There is no arguing that breastfeeding is wonderful. We’ve all seen pictures of an infant snuggled into his mother’s chest in the beautiful breastfeeding bond. And we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that breastmilk is the healthiest option available to our babies. However, as a woman who councils other women in breastfeeding, I have also heard, “I hate breastfeeding!” While usually spoken in a moment of real frustration, this statement shows just how hard breastfeeding can be sometimes. Breastfeeding in our modern world, with all the demands on mothers can be a real challenge. Today we will discuss the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs formula feeding, to help those mothers who are struggling, make the best decision for their situation.
Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding
- Breast milk is a dynamic, complete food that changes based on your baby’s nutritional and immune system needs. When you nurse your baby, signals from his body are sent to yours which alert your body to changes in his health or nutritional needs. Your body then manufactures milk which meets those needs.
- Breastmilk supports the gut and immune system. Breastmilk contains probiotics, prebiotics and antibodies which keep your baby’s gut and immune system functioning at an optimal level.
- Babies exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life are less likely to have allergies, and asthma. They are also have less cases of diarrhea, respiratory infections and ear infections.
- Breast milk is ready on demand. When you are nursing a baby there are no bottles to warm or formula to mix.
- Breastmilk is free.
- Breastfeeding creates a close bond with your baby and helps you be in-tune with his needs. The AAP has also found that breastfed babies are less likely to die of SIDS.
- Oxytocin, a chemical that breastfeeding mother’s bodies releases as they breastfeed, aids in your ability to bond to your baby; helps to shrink your uterus back to its normal size; and can help with postpartum bleeding.
- Breastfeeding has been shown to keep your body healthy. Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. They are also more likely to lose their pregnancy weight.
Cons of Breastfeeding
- Though I’m not really sure we can call this a con, you have to be with you baby all the time to breastfeed. Either that or pump your milk while you are away.
- Breastfeeding is a lot of work and often takes time and dedication to learn and implement. See “Teaching Your Baby to Breastfeed.”
- Breastfeeding can be painful. New mothers often experience nipple soreness and damage while they are learning how to nurse. As a baby gets older he will often experiment at the breast, resulting in bites and sudden pulling off from the latch.
- Breastfeeding mothers often have to wear breast pads.
- Breastfeeding mothers often have to nurse frequently throughout the day and night until their babies are a year or older.
- Breastfeeding mothers are often a source of comfort for their babies (also not a con) and often become a human pacifier, which can become taxing during periods of exhaustion.
- Breastfeeding can sometimes feel exhausting as your body is constantly doing an extra task to make milk.
- When you are sick, you still have to nurse your baby, you can’t just hand them to dad and go to bed all day, unless you have a supply of pumped milk.
- Breastfeeding mothers sometimes develop mastitis and other infections in clogged milk ducts and must go on antibiotics to clear up the infection.
- Breastfeeding mothers often face the ridicule of the public for feeding their babies in a public setting. We do not agree that this should be the case, but unfortunately there are a lot of very ignorant people out there.
Pros and Cons of Formula Feeding
Pros of Using Formula
- Formula allows for lots of flexibility in feeding schedules.
- Anyone can feed your baby at any time. If you have to work or just need to get out of the house, formula provides an instant food source that anyone can use.
- Formula can be used to feed your baby if you are ill, so that you can rest.
- Formula is often more filling than breastmilk and generally keeps your baby satisfied longer.
- Formula provides a way for other family members to bond to a baby through feeding.
- If you have any medical concerns and need medications, formula is a good option so that your baby is not exposed to your medication.
- Formula is convenient when you have to travel.
Cons of Using Formula
- Formula is an added expense.
- Formula can be difficult for you baby to digest. Some babies are sensitive to the ingredients in most formulas and may develop acid reflux, gas, colic, rashes and other symptoms.
- Formula does not provide antibodies which strengthen your baby’s immune system.
- Most formulas do not contain ingredients which strengthen your baby’s gut (See HiPP and Babylove for formulas that do).
- Many formulas are full of sugar, GMOs, and chemical ingredients.
- Formula must be made.
- Bottles used to formula feed must be washed and sterilized.
- You can run out of formula.
Formula closest to breastmilk
If you are in a position where you need to use formula, keep in mind that not all formulas are created equal. Many formulas have unnecessary sugars, chemicals, and artificial ingredients. Choosing an organic formula can get you a step closer to the purity of breastmilk. The organic formulas we carry on MyOrganicFormula.com are even purer than most organic formulas. They are manufactured under very strict standards and are as close to breastmilk as possible. If you are looking for a formula that will come as close to breastmilk as possible, choose HiPP, Holle, Lebenswert or Babylove.
Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, or do a little of both, we are here for you. For more information on how to breastfeed; and which formulas are the best, visit our blog.