Is Breast-feeding Really Best for Your Baby?

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Everyone one is telling you that you should breastfeed, and maybe you decided that was exactly how you were going to feed your baby. But when the time came it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Maybe your nipples are very sore, or maybe you’re just not producing enough milk. Whatever the reason, you’re concerned that your baby isn’t eating enough. You’re stressed and starting to feel like you’re failing as a mom, because “we all know” that breast-feeding is not only natural, it’s the best way to feed your baby. But is that really true?  We've all heard that "breast is best." Your pediatrician, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization all  agree that breast-feeding is the preferred way to feed your baby.  However, preferred is not the same as best.

Recently the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have come up with some new guidelines on breast-feeding.  For one thing, they are advocating for more support: “Moms deserve better support, and obstetric providers can and must help, both by assisting their patients and by advocating for policies and practices that enable women to achieve their goals.” They feel that support should begin as early as the first trimester of pregnancy. They also say that “breast-feeding is optimal and appropriate for most women and should be encouraged, however no woman should be coerced, pressured or unduly influenced to breast-feed.”

When Not to Breastfeed.

There are times when it may actually be better not to breastfeed.  Here are some situations where breastfeeding is actually not recommended:

  • If a mother is undergoing chemotherapy or is taking medications for serious health conditions such as MS she should not breastfeed. These medications alter the quality of the breast milk and make it unsafe. Remember that everything that goes into your body, including medications goes into your breast milk.

  • Women who have Hepatitis , HIV or AIDS should not breastfeed.

  • For some women who have had breast surgery, breastfeeding is impossible.

  • If a women is seriously malnourished she should not breastfeed.

As you can see there are some serious reasons why a mother should feed her baby formula.

If you decide to formula feed, either exclusively or in combination with breast milk, you may be wondering how good formula really is. Does it supply your baby with the nutrients needed to grow and develop?

The manufacturing of baby formula is highly regulated. Formula is made to resemble breast milk as much as possible. It contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates vitamins and minerals. It also meets the standards of the nutritional committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Why is Breast-feeding Preferred?

So why is everyone saying that breast is preferred?  Breast has immunoglobins which boost the baby's immune system.  These are not found in formula. When a mom is exposed to a germ, she makes antibodies to fight that germ and these antibodies are passed along to her baby through her breast milk. This helps keep baby healthy. That is the main advantage of breastfeeding.

Comparing Breastmilk to Formula

Both Breastmilk and Formula contain: Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, Proteins and Water

Only Breastmilk contains: Antibodies, Hormones and Enzymes

As you can see, the nutrients are pretty much equal. What is lacking in formula are the antibodies, hormones and enzymes.

It is important to feed your baby. Whether you chose breastmilk or formula is a personal choice. And feeding your baby is not just about filling your baby's tummy. This is also a time to bond with your baby. Feeding should be an act of love. Babies don't live by milk alone. Always make the best choice for you.

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic which can sometimes be very controversial. What has your experience been with either breastfeeding or feeding your baby formula? Leave your comment below.