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Breast Feed or Bottle Feed?

Breastfeed or bottle feed? These are two of the options many pregnant mothers face when trying to decide how they are going to meet the needs of their baby. There are many pros and cons to both breast feeding and bottle feeding. Let's take a look at both methods to learn more.

To breastfeed or bottle feed? That is the question many new mothers have, or mothers that have had children before but aren't sure which method they want to try with an upcoming baby based on her past experiences with either feeding option. Health care professionals are in agreement that there are many more health benefits to both the mother and the baby when it comes to breastfeeding. However, for some mothers that simply isn't an option for several different reasons. Some mothers simply want to look at both options before making any final decisions. 

Breastfeeding Pros and Cons:

  • Great balance of nutrients
  • Easily digested and absorbed for most babies
  • Changes throughout feeding cycles to accommodate nutrition needs of growing baby
  • Milk is free
  • Always the perfect temperature for baby
  • Milk is readily available
  • However, mother must be available for feeding, or will have to pump and bottle feed if not going to be available
  • A tougher solution for working moms
  • Early breastfeeding may be uncomfortable
  • Certain medications cannot be taken while breastfeeding or can cause problems with the baby or can interrupt breastfeeding cycles
  • Food mother eats must be watched to make sure and not pass anything risky onto baby
  • Cannot drink alcohol or will risk passing it on to baby
  • Will have to purchase nursing pads, nursing bras and a breast pump and some bottles if mom is not always going to be around for feeding

Bottle Feeding Pros and Cons:

  • Not as nutritious as mother's milk
  • Has to be properly mixed and prepared every time to get max nutrition
  • Takes time to wash bottles, prepare mix and heat milk to proper temperature for baby
  • Some babies might have difficulties processing all of the nutrients 
  • Formula can be expensive ranging from about $54 to $198 a month, depending on the brand of the formula
  • Will have to purchase bottles, nipples, etc.
  • A major pro is that formula is easier for working moms
  • Another major advantage to bottle feeding or formula feeding is that it makes it so anyone can feed the baby, which means more bonding time for father and baby

For some mothers, bottle feeding represents being able to still breast feed as well as pump your milk into a bottle for feedings when you are unable to nurse. Other mothers are unable to nurse because it is too painful, the baby is uncooperative or the baby has special needs or  that really can only be addressed through specialty formulas. However, there are so many doctors, pediatricians and other health care providers that really encourage breast feeding not only because the nutrients, but because the mother can pass antibodies to her baby through breastfeeding, which can protect them from sickness and infection. This is not possible through formula feeding. Breastfeeding also helps a baby's immune system build and become strong and protected. The big difference between bottle feeding and breastfeeding nutrition wise is that breast milk does not carry enough Vitamin D that a baby needs once they are around six months of age. Typically they can get this supplemented with solid foods or Vitamin D drops. However, some formulas for older babies do have that added amount of Vitamin D included with the formula mixture. 

There are many benefits to the mom when she is breastfeeding as well including helping her lose the baby weight and fight off obesity. However, mothers that breast feed need to be conscientious of consuming an extra 500 calories per day with a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, carbohydrates, etc. Some studies also show that the skin to skin contact received during breast feeding can help with the bonding between a mom and her baby, and can even make the baby develop a higher IQ. 

However, there are some personal risks that come with breastfeeding over bottle feeding including it being painful for some mothers. The timing and frequency is also difficult to time. If you have to pump in order to feed your baby while you are at work, that means you also have to pump while you are at work or risk having leaking or engorged breasts. For moms that have health conditions and need to take medications, breastfeeding might not be a viable option because the medications can be harmful to the baby through the breast milk. Boiled and sterilized water must be used when mixing formula. Bottles and the nipples must also be sterilized before they can be used because they can transmit bacteria if not washed correctly. When heating up a baby's bottle, it should never be done in the microwave because it can heat the milk unevenly and create dangerous hot spots that can injure the baby as they drink the formula. Instead, use a bottle warmer, or run the bottle under warm water. 

Ultimately, the decision to breastfeed or bottle feed is really a personal decision that the mother needs to make. There are many factors that go into making the decision between breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Each mother should do what she thinks is best for her and the baby.


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