Breastfeeding VS. Formula Feeding


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A common question among new parents is to feed their newborn baby through breast feed or formula. From an economic standpoint breast feeding is cheaper and healthier for the baby but in some cases mothers cant breast feed so they must rely on store bought formula to feed their infant. After seeing my newborn nephew over Christmas break and watching two parents fight over whether breast feeding or formula was better I thought there has to be some science behind which one is better for the baby and the parents.

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To begin with, my nephew is formula fed and it is very apparent he is. He burps up a lot more, his diapers smell atrocious, and his tongue always seems to be white. But why isn't he breast fed? My sister in law tried breast feeding when my nephew was first born and discovered that breast feeding was very time consuming, and cause her to become very sick. Most mothers who use formula do so because breast feeding can make them very sick. In this article about Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding it explains a lot of the positives and negatives of both types of feeding.

According to kidshealth.org Breast feeding is the best nutritional choice for newborns whose mothers can handle it because it is naturally the way mammals feed their young essential nutrients. Breastfeeding infants allows for the mother to pass on her antibodies which help lower the occurrence of conditions such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and meningitis. Also, with premature baby's breastfeeding can be beneficial in protecting infants from allergies, asthmas, diabetes, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome. Breast milk's components   consist of lactose, protein, and fat. The milk produced by mothers is easily digested for infants because of the components which make up the milk. Another aspect of breast milk that comes naturally is vitamin D which is critical in a newborns diet. Breastfeeding is also the more time consuming of the two types of feeding because of the schedule of feeding almost every four hours can take up a lot of a mother's time.

Kidshealth.org also states formula is the next best alternative to breast feeding when mothers are unable or don't wish to breastfeed their newborn child. According to Gerber, one of the leading producers of baby formula, the main ingredients in formula consist of Whey Protein, vegetable oils, lactose, calcium, and other essential nutrients including vitamin D. Although baby formula tries to mimic breast milk as much as possible some parts of breast milk just can't be recreated such as the antibodies. The lack of antibodies means that babies lack the extra defense breast fed babies have to fight against sickness and infections. Formula fed babies also tend to have constipation more often and gas. Formula can also cost up to $1,500 a year making it very costly compared to breast milk which is free. Formula feeding also allows a chance for both parents to feed their child instead of just their mother allowing for that strong bond between a mother and her baby to be shared with the father as well.

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There are also alternatives other alternatives when it comes to feeding an infant. Some parents chose to both breast feed and use formula which can be tricky in some cases as the mother has to disguise the formula milk as if it were coming from the mother herself. Another alternative is a breast milk pump in which mothers can pump breast milk for the future if a mother were to return to work or leave the baby at any time during its first year of feeding. An additional option for parents who adopt babies or can't breastfeed and still wish to are Donor Banks in which babies can drink donated breast milk from mothers who pump their own milk.

In the end it all comes down to personal choice and lifestyle. Breastfeed requires dieting for mothers where formula feeding costs a lot. Each side has their ups and downs. A lot of factors go into making that decision.  I personally think breastfeeding is the best option as do most other people because it is what is best for the child in growing up health and strong. Another aspect I think is great is that its free and natural for women to breast feed their children which should be instinct for most parents who want a healthy baby.

 

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A little off topic, but breastfeeding can also be beneficial for the mother.
For example, exclusively breastfeeding a baby can help prevent pregnancy. It becomes a form of birth control by naturally changing a woman's hormones- her body does not make a hormone necessary for ovulation, and pregnancy can't happen if an egg is not released. However, the woman must ensure she doesn't substitute other foods for a breast milk meal, feed her baby at least every four hours, and has not had her period since delivery. Less than 1 out of every 100 women who practice breastfeeding perfectly will become pregnant.
Also, it helps new mommy's lose some of that baby weight! According to WebMD "A new study examines the relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum weight retention. The study, which looked at data for more than 25,000 women participating in the Danish National Birth Cohort, measured how long women breastfed and also how intensely. Each woman received a breastfeeding score. Results showed that women with higher breastfeeding scores were more likely to lose their pregnancy weight six months after giving birth."
Sources:
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/breastfeeding-4219.htm
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20081208/breastfeeding-helps-moms-lose-weight

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