You’ve heard it said, “Breastfeeding is best.” Do you really know why breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for your child? You may not be in the same camp as those who believe this and that is fine. The bottom line is, you need to make the choice to breastfeed or not, based on your own unique and personal challenges and beliefs. No one else can make that decision for you but you and remember, choosing how to nourish your infant is not the time you should be concerned about comparisons. Regardless of your personal choice, breast milk is amazing.
Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics has identified over 100 nutrients in breast milk? None of these nutrients can be fully duplicated in formula. By comparison, the FDA only requires a minimum of 29 nutrients in formula. Part of the nutritional benefits of breast milk are the antibodies that help bolster a healthy immune system in infants. These antibodies prevent against viral and bacterial infections. Colostrum, the first milk, has special proteins which coat the intestinal tract which allows a barrier of protection against harmful bacteria.
Another interesting fact about breast milk is that it is always changing as your baby grows and has different nutritional needs. Because of this, your baby is always getting the perfect ratio of fat, protein and minerals. Your breast milk can change not only from week to week but even hour to hour. This helps protect your baby against obesity as well. Oftentimes, a formula fed baby can get excess calories that sets them up for obesity, later in life. Even the taste of the milk changes depending on the foods mom is eating. This allows your baby to experience several different tastes which may help eliminate food pickiness down the road.
These are some benefits for baby…but what about mom?
Breastfeeding burns 500-600 calories a day for mom. That is why it is important to keep up on your own healthy eating habits. Hormones are released when your milk is let down that helps with anxiety and stress and allows you to bond more effectively with your baby.
Breastfeeding is good for mom’s health too. It lowers your risk for future breast and ovarian cancer and protects against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even helps to protect you against postpartum depression.
Breastfeeding is efficient and saves time and money. For some moms, this is a lifesaver. Choosing breast milk for your baby doesn’t mean you have to breastfeed. Some moms pump exclusively and offer the breast milk in a bottle or use it as a form of supplementation to formula.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that you need to weigh the pros and cons to breastfeeding versus formula feeding and do what is best for you and your baby. Breastfeeding isn’t compatible with every woman and that is not something to feel bad about. What matters is the love and care you offer your baby.