Feeding your baby – Breast vs Formula

Advantages of Breastfeeding

Breastmilk contains antibodies which boosts babies immune system
Mum can lose weight – up to 500 extra calories a day are burnt while breastfeeding
↑ Reduction in the risk of mum contracting early breast or ovarian cancer and fracturing her hips
Breastfed babies are at lower risk of conditions such as eczema, asthma and diabetes
↑ It’s free
↑ Supply meets demand (the experts say you never run out of milk)
↑ No washing up or sterilising required
↑ No equipment needed (bottles, teats, formula)
↑ Baby is more alert and sleeps less than on formula
↑ Promotes bonding – plenty of cuddle time between mum and baby
↑ Recent research says breastfed babies are less likely to be clingy and anxious as children *
↑ Support for breastfeeding – the NHS provide classes, midwives and health visitors
↑ You can breastfeed in public –by law ** and when you leave the house you don’t have to pack milk and bottles
↑ Breast milk lasts for longer than formula – after expressing it can be used after being kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours, 5 days in a fridge or 6 months in a freezer
↑ Babies can’t overfeed on breast milk – they stop eating when they are full – and are less likely to become obese when older
↑ Breast fed babies are far less likely to suffer from colic (gulping too much air when feeding, pain with passing wind)
↑ Breastfeeding acts as a natural contraception
↑ You can express milk, which combines the benefits of bottle feeding with the advantages of breast milk
Disadvantages of Breastfeeding
↓ Baby may not latch on (attach to breast and suck properly) which causes distress to both mum and baby
↓ Anxiety – you can’t tell how much milk your baby is getting from a feed
↓ Nipple pain – If there are problems with latching or frequency this can make nipples sore, even cracked and bleeding – nipple cream helps.
↓ Breasts may overfill with milk – become engorged – making them uncomfortable and sore
↓ Blocked milk ducts might lead to mastitis
↓ Finding the right position to breastfeed can be difficult, time consuming and frustrating – a support pillow may be needed
↓ Breast milk doesn’t fill baby as speedily as formula – which means they feed more often and for longer
↓ Breasts can leak milk during the day – pads for bras are needed
↓ Indirect costs - nursing bras, nursing tops, nipple cream, breast pump, nursing apron, pillow and breast pads may be needed
↓ Expressing milk has disadvantages – finding the right pump for you may take time or be costly – pumping milk is time consuming, may be uncomfortable or sore and the amounts produced may be small
↓ Only mum can feed baby (unless you have expressed) which means mum doesn’t get much sleep as young babies have 8 to 10 feeds in a 24 hour period
↓ Mum is a captive host while baby feeds (which can take from 20 mins to one hour)
↓ Breastfeeding in public can be difficult to negotiate, and feel stressful if you worry people are staring at you
↓Some women find their milk dries up - breasts can stop producing enough milk if you don’t feed baby on demand
↓Feeding on demand can make it more difficult to establish a routine
↓ Feelings – mum can feel like a cow having to get her udders out for baby. Can also feel guilty and low if there are problems establishing breastfeeding.
Advantages of Formula
↑ It has the same nutritional content as breast milk
↑ Babies are more full after drinking formula so they put on weight well and sleep for longer between feeds
↑ Less anxiety with bottle feeding - you know exactly how much milk the baby is getting
↑Bottle feeding means that other people can feed the baby, which gives mum a chance to catch up on sleep or other activities including work
↑Bottle feeding means that other people such as dad or grandparents get more time to bond with baby and feel useful.
↑Formula fed babies are less likely to cry from hunger, so it can be easier to establish a routine and feed baby at certain times of day.
↑Arguably it is easier to bottle feed in public.
Disadvantages of Formula
↓ Expensive – formula, bottles and sterilising equipment are needed
↓ Formula fed babies more likely to get colic (gulping too much air when feeding, pain with passing wind)
↓ Babies can overfeed on formula – which can make them sick up and could lead to obesity or diabetes when older.
↓ Time consuming – washing and sterilising bottles and teats and preparing the formula – can be upsetting for baby if they are hungry and waiting for their feed
↓ Formula milk doesn’t keep for as long as breast milk - once formula has been prepared it has to be consumed within 1 or 2 hours (depending on the brand).
↓ Formula milk doesn’t help babies immune system
↓ Recent research says formula fed babies are more likely to be clingy and anxious as young children *
↓ Mum doesn’t get the benefit of burning 500 extra calories a day
↓ Mum doesn’t get reduction in the risk of contracting early breast or ovarian cancer and fracturing her hips
↓ Less impartial support and advice for formula feeing
↓ Premature babies can’t digest formula and have to be fed breastmilk
↓ Feelings – mum can feel guilty and low if they don’t breastfeed.
Breastfeeding has a similar number of advantages compared to its potential disadvantages. It is important for mums to NOT FEEL GUILTY - so long as your baby is getting enough milk does it matter where it comes from? A combination of breast milk and formula may be the best of both worlds.
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