Choosing Between the Bottle and Breast Feeding

Choosing to breast feed or bottle feed is ultimately the choice of the mother. Other relatives, friends and even the father can offer input, advice and support but it is the mother who will be using her body to nourish the child and therefore it is her choice. There is no law stating that one form is acceptable over another and even statistics and research show that one form is not better than the other. In fact, if two children stand side-by-side evne the most expert professional will not be able to tell which child was breast fed and which was bottle fed.

It is helpful to know some of the advantages and disadvantages to breast or bottle feeding so that the mother can make an informed descion that is right for her and her baby. Some mothers do not feel comfortable breast feeding, some infants will abseloutly refuse to feed from one form, and some mothers may be away for work or travel and unable to breast feed on a regular schedule. There is a lot to consider when making a decision such as this.

BREAST FEEDING

Breast feeding is a wonderful way to bond with baby and has many advantages. It is the preferred method for many mothers because it is natural and until recent decades was the only way to feed a child. Some of the advantages are:

1. No bottle preparation.
2. Easy to travel with baby.
3. Breast milk is digested more thoroughly for better utilization of
nutrients.
4. No extra expenses.
5. Chances for developing allergies are rare.
6. Size of breasts is no indication of ability to nurse successfully.
7. Provides immunity to some diseases in early months.
8. More hygenic.
9. It is a bonding experience between both mother and baby.
10.While milk is being produced a woman cannot get pregnant
again.

However, nothing is perfect and every good thing has its disadvantages. Some of those involved with breast feeding are:

1. Supplements must be given if mother is not available to nurse.
2. Feeding may be more frequent.
3. Leaking is common may be bothersome (breasts leak milk and
wet spots can appear on mother’s shirt).
4. Engorgment is common until feeding times are adjusted
(engorgement is when baby eats too much).
5. Mother needs to decide if she is comfrotable nursing in front of
others.
6. Often decreased vaginal lubrication makes intercourse more
difficult.
7. Father may have to deal with feeling left out or jealous of time
spent between mother and baby.
8. May affect choice of contraceptives.
9. Will affect what mother eats and drinks as it can pass to the milk.
10. Mother’s emotional status may affect success of feeding.

BOTTLE FEEDING

With more mothers in the work force and also with children living with adoptive or foster parents or even other relatives, bottle feeding has become a popular choice in recent decades. Some if its advantages are:

1. Feeding responsibility can be shared.
2. Engorement is not common because a bottle gives measurable
amounts (it is hard to measure how much baby eats from the
breast).
3. Generally feeding times are less frequent.
4. May be easier for both mom and baby to learn at first (it is easier
to bottle feed than to get the position and suction on a breast just
right).
5. There is no interference with a sexual relationship.
6. Mother’s emotional status has less affect on the success of
feeding.

However, there are disadvantages as well. Some things to consider if choosing bootle feeding are:

1. Must wash bottles and nipples quite frequently.
2. Must buy and prepare formula or use a breast pump (which
is time-consuming and can be painful or discomforting.)
3. Formula is more difficult for baby to digest.
4. Proportions of nutrients are not exactly the same as breast-milk.
5. Formula is expensive and a lot must be purchased.
6. Bottles are not hygenic and need to be boiled or sanitized before
use.
7. Nighttime feedings are more cumbersome due to bottle and
nipple preparation.

Remember, there is no sure way to know which method is best for you and your baby. Discuss it with baby’s pediatrician in case there are concerns over illnesses, immune system or allergies but once the desicion has been made to bottle feed and a woman’s breast milk dries up there is no turning back. However, if a woman breast feeds for days, weeks or even months and then wants to convert to bottle feeding there is generally no problem with the transition.

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