Infant Feeding: Breast or Bottle?
Your due date is fast approaching. Have you decided which feeding method would be the best for you and your baby? Read on to compare the two…
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
- Proper nourishment—Breast milk contains all the nourishment that babies need during their first several months of life. One possible exception is ]]>vitamin D]]> . Breast milk is low in vitamin D. However, a baby's need for this supplement depends on skin tone and exposure to sunlight. Ask the doctor about your baby's needs.
- Immunity boost—Breast milk contains substances not found in formula that help protect babies from illness. These substances include antibodies, immunoglobulins, active enzymes, and hormones.
- Fewer illnesses—Compared with bottlefed infants, breastfed infants are less likely to develop:
- Possible protection against certain conditions—Breastfed infants may have protection against ]]>sudden infant death syndrome]]> , ]]>type 1 diabetes]]> , ]]>inflammatory bowel disease]]> , allergies, and leukemia.
- Boost to brain development—The nutrients found in breastmilk enhance how your baby's brain develops. Breastfeeding may even have a positive impact on your child's IQ and school performance.
- Easy digestion—Breast milk is easy for babies to digest.
- Bonding—The skin-to-skin contact involved in breastfeeding can enhance bonding between mother and baby.
- Jaw development—Sucking at the breast promotes good jaw development. It is harder to get milk from the breast than from a bottle.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mom
Women who breastfeed their babies experience the following health benefits:
- Less postpartum bleeding
- More rapid shrinkage of the uterus to pre-pregnancy size
- Quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight—Milk production burns calories.
- Possible reduced risk of:
Both parents will likely appreciate the convenience of breastfeeding, including:
- Breast milk is always available, sterile, and free.
- There is no formula to buy, measure, and mix.
- There are no bottles and nipples to sterilize.
Drawbacks of Breastfeeding
- Stress for mom—You are the sole provider of nutrition for your baby, which can be very demanding and exhausting. However, once a pattern is established, other family members can give you a break by feeding the baby a bottle of breast milk that has been pumped and stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Slow start—You may have difficulty getting the baby to properly latch onto the breast.
- Possible pain—Breastfeeding can be painful. You may have sore nipples, clogged milk ducts, and ]]>mastitis]]> (breast pain).
- Medicine precautions—Some medicines can pass through the breast milk to your baby and may not be safe. Drugs can also interfere with how much milk you produce. Talk to you doctor before taking prescription and over-the-counter medicine, as well as herbs and supplements.
If you are unsure as to whether you want to breastfeed, you can try it for a few weeks and switch if it does not work out. Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby. Once bottlefeeding is started, though, it is difficult to switch back to the breast.
The Benefits of Bottlefeeding
- Proper nutrition—Commercially prepared formulas (which are regulated by the FDA) supply the appropriate combinations of proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins to meet a baby's nutritional requirements; supplements are not usually necessary.
- Bonding—Although there is no skin-to-skin contact, cuddling while feeding can enhance bonding.
- Less dependence on you—Anyone can feed the baby. This makes it easier if you work or if you cannot or do not want to be the sole provider of the milk.
The Drawbacks of Bottlefeeding
- The possibility of allergy—Cow's milk formulas contain a different type of protein than breast milk, and some infants may be allergic to it or have trouble digesting it. These babies can be given soy milk formula, although some may be allergic to soy protein, too, and would require a hydrolyzed formula.
- A lot of preparation—Bottlefeeding requires a lot of organization and preparation; you will need to have enough formula on hand and have bottles and nipples clean and ready.
- A significant expense—According to the American Medical Association, during the first year of life, the cost of formula can run between $1,000 and $1,500.
- Freshness not guaranteed—Formula can go bad, so you will need to check expiration dates and avoid damaged containers.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
National Women's Health Information Center
Womens Health Matters
Breastfeeding and brain development (cognitive development). Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India website. Available at: http://www.bpni.org/information_sheets/IS-9.pdf . Published February 2005. Accessed February 11, 2010.
Breastfeeding and early childhood development. San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition website. Available at: http://www.breastfeeding.org/articles/child.html . Accessed February 11, 2010.
Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Breastfeeding. Pediatrics. 1997;100:1035-1039.
Medicine while breastfeeding. Love Your Baby website. Available at: http://www.loveyourbaby.com/medicine-while-breastfeeding.html . Accessed December 14, 2009.
Last reviewed January 2009 by ]]>Kari Kassir, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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