Breastfeeding Vs. Formula: What’s right for you

young mother breastfeeding

The midwives and doulas at Wasatch Midwifery want to do whatever we can to improve the quality of life of our patients and the babies we deliver. We are professional caretakers, so we understand that not all people can choose whether or not breastfeeding is right for you. And that’s okay! You need to do what is right for your body and for your baby. That may not be what’s right for someone else.

That being said, formula has a bad reputation these days. But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, if you were born in the 60s or 70s, chances are, you were bottle fed. Also likely, your mother wasn’t shamed into thinking she wasn’t providing the best care possible for you — her baby.

With new technology and research, many practices from 40 years ago aren’t advisable today. We hope you don’t smoke while pregnant. We hope you don’t place your baby on its stomach for a nap. And we hope you breastfeed if you can.

Breastfeeding

Nursing your baby enhances a lasting bond. What’s more, the nourishment provided by breastfeeding is unmatched. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization all recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months after birth and intermittently until 12 months or longer.

Benefits for Baby

Your breastmilk is perfectly formulated to feed your baby. As they grow, the composition will change to meet their needs — from baby to toddler. The longer you can nurse, the more excellent protection your baby will have against:

  • Ear infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach infection and inflammation

Breastmilk also decreases the risk of health issues when your child gets older. Things like obesity, Chron’s Disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure have all been correlated to decreased levels among children who were breastfed.

Benefits for Parent

The most significant benefits of breast milk? It’s free, it’s always the precisely right temperature. You don’t need to count pennies or heat up bottles in the middle of the night. There are added health benefits when you breastfeed, too, such as decreased risks of:

  • Breast or ovarian cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Postpartum depression
  • Hypertension

And of course, your partner and other caregivers can feed your baby if you pump before feeding time.

Formula

Typically made from commercially-altered cow’s milk, scientists create baby formula in a lab. They add all the minerals and nutrient elements possible to simulate breast milk as closely as possible. If you aren’t breastfeeding, always use formula as an alternative, and never try to recreate it at home.

There are benefits to choosing formula, including the parent’s comfort, convenience, and flexibility. That being said, while some formula can be a healthy alternative to breastmilk, many brands can put your baby’s health at risk.

The main difference you’ll find with formula is its lack of antibodies. This means your baby is at a higher risk of infection or illness.

Formula is typically more difficult for your baby to digest, meaning they will frequently suffer from gas, constipation, or an upset stomach.

Making the Right Choice for You

The truth is, if your lifestyle, comfort level, and medical situation allow it, breastfeeding is the healthier option for you and your baby. But the choice to breastfeed is a personal one. You will still be able to bond with your little one if you bottle feed, and while the benefits aren’t as substantial, formula is still a healthy alternative to breastfeeding.

Remember, the most important thing is that your baby is well fed and loved. No mommy guilt here!

If you choose to breastfeed, Wasatch Midwifery and Wellness offers classes to help. Call us today to reserve your place.