One of the biggest decisions that new mothers will need to make in caring for their newborn is the decision between nursing their their baby or giving them formula.
This debate has been going on for decades, and it is still a lively issue among everyone from mothers and fathers themselves to doctors, nurses and society at large. It seems that everyone has an opinion on the matter.
Below, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each type of baby feeding method and unpack some of the feelings and emotions that seem to be ingrained in this hot debate.
Breastfeeding or Formula: The Old Debate
There’s no question that breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can offer her child. In fact, many refer to it as nature’s perfect food. But then again, it’s not always easy for mothers to breast-feed, and there are a myriad of legitimate reasons why this might be the case. For these mothers who find it difficult to breast-feed, formula is the next best option.
You might think that people in general would respect either side of this debate. After all, it’s a personal issue whether or not you choose to breast-feed your child. But this isn’t the case.
Not only are formula mothers criticized for using formula and not offering their child with all-natural breast-milk, but breast-feeding mothers can also be criticized for breast-feeding in public. If you know anything about new babies, they need to be fed regularly throughout the day, so of course, breast-feeding in public is not a choice. It’s a necessity.
And so it seems that each camp has its criticisms. The only good news about this is that no matter what you choose to do, you can know that there are a large number of fellow moms and dads in your corner.
But let’s look at each type of feeding in turn to see the pros and cons. This may help you make a final decision with your own baby.
It is well-established that the best way to feed newborn babies is by breast-feeding. Breast milk is wonderful for your baby in numerous ways, and there are direct benefits for moms as well.
- First, breast milk contains natural antibodies that help your baby resist illnesses. In fact, professionals say that incidences of viruses and colds, pneumonia and other health problems go down significantly when babies are breast-fed. Other infections such as diarrhea are also much less common when babies are breast-fed.
- Second, even long-term diseases may be kept at bay through the act of breast-feeding. Studies show that serious and chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease, type I diabetes and celiac disease are much less likely when individuals were breast-fed as babies.
- Third, breast milk is generally more easily to digest for children than formula is. This means that breastfed babies will be less gassy and will have less problems with constipation.
- Some studies have shown that breast-feeding can lower a child’s risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.
- For mothers, breast-feeding will burn huge amounts of calories each day and help you lose that baby weight in no time.
- Finally, breast-feeding is significantly cheaper than using formula. Baby formula can cost hundreds of dollars each month, and breast-feeding is virtually free.
As you can see, the benefits of breast-feeding go above and beyond. But are there any drawbacks? Unfortunately, some negatives of breast-feeding may deter moms from being overly enthusiastic about this feeding method.
- First, the act of breast-feeding can be uncomfortable and even painful. Often, it’s a difficult practice to get started. And after the the stress of childbirth, this can be extra difficult. Fortunately, if you’re having trouble breast-feeding your baby, there are a few techniques that you can employ to get better and make breast-feeding a success.
- Also, breast-feeding can be stressful because you will often be in a situation where it’s not easy to feed your child. This may be while you’re shopping, at someone else’s home or at work.
Formula feeding is seen as the second best way to feed children. Doctors and health professionals agree that it doesn’t offer the amazing natural nutrition that breast-feeding does.
- First, it’s more convenient for many mothers. Babies require feeding every few hours, which can be difficult for mothers who are also trying to juggle work and other responsibilities. Naturally, you can battle your breastmilk, but purchasing formula is even easier.
- Second, because the mother does not have to be present for her feedings with formula feeding, anyone can do it. This means that the responsibilities for feeding can be shared between the mother and father.
- Finally, formula is packed with nutrition for your growing baby. It is a specially designed combination of essential nutrients that your baby needs, and studies show that it can definitely help your child remain healthy and grow big and strong.
Here are the drawbacks of using formula to feed your baby.
- Unfortunately, even though formula is essentially a wonderful way to provide nutrition for your child, it is not quite as nutritious as breast milk.
- Formula may also be recalled buy formula manufactures. Of course, breast milk is never recalled.
- Breast milk is also made up of specific immunological nutrients that will help your unique child because it is made in that child’s mother. In other words, breast milk is unique to the baby, and formula is generic.
- Finally, breast-feeding is an extremely intimate experience that helps to strengthen the bond between mother and child, and both mother and child are missing out on this bond when formula is used instead of breast milk.
Dealing With the Guilt of Not Breast-Feeding
As we’ve stated, the optimal way to feed your child with the best possible nutrition is to breast-feed them. But again, this is not always a simple and straightforward part of being a mother, and we need to be sympathetic with moms who have a hard time breast-feeding.
For these mothers, if you have tried every way to get your child to breast-feed but nothing seems to work, formula is the next best thing. And trust me, moms, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s not even close. You’re not a bad mother if you use formula.
With that being said, however, you have to be ready for the criticisms and the “mommy guilt.” Sadly, other moms and random people who think that their opinion should matter above everyone else’s will tell you that using formula is bad.
There are many articles online that can help you deal with this guilt, and talking with other mothers who have been through this same experience will help.
The most important thing is that you consider the pros and cons of each method of feeding and do your best to make a good decision for yourself and your child.
Again, it’s important to remember that if you can breast feed your child, you’ll be offering them the best possible nutrition for staying healthy and growing big and strong. But that doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible mother if you decide to use formula with your child either.
Try your best to make breast-feeding work, and if it doesn’t, use formula with confidence. There should be no guilt involved.
In the end, if you do decide that breast-feeding will work for you, check out our new breast pump guide where you can read about the best breast pumps that moms are using.