Deciding whether to breastfeed or provide formula milk is a major decision amongst new mothers. As simple as it may seem, the decision to breastfeed versus formula feed babies can be difficult and one of the most important decisions a mother can make. While there is nothing wrong with giving babies formula milk, breastfeeding should be the number one choice for mothers. As breast milk provides more nutrients, is naturally produced by mothers and is less expensive, breastfeeding is more beneficial than formula milk.
When examining the benefits of breastfeeding as opposed to formula milk, breast milk tops the list with the nutrients and antibodies it provides. As breast milk contains antibodies that formula milk does not, this provides extra protection for babies against diseases and viruses. The first milk a baby receives while breastfeeding is colostrum. Colostrum is rich in nutrients and the mother’s own disease-preventing antibodies which may protect the baby from certain viruses (Kutner, 2012). Thus, breastfeeding babies contribute to building babies’ immune systems.
As the breast milk matures, “the cells, hormones, and antibodies [in breast milk]…protect babies from illness” (Womenshealth. gov, 2011). This combination is unique to breast milk and is not contained in formula milk. On the other hand, some formula milk does contain more vitamin D than breast milk, which is essential in building strong bones. In addition, formula milk also contains fluoride which is important for healthy teeth. However, both nutrients can be provided to babies as a supplement if they are needed. Formula milk does not contain the antibodies that breast milk has which contributes to a healthier, less sick baby.
Breast milk is produced naturally by mothers and is designed especially for babies whereas formula milk is manufactured. Since breast milk is unique to each mother and child, there is no worry about the baby having an allergic reaction to the milk or not able to consume it. Unlike manufactured formula milk, breast milk also decreases allergies some babies develop from being exposed to allergens from other milk products. “By postponing the introduction of allergens into the child’s body until they are more mature, the risk of them developing an allergy is significantly reduced” Netdoctor pg. ( 30-04- 2010). In addition, breast milk is also easier for babies to digest than formula milk. As the mother’s milk matures, it contains a natural balance of fat, sugar, water and protein to help [babies] continue to grow (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, 2011). Because breast milk is easier for babies to digest, breastfed babies are less likely to experience constipation and other gastric irritations as opposed to babies that are fed formula milk.
On the other hand, since it takes longer for formula milk to digest, babies could go a little longer between feedings. However, mothers face a bigger risk of having a fussy baby because of gas and constipation as a result of the difficulties babies may have digesting the formula milk as opposed to the easier digested breast milk. Since breast milk is produced by mothers, there is a less likely chance of contamination than formula milk. Formula milk is manufactured, which leaves room for the formula milk to get contaminated by different bacteria that can be very harmful to a baby.
Bacteria such as Salmonella can unintentionally get in manufactured milk and cause serious health issues for babies. In addition, there is no real way of knowing what products are used to make formula milk. Pat Thomas (2006) states, “Formula may also contain unintentional contaminants introduced during the manufacturing process. Some may contain traces of genetically engineered soya and corn. ” Even though the package may list the main ingredients, there are other things used that may be unknown. By breast feeding, mothers have a greater control of what enters their babies’ body.
As breast milk is produced naturally by mothers, breastfeeding is less expensive and more convenient for mothers than formula milk. Since the breast milk is produced by mothers, it is a free source of milk as opposed to the cost associated with buying formula milk. The cost of formula averages between $1,000 and $1,500 for the first year of a baby’s life. Schoenstad pg. 1 (31-07- 2009) Since a mother is breastfeeding, the need for bottles and nipples is not as high as opposed to the requirement of having bottles and nipples in order to feed babies formula milk.
In addition, since breast milk contains antibodies that promote healthier babies, medical bills are lower. Breastfeeding is also more convenient for mothers as opposed to feeding babies formula milk. Unlike formula milk, mothers do not have to worry about measuring, mixing and warming the milk before feeding their babies. The breast milk is right at hand when it’s needed. Even for working mothers, they are able to pump the breast milk and store for a later time. Since the milk is already prepared, there is less worry that others may not mix the baby’s milk correctly.
Breastfeeding also provides time for mother and baby to bond while allowing the mother to relax. On the other hand, feeding babies formula milk, allows others the opportunity to feed the baby while taking the pressure off of mom. Lawrence Kutner (2012) states, “One of the advantages of [formula]-feeding is that it allows fathers to spend more time caring for their baby”. However, mothers can pump and store breast milk to allow fathers and other relatives feeding time with the baby. Thus, by breast feeding as opposed to providing formula milk, mothers are able to save money while also saving time.
In conclusion, as breast milk provides more nutrients and antibodies, is naturally designed for babies, cost less and saves times, the benefits of breastfeeding outweighs formula milk. The nutrients and antibodies produced in breast milk contribute greatly to a healthier baby. Because breast milk is produced naturally, it is designed especially to meet the baby’s needs and is readily available. Mothers do not have to worry about the high cost of formula milk and spend less time measuring and mix milk. As mothers breastfeed their infants, a bond is developed that outweighs any advantages formula milk provides. ?