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Bottle or Breast? Which is Best?

Breastfeeding has been proven to be the most beneficial way to feed a newborn, for both mom and baby. The AMA recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 12 months, and continuing for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby (1). It is wonderful to see this idea being supported. When I first had kids, the push was to maybe breastfeed 6 months. Recently, my pediatrician told me that he likes to see moms breastfeed for 2 years. Wow! What a change.

The benefits of breastfeeding include, but are not limited to:

  • Passage of antibodies from the mother to the infant, in a time when the infant does not have their own immune system to speak of. (2)

  • Reduced risk of certain types of breast cancer for mother. (3)

  • Easy for you baby to digest

  • Economic benefits due to reduced cost of formula, storage, delivery, and time to prepare. (4)

  • Easier portability. If you choose to exclusively nurse, food is ready and on tap at all times, in all places! And if you choose to pump, your partner or another caretaker can take turns feeding the baby.

  • Your breast milk is always changing to meet the demands of your baby. If you baby is sick, the milk will have in it what your baby needs to heal. If your baby needs more milk, the breast will change to increase the volume for your baby.

  • Creates bonding and attachment

There is also a lot to be said for the bonding that can happen between a mother and infant, though this bonding is possible to achieve with bottle feeding as well. Closeness is the important thing to take from your time feeding baby, no matter how you choose to do it.

However, not all circumstances and people are the same, so breastfeeding may not be the right option for all mothers. Formula feeding is trying very hard to catch up to the nutritional benefits of breast milk. So if you try breastfeeding and choose not to continue, remember that the amount of breastmilk you gave your baby was beneficial no matter the amount. Formula feeding is safe and effective… and will still result in a healthy, happy, and full baby!

Some of the benefits of formula feeding are:

  • May be more accommodating for working mothers. Without having to take breaks to pump, productivity and accommodations are left out of the rapidly increasing pile of things new mothers are forced to deal with.

  • Formula is not as easily digested as breastmilk, and so will satiate baby for longer periods. This may allow for a more routine feeding schedule and longer periods of continuous sleep for baby, and so also for mother.

  • Nighttime feeding sessions can be easily handled by another caretaker without mother having to worry about keeping supply up.

  • If baby is sensitive to certain foods, mother won’t have to adjust her diet to accommodate.

Tennessee law states that a mother has the right to feed in any place they are legally allowed to be. Do not ever let someone bully you into a bathroom stall or your car. Federal law states that your employer is required to provide you with breaks and a safe, clean, private location to pump breastmilk while at work that is not a bathroom.

If you choose to breastfeed, remember that it may not be an easy journey, but there are resources out there to those who need them. You can attend meetings, organizations, hire lactation consultants, and call hotlines in the area that will provide everything from quick answers to in-home, hands on help.

o La Leche League o St. Thomas Midtown Breastfeeding Outreach Clinic o Vanderbilt Breastfeeding Support (free support groups meeting almost every day) o Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition o TN Department of Health Breastfeeding Support Hotline 1-855-423-6667 o Stone Crest Medical Center has a drop in breastfeeding clinic.

I love to see moms happily breastfeed, but I am equally sad to see moms who felt guilt because they could not breastfeed. The shaming we give about our choices as moms needs to stop. I am grateful that we have so many options today and the support in our choices. I hope women to day get educated so they can make the best choice for them and their baby.

1. AAP Reaffirms Breastfeeding Guidelines 2. How Breastmilk Protects Newborns 3. Association Between Breastfeeding, reduced Risk of Aggressive Breast Cancer 4. The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis

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