Sooooo, here you are awaiting the birth of your baby…..
It’s a wonderful time dreaming of a rosy cheeked cherub gurgling in your arms, always happy. You go to classes, start thinking ahead about the birth.
Then you think about feeding. You consider both methods, breastfeeding and bottle feeding. They both have pros and cons but which is best. Let’s explore the various ideas in the breastfeeding vs bottle feeding debate.
It does seem that the emphasis is on breastfeeding, especially here in the UK, not sure about elsewhere. Those in the medical profession have to follow government guidelines to encourage new mums to breastfeed.
- Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula–fed infants. During breastfeeding, antibodies and other germ-fighting factors pass from a mother to her baby and strengthen the immune system. This helps lower a baby’s chances of getting many infections, including: ear infections.
- Eat well. A good diet is particularly important when breastfeeding
- Take care of your emotional and mental health
- Get enough rest
- Be breast aware
- Look after your back
My thoughts on breastfeeding
I do NOT have medical qualifications. I worked in a pharmacy for over 20 years and we did a lot of courses on a variety of subjects but not enough to be expert in any. Besides which most of that would be considered out of date now.
What I go on is what I have learnt as a parent to two and grandparent to 7 children ranging in age from 23 to 5 months.
A very convenient upside is you always have a feed with you wherever you go.
The downside is avoiding foods that could upset the baby and of course not drinking alcohol because obviously what you eat and drink will go through to the baby. Needing breast pads to stop leaking onto your clothing.
Another downside is not knowing exactly how much milk they have had. Though many do express their milk now for convenience and so both parents can enjoy the feeding process.
Privacy to feed can sometimes be an issue, depending upon where you are.
The Science Stuff
Breast milk and breastfeeding is a very good option because it offers protection for a baby’s immune system.
The immunoglobulins that get transferred from the mother to the baby stay with the baby for the rest of their life.
The gut is colonized initially and the baby is much less likely to get diarrhea infections, to get ear infections and apparently much less likely to have asthma. It protects against a lot of common childhood illnesses too.
Plus, it’s always the right temperature and there aren’t any bottles to clean and sterilise or feed to mix.
Other uses for breast milk
Apparently, you can use breast milk for all manner of things. Who knew?
More recently a family member, who is a new mum, asked her midwife what to do about an eye infection and was told to bathe it then squirt a little breast milk into the eye. Amazingly the eye was better by the following morning.
This website has some great uses listed.
- for eye infections in babies as above.
- Making small ice lollies from breast milk for teething. Use small moulds or ice cube trays and use a dummy/pacifier in it rather than a stick. What a genius idea.
- Using breast milk rather than saline to clear stuffy noses.
- Nappy rash
- Sore nipples
- Sunburn and so much more.
Apparently, it is also considered excellent to help clear acne and women are paying to have breast milk facials in some salons.
Good & Bad
- As unbelievable as it sounds, back in the early Nineties, Svanborg and her postgraduate student Anders Håkansson accidentally discovered that a protein found in breast milk can kill cancer cells.
Cocktail of chemicals
- The Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) raised particular concerns about flame-retardant chemicals used on home furnishings, with UK mothers having some of the world’s highest concentrations of the substances in their breast milk.
My thoughts on bottle feeding
But having said that not all mothers feel breastfeeding is right for them.
Some do not want to at all. Some are unsure. This is a personal choice to be made by the mother without any pressure by family, friends or professionals.
Some cannot feed for one reason or another. A very common reason is inverted nipples. So obviously the bottle is the best way to go in that case. by the mother
Whatever the reason, this is your baby and your body which makes it your choice all the way. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I have heard mothers say people offer derogatory remarks if they bottle feed, which is wrong. No one has the right be abusive or bullying due to your choice of feeding.
The pluses of course are that you always know exactly how much milk your baby has had. It gives mum a break and Dad an opportunity to take a turn and bond more with feeding. It also means others can also take a turn at feeding, lovely for grandparents, wider family and friends who want to take a turn.
There are a wide variety of milks available, all carefully and scientifically formulated to be as close to breast milk as possible as far as vitamins and nutrients etc go.
Best of both.
Of course, you don’t have to exclusively breastfeed. Some mother’s breastfeed during the day and they give formula milk at night.
There is also the choice of using a breast pump if you want your baby to have breast milk but don’t want to feed directly.
The thing is, whatever makes mum happy will lead to a happier baby. So you make the choice that is best for you, the choice you feel most comfortable with.
With a first baby especially, you can sometimes feel pushed in one direction or another. But ultimately it is your choice.
Whatever is right for you is what you have to do for your baby, because he or she will not thrive as well, if mum is not happy. If you as the mum aren’t happy, it will also affect the rest of the family too.
Pros are: Knowing exactly how much baby has had. For a hungrier baby, there are specially formulated milks to keep them satisfied. Bottle fed babies often put on weight a bit faster. You can whip out a bottle literally anywhere and feed baby.
All in all, there is no real best. Yes, I know that basically, breast milk is better initially if you can or want to breastfeed, but babies thrive just as well on bottled milk.
There are pros and cons for each choice. It’s better to look at the options and decide what’s best for YOU! Whatever you are most comfortable with is best for your baby as you will be more relaxed and happy.
A happy Mum makes a happier and more contented baby.
If you enjoyed this post, please share.
Comments and questions welcome.