Breastfeeding vs Bottle feeding: what option is right for you?
As parents to be and new parents soon discover, when it comes to looking after baby, everyone has opinions that they want to share with you, whether or not you ask for them. Breastfeeding vs Bottle feeding baby can be a very divisive topic, and it’s a big decision for parents, especially mum, to make. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs bottle feeding.
Is breastfeeding better than bottle feeding?
Breast is best is a message many will have heard and human breast milk is designed to be the optimum source of nutrition for your baby. It’s safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
Breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients that your baby needs for the first months of their life. That’s why worldwide health organisations like WHO and UNICEF recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of their life – meaning that baby should have no other foods or liquids, not even water.
However, there may be very good reasons why baby isn’t exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months. If your baby is premature for example, it may take some time for mum’s milk to come in. Also breastfeeding can be difficult for some mums and not everyone gets the support they need to do it.
Breastfeeding pros and cons
Practically, breastfeeding can be low cost and convenient. Breast milk is always fresh and available and served up at body temperature whether you’re at home or out and about.
When it comes to health, breastfeeding really is a wonder. Breastfeeding reduces your baby's risk of:
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Childhood leukaemia
- Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
Breastfeeding also has health benefits for mum too it also lowers your risk of:
- breast cancer
- ovarian cancer
- osteoporosis (weak bones)
- cardiovascular disease
You may have heard that breastfeeding can help you lose your baby weight. It’s true that breastfeeding burns calories, so you need to make sure you have plenty to eat and drink while you’re breastfeeding your baby.
You’ll produce more oxytocin, the happy hormone, which in turn can make you and your baby feel more relaxed and content.
And it’s a beautiful bonding experience between you and baby.
One challenge with breastfeeding is that it can sometimes hurt. This is mainly down to issues with baby latching on your breast properly. Some days you’ll think you’ve got it cracked, others that will just be your nipples.
But a great latch can make all the difference and minimise the risk of nipple soreness or infection. And once your baby masters the latch this also works wonders on getting up that all important milk supply.
Have a look at what support is available in your area and remember both you and your baby are learning a brand new skill. Once you’ve both mastered it there will be no looking back.
If you can get support from a breastfeeding advisor then do so and remember it may take a while to get comfortable and confident and that’s ok.
Breastfeeding does require some commitment from mum to always be on demand or expressing especially in those early days. You may feel more like a milking machine, and while that’s not always convenient or comfortable, it does pay off for all those benefits above.
Challenges such as engorgement, mastitis or other infections may also make breastfeeding more difficult and in some cases may be severe enough to make it necessary to move on from breastfeeding to bottle and formula feeding.
But with the right support, most mums get through it and breast vs bottle feeding isn’t an all or nothing choice. You can switch between the two.
Read what some real mums have to say about their breastfeeding experiences
Check out our range of products designed to make breastfeeding as relaxed and simple as possible