Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Breast Feeding vs. Infant Formula

by heather

  Whether you choose to breast-feed your infant or not, is a very personal decision. When I first started working on a Postpartum unit the lactation specialist gave me a list of 101 reasons why women should breast-feed. Most of them were completely ridiculous and several of them were listed two or three times. You have to choose what will work for you, your baby and your situation. I don’t believe that you should let anyone try to convince you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with or won’t work for you and your infant. I’m not writing this post with the intent to make anyone feel guilty about their decision, but to go over some the facts about each side of the issue.

 The Case for Breast Feeding

  • Breast milk is perfectly designed for your infant at each stage of his/her development.
  • Breast milk is much cheaper than the alternative. (I won’t say that it’s free, because it requires way to much work to qualify as such.)
  • Breast feeding helps the mother’s body to heal. It makes her uterus reach its pre-pregnancy condition more quickly.
  • Breast feeding decreases a woman’s risk of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. I mention this one because I’ve heard it numerous times and I feel that this fact is very misleading. Research shows that if a woman breast-feeds for 14 years of her life, it decreases her risk of cancer by 20%. So if iI have 7 kids and breast-feed them for 2 years each I will decrease my risk of cancer of my reproductive organs by 20%?! That doesn’t seem like really good motivation for me.
  • Breast feeding burns calories! During pregnancy our bodies are designed to store fat, so that we can feed a baby. What better way to get rid of those extra pounds?
  • Breast feeding promotes bonding between mother and infant.
  • Breast feeding provides infants with immunity against illnesses. It provides immunity against diseases that the infant is too young to be safely vaccinated for and for other diseases that the mother has immunity against where there are no vaccines available.
  • Breast-feeding is environmentally friendly. Little or no packaging or containers required.
  • Breast-feeding decreases a child’s risk for allergies and auto-immune diseases.
  • Breast-feeding makes for overall healthier children. I breast-fed Thing 1 & Thing 2 and the first time that I had to take either of them to a doctor for anything beyond a well-child check was when Thing 2 needed stitches at age 2.
  • Infant formula just does not taste or smell that good. Yes, I have tasted it. I make it a point of tasting anything I force my patients to take (within reason).
  • Breast-milk has antibiotic properties.
  • Breast-feeding means fewer bottles to wash. (Unless you work and pump. Then you have to wash your bottles and your pump parts. :S)

 The Case for Infant Formula

  • Infant formula has improved dramatically since it was first developed.
  • It is very physically demanding to breast-feed an infant.
  • It is sometimes inconvenient to breast-feed an infant. 
  • Breast-fed infants are often resistant to taking a bottle when mother is unavailable.
  • Breast-feeding is very time-consuming.
  • Society (and sometimes family and friends) are unsupportive of breast-feeding moms. They are often intolerant of breast-feeding in public, yet most establishments do not provide a clean place to breast-feed in private.
  • Some women for physical reasons can not breast-feed.
  • Some women can’t breast feed for a multitude of other reasons.
  • No one is ever offended if you bottle-feed your infant in public.
  • Some infants don’t take well to breast milk.
  • It’s easier to wean infants off of formula versus breast milk. (Or so I hear.)
  • Formula fed infants are less likely to come down with jaundice.
  • Mothers of formula-fed infants have no additional dietary restrictions.
 I think that more or less covers it. Can anyone think of any points that I left out? And you don’t have to be strictly one or the other. You can breast feed sometimes and bottle feed at others. It’s up to you. I choose to breast-feed because it makes my children healthier. There is something so adorable about watching my babies breast-feed. I love it. I love to snuggle with them every few hours and listen to their satisfied eating noises. And it saves me a lot of money. I breast-feed exclusively because I have not been able to convince any of my babies to take formula on any occasion after my milk came in. Ever. (The first day that I went back to work after having Thing 2, it took him 11&1/2 hours before he was desperate enough to even drink pumped breast milk from a bottle, let alone formula. He always was a stubborn child.) Breast-feeding Cindy Lou-Who, with all of my diet restrictions is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, I have a hard time coping without food  but I do it because I love her and I feel breast milk is best for her. But after this experience I have new empathy for mothers who throw in the towel and switch to a bottle. I feel that breast is best, but there are plenty of good reasons not to breast-feed.

    One Response to “Breast Feeding vs. Infant Formula”

    1. micrognathia says:

      breast feeding is still best for babies. It helps babies become stronger and it boosts the babies immune system.


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