Expectant parents have to make the most important decision of their lives: whether to breastfeed or put their baby on formula milk.
Experts believe that breast milk is the best choice for infant nutrition. Breastfeeding may not be possible for everyone. Many women decide to breastfeed or to formula feed based on their lifestyle and personal circumstances.
Infant formula is an option for moms who are unable to breastfeed or decide not to. The formula gives such babies the nutrients they need for growth and development.
Mothers worry that their babies won’t bond if they stop breastfeeding as they think breastfeeding mothers always have a special bond with their children, but that is not the truth. It is important to bond with your children by feeding them, no matter what and how you feed them.
It is up to you to decide whether or not to breastfeed your baby. You can weigh the pros and cons of each option to help you choose what is best for your baby.
Breastfeeding—what you need to know—
Both mother and baby can have a wonderful time nursing. Many mothers treasure this special bonding experience as it provides the mother with an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with their child.
Many health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are of the opinion that breastfeeding is the best option for babies. Breastfeeding protects against infections and prevents allergies. It also helps to prevent a variety of chronic conditions.
Some experts say that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. If both mother and baby agree, it can be extended.
Some amazing advantages of breastfeeding—
- Breastfed babies are less likely to be hospitalized and have fewer infections than those who are formula-fed.
- Breastfeeding can help strengthen the immune system by passing antibodies and other germ-fighting elements from mother to baby. This reduces the chances that a baby will get infections such as meningitis, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections.
- Breastfeeding may also protect babies from obesity, diabetes, asthma, and allergies.
- Premature babies are especially benefited by breastfeeding.
- Breast milk is easy to digest and provides complete nutrition. It is often referred to as the “perfect food” because it contains all of the components necessary for human babies’ digestive systems, including fat, protein, and lactose.
- Breastfed infants are less likely to have difficulty digesting than formula-fed infants. That is why breastfed babies experience fewer episodes of constipation or diarrhoea.
- Many vitamins and minerals are also found in breast milk. Meaning, it is a natural source of many nutrients that new-borns need. Vitamin D is an exception – nutritionists recommend that breastfed babies receive vitamin D supplements within the first 2 months of their lives and continue to receive them until they are able to ingest enough vitamin D-fortified milk or formula (after one year).
- To ensure that formula companies provide the required nutrients (including vitamin D), the food administration of a country regulates them. However, commercially available formulas don’t always match breastmilk’s exact composition. Why? Because milk is a living substance that each mother makes for her infant. This process can’t be replicated in a factory.
- Breast milk is free. You don’t need bottles, nipples, or other expensive supplies unless you are pumping breastmilk and giving it to the baby. Breastfed babies are less likely than others to get sick. This may result in fewer visits to the doctor and less additional expenditures.
- Nursing mothers need between 300 and 500 calories more per day. This should be sourced from a variety of healthy foods. Breastfeeding babies are able to experience different tastes thanks to their mothers’ breastmilk, which can have different flavours depending on the food they have eaten. Breastfed infants will be more open to eating solid foods if they can taste the food of their culture.
- Breast milk is always fresh, available wherever you are. Breastfeeding mothers don’t have to wash the bottles or heat up water, nor do they need to change nipples.
- Research suggests that babies who are exclusively breastfed may have slightly higher intelligence than those who are formula-fed.
- Nursing mothers love the feeling of being close to their babies. Mother and baby can bond even more when they have skin-to-skin contact.
- It is also beneficial for the mom. A new mom can feel more confident caring for her baby if she is able to fully nourish her baby. Breastfeeding can also help shrink the uterus and burn calories, meaning that nursing mothers may be able to return to pre-pregnancy weight and shape faster. Studies have shown that breastfeeding can lower your risk of developing breast cancer, high blood sugar, diabetes, and other diseases. It may also help to reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.
What are the challenges in breastfeeding?
Some mothers breastfeed immediately, while others take some time to adjust. Breastfeeding takes patience on both the part of moms and babies.
Many moms are uncomfortable breastfeeding at first. Most moms can overcome this with the right education, support, and practice.
If you want to breastfeed your baby, just go ahead and do it—it will be a rewarding experience for you. However, before breastfeeding, it’s advisable that you get a breast milk nutrition test done to check the quality of your milk.