minutes each session 10 to 12 times per day (some feedings will take less time than others which is normal).
- Nursing sessions for three to six months tend to take 15-30 minutes
- Nursing sessions for six to nine months tend to take 10-20 Minutes
- Nursing sessions for nine to twelve months tend to take 5-10 minutes
- If you work, you need to plan time for pumping
- Some people lack family/grandparent/spouse support (addressed later in this novel)
- At first as your milk starts to set in, you may experience some leakage. Breast pads can be used to collect any leakage (estimated stop anywhere between 3 and 6 months).
- Fullness and tenderness can set in if you do not nurse frequently enough…body’s natural way of telling you it is time to feed your baby.
- May be embarrassing when your child poops, as they can be loud (the loudness of your child’s poop will go away over time).
- Milk can dry up if you do not nurse enough
With many advantages and only a few disadvantages to nursing, why do most people choose formula?
Most common reasons Formula Feeding
- Mother does not always have to feed the baby
- WIC provided and will cover cost of formula
- Worry about producing enough milk to satisfy the baby
Worry that breastfeeding will hurt
- Fear of baby’s teeth when they come in
Can’t breastfeed or don’t want to
- Drugs/Alcohol (discussed later in this novel)
- Cigarette Smoking (although it is not recommended to smoke if you are nursing, it is still better in most cases for your baby. Confirm with your doctor)
- Cannot make enough time to be with the baby (travel for job, working 10 to 12 hours per day, etc).
- Rare case, cannot produce breast milk
- Belief that mother will have to eat a certain way if she breast feeds
Can share feeding with others
- Fathers can get more involved
- Lack of knowledge about breastfeeding
- Fear of breastfeeding in public and not being able to find a place to discretely feed your child
For many of these reasons women shun away from nursing without truly considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the disadvantages of formula feeding. Probably the most common reason for not breast feeding is the lack of knowledge, understanding all of the options.
Disadvantages of Formula Feeding
- Formula has only been out for about 150 years, the long-term results are still being studied
- Infection from contaminated formula
- Does not naturally provide perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat, although vitamin D levels are higher.
Does not contain Antibodies like breast milk does to help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria
- Baby may get sick more often than a breast fed infant
- Many doctors, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that a baby is exclusively nursed for the first six months of life
Babies who are formula fed do not get the reduced risk for the following conditions:
- Respiratory Diseases
- SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Childhood Cancers
- Urinary Infections
- Many more
- Same taste of formula, every day, all day long
- Obesity Risk
Money and Time Factor
- Need to regularly wash/sterilize nipples and bottles
- Need buy formula, measure it out, and test the temperature
- If no WIC program available, will spend on average $1,400 per year in formula costs
When on the go, have more to pack
- Bottle Warmer
- Poopy diapers will stink from day 1, unlike breast feeding babies whose poppies do not stink until solids are introduced
Choosing to nurse or formula feed is simply up to the child’s parents. Either choice the woman makes should be fully supported. Some women will receive grief for their choice to nurse or bottle feed from a spouse, grandparent, aunt, etc. In the case of receiving grief for your choice, take a deep breath and stand your ground. Do not let others influence your decision on whether to formula feed or nurse your child.