There are many reasons to breastfeed your baby, and there are almost as many reasons to bottle-feed due to either lifestyle preference or need. We have compiled a quick list of the advantages on each way of feeding your baby.
There are ways in which formula is similar to breast milk. Formula is designed to nutritionally emulate breast milk, providing the essential nutrients baby needs. They both also provide energy in the form of calories and keep your baby hydrated.
Breastfeeding Benefits for the Mother?
- Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose the weight gained in pregnancy, faster.
- It releases oxytocin, the happy hormone which elevates your mood and is there to help with the bonding-with-your-newborn process.
- It helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size.
- Midwives and Ob-Gyns will advise you that is can help reduce uterine bleeding after birth.
- Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Women who have breastfed for at least six months show lower rates of uterine cancer in later years.
- It’s quicker and easier - no hassles with sterilizing bottles, spoons, nipples, warmers, and everything involved in a feed each time your baby has to “eat”.
- A mother get to focus on her baby and increase bonding time with her/him.
- It creates a routine for you and your baby which helps you both feel more secure with your “new life”.
- It has a contraceptive effect - the chance of becoming pregnant is reduced in the first six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding mothers may have higher bone density and lower rates of osteoporosis later in life.
The Breastfeeding Benefits for Your Baby
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and essential fats that your baby needs to grow.
- Colostrum—the first milk produced at birth—contains high amounts of carbohydrates, protein and antibodies, and it has yet to be replicated as formula.
- Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs and more (like stem cells and essential fatty-acids)
- Breast milk also helps share your immune cells with your baby improving their resistance to infection.
- It may raise your child's intelligence. Studies show breastfed babies have higher levels of cognitive function.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of illness due to contaminated water, which under some conditions can occur with formula.
- Breast milk is a source for essential fatty acids that help a baby’s brain to grow.
- Breast milk helps populate healthy bacteria in the baby’s gut.
- Breastfed babies generally have fewer cases of ear infections, gastrointestinal discomforts, bacterial meningitis, urinary tract infections and other common infant diseases.
- Breastfeeding encourages skin-to-skin contact which nurtures and comforts your baby.
- Breast milk works as an antibiotic against E. coli and staphylococcus.
What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding, generally?
Breast milk, like all mammal milks, is perfectly evolved in a form more easily digestible than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula substitution, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea. They, therefore, have fewer trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. But those studies have been reconsidered to include other socio-economic factors that change the context of the data, and make them carry less weight.
The benefits of skin-to-skin touch and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow, rather than adding on too much weight.
Benefits of Formula
There are numerous lifestyle and convenience issues involved in the decision to feed your baby formula rather than breastfeed. There is quite a lot of bottle-shaming going on in the media, along with the breastfeeding in public backlash that crops up regularly.
While it is not necessarily a choice for some mothers, assuming it is a decision is unfair to mothers who cannot produce enough milk, or are worried that their babies are being under-fed. Whatever the reason, it should be a guilt-free choice.
The biggest advantages of bottle feeding your baby, according to mothers and nurses, are:
- You can share feeds with the father, who can also have some bonding time with your baby.
- You know exactly how much your baby has consumed.
- You can monitor the increase in baby’s food intake - something which is difficult to measure in breastfed babies
- It’s quicker for baby to get a satisfying feed - a bottle feed can last 15 minutes while a breastfed baby will take around an hour a feed.
- No engorged painful breasts that leak
- You never have to find an acceptable place in public to breastfeed. With the backlash about breastfeeding in public, it may be hard for you to find a place to feed baby, when the demand arises.
- If your baby requires a certain formula, you don’t need to change your diet and exclude foods that may be suspected in an allergic reaction.
- It helps to regulate a routine, knowing when your baby is hungry and when she/he is fussing for other reasons.
- Feeding is usually less frequent - As a newborn, you can expect your baby to feed every 3 to 4 hours rather than every 1 to 2 hours.
- Bottle fed babies sleep through the night earlier, usually, because they stay fuller for longer
- You can eat or drink whatever you want. You will never have to worry about how 'what had for lunch or dinner, what you drank 'affects your baby.
- You have more freedom as a mother. You can have a social life, a sex life, and "me-time" as your baby’s feeding will happen at regular times and you can plan around it.
There have been more studies done recently like this one, reported in The Inquirer, where it states that no significant differences have been found in the health and well-being of babies who were breastfed and those that were bottle-fed.