The Right Way To Feed Your Baby: Breast vs. Formula

If you have felt the mommy shaming since even before you were a mother, you’re not alone in this super-connected world. It seems like no matter what choice you make as a person – let alone a parent – there is someone to naysay what you are doing. This is particularly true in the breastfeeding vs. formula feeding debate.

The moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she often starts learning as much as she can in order to be healthy and give her baby whatever he or she needs to grow. Just as you need to be conscientious about what you eat during your pregnancy, you need to carefully consider what you give your baby after he or she is born. This means you will have to research and decide if during those first six months of your baby’s life you will exclusively breastfeed, exclusively formula feed or supplement with a bit of both.

Many obstetric and pediatric professionals will advise strongly that a new mother try to breastfeed, so it’s important that you are ready for this advice and, at times, pressure. However, by learning all you can about all of your options, you are more likely to come to the right conclusion about the best way to feed your baby and keep yourself sane.

Breast Milk vs. Formula Milk

Breast Milk vs. Formula Milk

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is when a mother feeds a baby directly from her breasts. If you find that you are not producing milk right after delivering your baby, don’t fret; it can take up to four days for the breasts to start to feel full. If you wish to breastfeed your baby, continue trying even if your milk has not yet come in. The first part of the milk that does come out is known as colostrum, and it is the most nutritious for the baby.

Advantages

There are many excellent advantages to breastfeeding, which is why it comes so highly recommended. You have control over the nutrition your baby gets by carefully choosing what you eat. Your breast milk has antibodies to help fight off sickness caused by viruses and bacteria – even when you yourself are sick! Babies who exclusively breastfeed also tend to be at a lower risk for respiratory illness, diarrhea and ear infections.

Probably one of the greatest advantages to breastfeeding is that it doesn’t cost you a thing. You produce the milk naturally on your own, so you don’t have to worry about going to the store or having enough money to buy the milk.

Disadvantages

In spite of all the goodness that comes with breastfeeding, there are some distinct disadvantages to consider as well. First, you need to make sure you regularly feed your baby on a schedule, and if you can’t feed your baby on time for some reason, then you will need to pump in order to keep up your milk supply. Your body will only make as much milk as it’s using up. Another disadvantage is that when you breastfeed, you are the one who needs to feed the baby. It’s not as simple as giving a bottle to your spouse to feed the baby in the middle of the night; even if you pump and have a bottle on hand, you will still need to get up and pump yourself to maintain your supply. Your baby will need to be with you all the time.

The process of let-down with breast milk is uncomfortable for some women. Milk ducts can also get clogged and lead to mastitis, an infection causing inflammation and sometimes fever. When you wait too long to feed or pump, your breasts become engorged and hard, which is painful. The general fullness of the breasts can also lead to stretch marks.

What New Mothers Need To Know

When it comes down to it, breastfeeding is the healthiest option for your baby; however, things can get complicated quickly. If you wish to breastfeed, eat healthy foods and keep trying, but monitor your baby. The most important thing is that your baby gets nutrition and continues to gain weight at a healthy rate. You can talk to a lactation consultant to get tips and talk to your doctor if you have any problems or suspect an infection.

Formula Feeding

Formula feeding involves buying a formula product from a store and using it to fill bottles and feed the baby. It can come in liquid or powder form meant to be mixed with water. Formula can be fortified with vitamins and enhanced with ingredients breast milk doesn’t have.

Advantages

There are many advantages to formula feeding, the first of which is making sure your baby gets fed. Because formula is mixed into a bottle, it also gives new mothers more freedom – you can let your spouse or a friend or family member feed the baby while you take a break. Another great advantage has to do with allergies. If your baby is lactose intolerant or suffers from some other type of breast milk allergy, you can find all kinds of safe options with the many different types of formula available.

Disadvantages

While making sure your baby is fed is most important, it’s also important for mothers to understand that when it comes to nutritional value, formula will always fall short to some degree. It has the essential nutrients necessary to keep your baby growing healthily, but it’s not the same as breast milk. Probably the greatest disadvantage to formula feeding has to do with the cost. An economy pack of formula can cost just as much as a pack of diapers and more.

Another disadvantage to formula feeding has to do with the bottle. Some babies have difficulty drinking from a bottle, which could present a problem if you exclusively formula feed. You can talk to your pediatrician about options to make sure your baby gets enough to eat.

What New Mothers Need To Know

There are many different types of formula for different prices. Some babies tolerate certain brands better than others. You should have access to plenty of free samples if you sign up for coupons, and many hospitals send new mothers home with a small diaper bag that includes a formula sample. You will need to try out different types to determine which is best for your baby.

You should also know that formula feeding can change the appearance of the baby’s poop. This is because it alters the digestive enzymes of the gastrointestinal tract from the very first contact.

The Answer

So, which is the right way to feed your baby? The short answer is this: Fed is best. Your baby needs nutrition, and whether that comes from breast milk or formula doesn’t really matter as long as your baby is getting what he or she needs. If you want to get to the nitty-gritty, breastfeeding is the ideal option, but this isn’t always feasible for every new mom.

Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking you’re a horrible parent for choosing one method over the other or for combining the two. Carefully do your research and consult with your OB/GYN and your pediatrician to determine the best needs for your baby. Every mother, situation and baby is different. You might even find breastfeeding best for your first child but your second benefits from formula feeding. The best choice is ultimately whatever way leads to a healthy and happy baby. For more information on formula feeding and breastfeeding, be sure to check out KAMO on Facebook, follow on Twitter @kamo_family and follow on Instagram with kamofamily.

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