Are you on the fence trying to decide which way to go? There are plenty of reasons to breastfeed, and a few good reasons to bottle feed. Do you really know the facts?
Here are some of the reasons to breastfeed offered by experts, and a few counterpoints to help you make an informed decision.
1. Breastfeeding promotes bonding. There is evidence which indicate the release of oxytocin, a powerful hormone, can help a mother become more engaged in bonding. Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding.
2. Breastfeeding satisfies a baby’s emotional needs. This reason which is often mentioned by breastfeeding advocates is a double edged sword. It is true the emotional needs are better met when the baby is held closely during feeding, as is required with breastfeeding. The contention it is better than bottle feeding only holds true if parents choose to prop up the bottle instead of holding their baby. Most parents continue to hold their baby, making this reason important, but not as strong.
3. Breastfeeding gives the baby more protection from illness. This reason should be very high on your list for reasons to breastfeed. There is no doubt your baby will have less illness, and gain long term health benefits from breastfeeding.
4. Breast milk is easier for the baby to digest. Once again, this is a very strong and real reason to breastfeed. Breast milk is nature’s intended food for our babies, and is the easiest to digest.
5. Breast milk is more nutritious. This is one of those reasons up for debate. Breast milk contains all of a baby’s needs. So do most good quality formulas. Some formula brands actually provide more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than breast milk. The unknown factor is the efficiency in absorption and the mother’s dietary intake.
6. Breastfeeding leads to a higher IQ. This statement is often made due to a study done in New Zealand. The study was done with 1000 children tracking them for 18 years. The only problem with this conclusion is there is no further studies completed to backup the claims, yet. It is still a compelling reason to breastfeed at this point.
7. Breast milk is always ready and always warmed perfectly. This is another of those claims which while true has a major hole in it. What about the mother who needs to return to work? Her breast milk is no longer always ready, and the milk is no longer warmed perfectly every time. Overall the statement holds good value, but weigh the merits of the statement for your own life.
8. The baby sucking helps reduce the size of the uterus after delivery. This is a very strong reason to breastfeed at least initially. The only fault in this argument is when it is used to convey a need for long term breastfeeding.
As you can easily see there are very strong reasons to breastfeed. The overwhelming evidence points to advantages for your baby in health and intelligence. The reason behind our brief counterpoints is to make sure you understand choosing to use formula is not a bad choice, it is just not the most preferred choice. If possible you should choose to breastfeed. If it is not possible, you do not need to feel guilty.