For all expectant or new parents, deciding between breast milk and formula milk is an important decision to be made. Healthcare professionals encourage mothers to breastfeed their baby exclusively for the first 6 months of life, followed by a mixture of breast milk with solid foods to at least 1 year old.
In some circumstances, mothers cannot breastfeed their children. These mothers may have some illness, medications, lifestyle and insufficient milk production. Therefore, formula milk is a healthy alternative to provide the required nutrients to grow and thrive.
So, what are the pros and cons of breastmilk and formula milk?
i) Pros :
- Breastfed babies have better immunity and fewer infections
- Breast milk contains antibodies that help the baby to fight off infections. This is a very important component of the breast milk as baby has an immature immune system.
- More nutrition and digested better
- A breastfed baby has less diarrhoea or constipation as breast milk is easier to be digested. The breast milk contains more wholesome nutrients that cannot be duplicated by formula milk.
- Free and convenient
- Breast milk is free and can save the new parents some cash. Parents may need to spend some cash on breast pumps. As a breastfed child has fewer infections, their doctor’s visit is less frequent. Mother can feed their children in the breastfeeding facilities in the public without hassle.
- Mom’s benefit
- It can help a new mother to slim down as it can burn up to 500 calories through breastfeeding itself. Therefore, a nursing mother can return to their pre-pregnancy weight and body quicker.
- Mother’s personal comfort
- The mother may experience latch pain during the first week of breastfeeding. It can be overcome with proper technique and practices. It also required for the mother to feed her baby every 2 hours, which requires great commitment.
- Diet awareness
- Since breastmilk is produced the by mother’s body, a mother’s diet can affect the content of breastmilk. It is recommended to reduce the intake of alcohol and fish that contains mercury.
i) Pros :
- Diet awareness
- Mothers no need to worry about the diet as formula milk is in instant powder preparation.
- Convenience and flexibility
- Both parents can bottle feed their baby. This allows sharing of caring responsibilities with partners involving in the feeding process. Caregivers can also feed the baby accordingly.
ii) Cons :
- Nutrition of formula milk
- Formula milk does not contain antibodies as breast milk does. It cannot duplicate the complexity of breast milk produced by mothers.
- Formula milk can be costly. There are different types of milk powder, but some babies need a special formula which costs even more.
- Babies who feed on formula milk has more bouts of constipation and diarrhoea as compared to a breastfed baby.
In conclusion, deciding between breast milk and formula milk is a personal decision. While reading through the pros and cons of breastmilk, it is recommended to consult your doctors or lactation specialist to obtain more information.
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