Breast or bottle feeding

The decision to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby is a very personal one and should be based on your comfort level as well as your lifestyle. Breastfeeding (or nursing) can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby as it provides a special bonding experience, however, breastfeeding may not be possible or preferable for all women. I want to play devil's advocate and give you differing views on both methods so that you can make your own decision on how you want to feed your baby. Please understand that you and only you can make this very personal decision. Mrs.

Bottle: "I don't want to breastfeed because it is embarrassing to breastfeed baby in public." Mrs. Breast: "If you wear the right clothes you can breastfeed without exposing your breasts, in fact nobody will even notice that you are breastfeeding." Mrs. Bottle: "Putting the baby on the breasts will cause engorged breasts and sore nipples.

Most times baby sucks non stop all day long which can be very tiring for the mother." Mrs. Breast: "You will have engorged breasts even without breast feeding as nature is preparing you to breast feed. With adequate support and practice, most moms are able to get baby to latch on properly without having sore nipples.

I know breast feeding can be very tiring in the early days but once baby knows how to latch on it is so easy. In fact I can do other things like caressing baby or eating whilst my baby is feeding as one hand is free, so sometimes we actually have our meals together. You cannot do this with bottle feeding because you need to hold baby with one hand and the bottle with the other." Mrs.

Breast: "Breast milk is the perfect food for baby as the components - lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat - are easily digested by a newborn's immature system." Mrs. Bottle: "Nowadays most infant formula have been modified to resemble breast milk as closely as possible with the correct amount of protein, fats, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals and other nutrients that babies need.

" Mrs. Breast: "Breast milk is more easily digested so breastfed babies have fewer incidences of diarrhea or constipation" Mrs. Bottle: "If you eat the wrong food your baby can have diarrhea and a lot of wind too and, if the feeds are made up hygienically, the risk of diarrhea is reduced and constipation can be prevented by giving extra water.

" Mrs. Breast: "A nursing mother passes antibodies to her baby to protect or lower the occurrence of many conditions such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections and meningitis. Antibodies cannot be added to formula milk" Mrs.

Bottle: "I have passed antibodies to my baby via the placenta during pregnancy so my baby has some immunity for about 6 months." Mrs. Breast: "Those antibodies are for infection that you have been exposed to before your baby was born.

Breast feeding will give your baby new antibodies against infection that you are exposed to now." "It also protect baby against allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity and SIDS." Mrs. Bottle: "In that case, I can give my baby expressed breast milk.

" Mrs. Breast: "Yes, but why create extra work for yourself? If you give your baby expressed breast milk, you will have to spend money buying feeding bottles, sterilisers etc and think of the time spent washing and sterilising them when you can just let the baby suck directly from the breast." Mrs. Bottle: "If I use bottle feeding my husband or someone else can feed the baby while I rest and it will help my husband to bond with baby." Mrs.

Breast: "Daddy can still bond with baby without actually feeding the baby. I understand that if daddy changes diapers and bathe the baby it will also help them bond." Mrs. Bottle: "Mothers can leave baby at home with daddy or another care taker and go out shopping or run errands on her own without having to bring baby along or rushing back to breastfeed." Mrs.

Breast: "It's also easy for breastfeeding mothers to be active and go out with their babies knowing that they'll have instant food available whenever their little one is hungry and they don't have to carry an extra bag of bottle feeding paraphernalia. There will be times when you need to go out on an urgent matter and if there is no-one available, you will have to take baby with you." Mrs.

Bottle: It is easier to determine when baby needs feeding so mothers can work out some sort of feeding schedule and plan her day around this schedule. Mrs. Breast: "There's no question that breastfeeding does require a substantial time commitment from mothers like many things in parenting, but with a little organization and time management, it is easy to work out a schedule to breastfeed. The skin-to-skin contact enhances the emotional connection between mother and infant and many nursing mothers enjoy the experience of bonding so closely with their babies.

" Mrs. Bottle: "With bottle feeding I can get someone else to feed baby in the night therefore I don't have to get up at all." Mrs. Breast: "Breast milk is always fresh and available and at the right temperature, so there's no need to warm up bottles in the middle of the night.

It is fantastic because I can nurse baby lying down so there is minimal interruption to my sleep." Mrs. Bottle: "I am going back to work after 2 months leave and I would rather start feeding with a bottle so that it will be easier when the time comes." Mrs. Breast: "You need to let baby suckle on the breast to stimulate the let down reflex.

Milk production will diminish if baby does not suckle. You can start offering the bottle when baby is 6 weeks old. That should give you 2 weeks to adjust to bottle feeding." Mrs.

Bottle: "What if my baby does not want to take the bottle by that time?" Mrs. Breast: "Don't worry all babies will suck on anything if they are really hungry." Mrs.

Bottle: "I was told that I have to eat more in order to make milk. Won't that make me put on more weight?" Mrs. Breast "A nursing mother needs extra 500 calories per day to produce breast milk but breastfeeding also burns calories and helps shrink the uterus, so nursing moms are able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight quicker. You need to eat a wide variety of well-balanced foods as this introduces breastfed babies to different tastes through the breast milk which will have different flavors depending on what their mothers have eaten." Mrs. Bottle: "What other benefits are there to breastfeeding? Mrs.

Breast: "Recent studies indicate that breastfeeding might help prevent childhood and adult obesity. According to the National Women's Health Information Center, babies who are breastfed tend to gain less unnecessary weight, which may help them be less overweight later." "Recent studies suggest that children who were exclusively breastfed for 6 months have IQs 5 to 10 points higher than children who were formula fed." "The ability to nourish a baby totally can also help a new mother feel confident in her ability to care for her baby. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer and also may help decrease the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer." So there you are! I hope that the above debate has helped you to make the choice between breast and bottle feeding.

Cecilia Koh is a British trained nurse/midwife with over 30 years working experience. If you want to know more baby care topics go to

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