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Advantages and disadvantages of breast milk and formula milk

baby bottle

New mothers are faced with one major question when it comes to feeding their baby; whether to go for breast milk or formula milk. This is a personal decision which has to be made by the mother well before the baby is born. Although breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can give to her child, there may be times when the mother is unable to breastfeed her child. In other cases, the mother may not be willing to breast feed her baby at all, or could be unwell to do so. In such cases, infant formula milk is a healthy alternative for her to go with. Both breast milk and formula milk have their pros and cons and this article discusses some of the major ones in detail.

Choose the right clothing

One of the most important things you will need to be able to breastfeed in public is the right clothing. If you choose a breast feeding bra or a nursing t-shirt for yourself, you should be able to easily breastfeed your baby just anywhere. Although breastfeeding bras and shirts are designed in such a way that no skin is revealed while breastfeeding the baby, you may want to use some additional cover like a sling, shawl or piece of cloth to cover the baby while she is at your breast. Using a breastfeeding poncho alongside the breastfeeding top can be of great help too.

Pros of Breastfeeding

Formulation - Nature provides all the essential nutrients, minerals, antibodies and growth hormones in breast milk to meet the baby’s growing requirements. No formula milk can provide these infection fighting and immunity building hormones.

Free of cost – The best thing about breast milk is that it is free of cost, or at least less expensive. Some mothers may need to take additional nutritional supplements during and after pregnancy.

Convenient – Breast milk is readily available all the time to meet the babys needs. You never “run out” of breast milk, as you may with formula milk or bottles. As long as you keep feeding your baby, or pumping regularly, using a breast pump like Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump, you will keep producing milk. Secondly, breast milk is much more convenient as you do not have to wash any bottles, nipples, or containers.

Mother and child bonding – Breastfeeding allows an emotional bonding to develop between the mother andthe child, which is somewhat different, but just as powerful as with formula milk.

Benefits for the mother – Breast milk is not only useful for the baby, but it provides several health benefits to the mother as well, such as reducing the risk of certain cancers, helping in weight loss as well as going back to the pre-pregnancy state quickly after giving birth.

Cons of Breastfeeding

Although breastfeeding is completely natural and safe for the baby, it has a few disadvantages which can lead breast feeding mothers to shift to formula milk. Each of these disadvantages has solutions, and we highly recommend mothers to find a solution to these problems instead of giving up breastfeeding all together.

Breastfeeding is challenging – Mothers often plan to breastfeed their baby for a year, but most of them give up in 4 to 6 months, or even earlier. This is because breastfeeding can be challenging, especially for new moms. It needs time, patience and experience to get comfortable with, as you and your baby are in the process of learning something new. Some mothers may feel awkward or want to give up breastfeeding their child if they do not see any one around them encouraging them or breastfeeding their child.

Problems associated with breastfeeding – Problems like sore nipples, gorged or leaking breasts are associated with breastfeeding which can be painful or embarrassing for the breastfeeding mother.

Inconvenience of feeding – Some working mothers may not be able to breastfeed their child if they are away from home for very long hours. Although milk can be pumped and stored in bottles to feed to the child, carrying breast milk around for long is not always possible. Similarly, some women may feel too exhausted or drained after a long days work to come home and breastfeed the child. For some mothers, breastfeeding in public can be inconvenient.

These disadvantages can put off a breastfeeding mother, causing her to shift to formula milk. However, you should be fully aware of the pros and cons associated with formula milk to be able to make the right decision for your child.

Pros of Formula Milk

Convenience in feeding – As opposed to breast milk, formula milk can be given to the baby by either parent, or by anyone else. This can be useful a lot of times, especially when feeding the child in public.

Feeding frequency – Formula milk contains synthetic nutrients which are not readily digested by the baby’s digestive tract. This is why formula is slowly digested by the baby, reducing feeding frequency during the day.

Cons of Formula Milk

FToo expensive – This is by far the biggest disadvantage of formula milk and should be considered before you decide to go for it.

Time consuming – With formula milk you have to make sure that bottles, containers and nipples are thoroughly washed. This can take a lot of time and can be the cause of delay in feeding the baby on time too, leaving her crying and hungry.

Synthetic composition – Formula milk contains synthetic nutrients and lacks antibodies, growth hormones and immunity building factors. Therefore, infants on formula milk often suffer from illnesses and infections as their body is not able to build up resistance and immunity.

The synthetic composition of formula milk also causes digestive problems for the infant, and can lead to diarrhoea or constipation along with gas.

Choosing between breastfeeding and formula milk is a personal decision made by moms according to their lifestyles. Every mother should make a solid effort to breastfeed her child, before choosing to go for formula milk.

Richard Winer (editor)

18th June 2009, 13:45
Page updated 5th Oct 2015, 13:25
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