Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding: Deciding Which Is Best For You

Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding: Deciding Which Is Best For You

Once you find out you’re expecting, you’re going to have a lot of decisions to make.

And one of the most important is whether you will breastfeed or formula feed.

There are definite advantages and disadvantages to both, and it ultimately comes down to what you feel the most comfortable doing (despite what anyone else thinks).

And to help make your decision easier, I’ve laid out some important points for you to consider. 

Why Breastfeeding Might Be For You

Directly feeding your baby from your breasts may be for you if:

  • You want a physical bond with your baby. Many moms crave this connection and some believe children end up being closer with their parents in the long run.
  • You're patient and determined. It may not come easily. Your baby may not latch, it may hurt, you may not produce enough milk at first, and you’ll be tired. So, being patient and determined is beyond important.
  • You're a stay at home mom. Breastfeeding is ultra-time consuming. If you are planning on going back to work, you will need to pump to keep up your supply. And, some women are not ok with this. So, be aware that nursing is most ideal for full time, stay at home moms.
  • You aren't shy. When you nurse, you have to do it on a moment’s notice. This means, pulling out your breasts in public or in front of friends and family. While things can be procured for privacy, many moms who nurse have no qualms in doing it wherever and whenever.

5 Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are many benefits of breastfeeding, but here are some really important ones:

  • 1
    Specifically made for your baby. Breast milk is formulated especially for your baby’s unique needs. It is loaded with the nutrients they need to continue to develop and thrive, and it can be especially useful for premature babies.
  • 2
    Helps with postpartum healing. Your uterus shrinks much faster when you nurse and your bleeding subsides faster. You're also more inclined to lose your baby weight faster because your body is burning tons of calories producing milk and dispensing it! Woo hoo!
  • 3
    Reduces illness and infection. Your baby has a reduced chance of having an ear infection and other respiratory illnesses.
  • 4
    Promotes a healthy weight. Breastfed babies tend to have a lessened chance of being obese in childhood and throughout their life.
  • 5
    Cost-effective. Breast milk is free! This is a huge reason why many moms nurse.

Possible Downsides of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding isn't without its downsides, so here are some things to consider:

  • Time-consuming. When you exclusively breastfeed, you have to commit to a regimented schedule. This means you will be up with your baby feeding, every couple hours. And, if you’re in public, it still has to be done!
  • Falls solely on you. You’re the one making milk, so you’re the one who will be nursing. This can get exhausting since you’ll never get a break (and overnight feedings can be tough) unless you start to pump and allow your partner or caregivers the ability to bottle feed with your breast milk (but this could cause nipple confusion). 
  • Painful. Until your nipples toughen up, you are subject to have them crack and bleed. This can be discouraging to some moms. It can also be painful when your breasts fill up and need to get emptied.
  • Leakage. Your nipples will leak in between feedings and this could cause some discomfort and embarrassment, so you’ll have to be wearing nursing pads to alleviate the situation!
  • You need to stay close to home. Your baby needs to eat every few hours, so that really limits you to where you can go, without pumping.

Why Formula Feeding Might Be For You

Some moms rely on formula feeding to provide nourishment and nutrients to their little one. It may be for you if:

  • You're a working mom. Formula feeding can be the easiest solution since you won’t be home to feed and you may not have time or want to pump at work.
  • You don't feel comfortable with a physical connection. Not all women desire to breastfeed. It could be because they don’t feel comfortable with establishing that physical relationship, and choose to bond with their baby in a different way.
  • You lead an active lifestyle. Because women who nurse need to be around their home often, formula feeding may be a better option for those who are active and always on the go. 
  • You want help from a variety of caregivers. Formula feedings allows for all members of the family to get in on the action, allowing moms to sleep and rest more often.

5 Benefits of Formula Feeding

  • 1
    Provides nutrients and nourishment. Formula is designed so well today, it virtually mimics breast milk. Your baby will still receive plenty of essentials by drinking from a bottle.
  • 2
    Easier to learn. Latching can take time, but babies pick up on nursing from a bottle’s nipple pretty quickly. 
  • 3
    It travels well. You can make up a bottle pretty much anywhere, as the powdered formula is easy to preserve and mix. And, you don’t have to worry about having your privacy invaded during a feeding.
  • 4
    Increases dexterity. Many babies who are bottle fed get used to holding onto their bottle when fed, which leads to independent feeding sooner than breastfed babies, because their hands are stronger. 
  • 5
    Bonding moment. While you may not have that skin to skin action, you can still bond with your baby through bottle feedings by making eye contact, cuddling, and rocking!

Possible Downsides of Formula Feeding

Formula feeding can have some downsides; here are some things to consider:

  • Expensive. A canister for formula is not cheap! While you can clip coupons and take advantage of reward points, expect formula to take up a bulk of your baby budget.
  • May not sit well with baby. It’s not uncommon for moms to go back and forth between brands until they find a formula patented for your baby’s specific needs. Some need a thicker solution due to acid reflux, while others may have an allergy to cow’s milk.
  • Has to get mixed. It does take a moment to two, to prepare and warm a bottle. And, when you have a screaming infant on your hands, a moment can feel like an eternity! 
  • Difficult to make ahead of time. You can make bottles ahead of time, but it can be difficult to anticipate how much your baby will drink, which can lead to waste, which can be really frustrating and expensive. Also, if out and about in extreme heat, you have to make sure your bottles are packed properly and your powder is preserved so it doesn’t spoil and make your baby sick.
  • Takes up space. Bottles and formula takes up a lot of space in a closet or on a countertop! There’s constant washing and drying, and sterilizing, which also requires a large amount of equipment.

What If My Milk Doesn't Come In?

You may have decided that you definitely want to breastfeed, but your milk has decided differently.

Did you know that an estimated 1%-5% or women cannot produce milk? This can happen due to the following reasons:

  • check
    Natural, low milk supply
  • check
    Thyroid disorder
  • check
    PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • check
    Insulin resistance
  • check
    Hormone Disorder

In addition, you may have inverted nipples or suffer from postpartum depression, and this could also affect milk production and delivery of nutrients during the feeding process.

Don’t give in and allow them a “quick nurse” as this will reinforce to your child that their pleading is effective and can make it more difficult the next time you try to say no.

While the statistic is low, it does happen. So, it’s best to have a back up plan and trust in the fact that formula will help nourish your child.

Also, some babies may just not be able to latch and will be labeled as having “feeding problems”, because they’ll be unable to transfer milk.

Formulate a Plan of Action

The good news is that there’s a lactation specialist stationed at every hospital, as well as lactation consultants (most insurance companies cover this) that live in your area who are ready and willing to help you with your problems and questions.

Together, you can formulate a plan of action that will either help you reach your nursing goals, or provide the right amount of milk (regardless of its form) to your infant.

Because it’s possible that your milk may not come in, regardless of how motivated you are to nurse, you may want to prepare for this event and register for a bottle set, just in case.

The set can always be returned if unused and this helps ensure preparedness and the realization that this could occur.

Just remember to stay positive during the process and keep an open mind that things may not always happen as planned.

Wrapping Up

So, which method will you select?

As a mother, you have the right to choose how you want to feed your child.

While both the bottle and the breast have advantages and disadvantages, there is a method that is right for each family.

Choose the method based on your interest, lifestyle, and needs.

Regardless of your choice, your child will grow and thrive, and the act of feeding, despite your method, will serve as a pure bonding moment.

Kate Trout
 

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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