Making the decision to breastfeed is a very personal one. However, it can also be a difficult decision to make. If you’re doing research on the right thing to do for your baby, it’s likely you’ll find a lot of conflicting results and recommendations. The truth is, the best way to determine if you should breastfeed is by meeting with your maternal fetal medicine specialist. It can be helpful, though, to know the latest information about breastfeeding and whether it’s the right option for your child. Let’s take a look at breastfeeding, formula feeding, and what questions you should ask your obstetrician.
The Difference Between Breast Milk and Formula
There are a lot of benefits to both breast milk and formula. It can be difficult to argue against breast milk since it’s naturally produced by your body to be the perfect source of nutrition for your newborn. However, baby formula has come a long way over the years and can be a very effective supplement. It’s typically commercially produced using cow’s milk as a base and contains other proteins, fats, and nutrients to mimic natural breast milk. It comes in a powder or liquid form and is designed to be fed to infants under 12 months of age.
It’s important to keep in mind that baby formula is a manufactured product and often marketed as a perfectly comparable alternative when, in reality, it’s nearly impossible to perfectly mimic breast milk. Still, there are benefits to each and it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of each.
What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?
There are a lot of benefits of breastfeeding, the foremost of which is natural antibodies against many different types of infection and serious medical conditions. These are usually passed on through the mother, meaning your natural immunizations and antibodies can help protect your baby’s health. Additionally, breastfed babies tend to have fewer digestion problems and more easily transition to solid foods through secondhand exposure to your diet. It also can drastically open up your budget by preventing the need to purchase formula regularly.
Finally, many mothers benefit from breastfeeding. The close contact that comes with breastfeeding can help strengthen emotional bonds as well as support the transition of the mother’s body back to a pre-baby state by aiding in shrinking the uterus and burning more calories. Some studies even show that breastfeeding can come with health benefits for mothers, including a reduced risk of serious health concerns.
What are the Benefits of Formula Feeding?
Formula feeding is the best option for some mothers who have medical concerns that prevent them from breastfeeding. It can also be an effective alternative for mothers who are under too much stress or have difficulty with breastfeeding. It comes with greater convenience for new mothers who don’t have to schedule around feedings – or who have to leave their baby in the care of someone else. Formula can also be longer-lasting for many babies, meaning they don’t need to eat as often.
Although formula feeding can come at a higher cost, it can offer greater freedom and flexibility for new parents. It can be helpful to some women who don’t want to worry about what they eat affecting their breastmilk, as well as women who prefer to plan ahead and free up time they would otherwise spend breastfeeding or pumping.
Should I Breastfeed or Formula Feed?
The choice ultimately comes down to you, your baby, and what’s best for both of you. However, it’s important to have a discussion with your healthcare team. It’s likely that a few different factors are especially important to you, so your maternal fetal medicine specialist can help you determine which option is right. For some women, their baby’s health is most important to them so they breastfeed. For others, they prefer the convenience and more flexible schedule that comes with formula feeding. Your maternal fetal medicine specialist can help you weigh the pros and cons so you can make the best decision for your new family.
Schedule an Appointment
The best way to learn more about breastfeeding and which option is right for you is by meeting with our award-winning team. To schedule an appointment, contact our New York City offices by calling or filling out our online form.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!