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Breast or Bottle?: The Facts about Breastfeeding

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On the fence about breastfeeding? Learn the facts here.

Choosing to breast feed or bottle feed (or to use a combination of both) is a personal decision which every mom and soon-to-be mom must face. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to both. The method of feeding chosen should be one that incorporates personal views, health, emotional and physical well-being, and promotes a happy and healthy home for parents, infants, and siblings.

 

The Advantages of Breastfeeding

 

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Breastmilk is the most ideal food for your baby and is cost-effective, readily available, and easy to digest. The composition of human breastmilk is unique to each individual and provides your growing baby with all the nutritional components needed during growth and development. Unlike formula, breastmilk provides your baby with immunoglobulins which help protect your baby against illnesses and potential allergies. Research suggests that breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and cancer1 than their formula fed counterparts.
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to your baby, but to you as well. Breastfeeding releases hormones which help the uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy state, provide protection against pregnancy, and enhance the mother-infant bonding experience. Most breastfeeding moms find that they lose weight easier and faster than non-breastfeeding moms. Research also indicates that breastfeeding can help decrease the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and postpartum depression1.

The Disadvantages of Breastfeeding
 

Initially, breastfeeding can be awkward, uncomfortable, and painful for some moms. With practice and

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support, these feelings usually subside quickly and breastfeeding becomes second nature. Breastfeeding moms may feel overwhelmed and over-tired in the first couple of weeks. Once good breastfeeding has been established, other family members can help mom by feeding the baby expressed (pumped) breastmilk. Issues that may arise and cause a breastfeeding mom discomfort include mastitis (infection of the breast), sore nipples, cracked nipples, and engorgement. Proper latch and good breast care can avoid most of these issues.

 

Breastfeeding moms need to pay close attention to their diet. Nursing moms require an additional 500 calories per day, plenty of fluids, and lots of rest to ensure adequate breastmilk production. Nursing mothers of multiples require an additional 500 calories per day per child. Caffeine and alcohol should be limited since both of these can pass into the breastmilk. Nursing moms should also avoid fish high in mercury since high levels can be harmful to a baby’s developing brain.

Educate yourself on breastfeeding, analyze your (and your partner’s) personal beliefs, and discuss the issue with your healthcare provider to assist you in making the best decision for you, your baby, and your family.

Cited Source:

1. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM). ABM Statements: Position on Breastfeeding. 2008. Accessed April 6, 2009.

References:
The Nursing Mother’s Companion. Huggins, K. (2005)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Womenshealth.gov
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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