Knowing how to feed your newborn is the first nutrition decision you make for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should be breastfed for the first 6 months. After the infant is introduced to solid food, breastfeeding should still continue through the first year and even beyond, if desired. Although, breastfeeding isn’t always possible and available to all new moms. Deciding to breastfeed or bottle-feed the baby is based on the mother’s comfortability, with breastfeeding, and also her lifestyle.
However, breastfeeding has numerous advantages. It is important to know that breast milk is the perfect food for a baby’s digestive system, it has all the nutrients that a newborn needs, all of its components- lactose, protein(whey and casein), and fat, are easily digested. Formulas often try to imitate breast milk and while it comes close, it still doesn’t match the exact composition of breast milk.
Breast milk also has antibodies that help protect babies from infectious illnesses, including diarrhoea and respiratory infections. Studies suggest that breastfed babies are less likely to develop medical problems such as asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol and allergies. Breastfeeding also decreases the chances that a child will become overweight or obese.
Breastfeeding is also advantageous to the mothers, it burns calories so nursing moms get back in shape quicker. Breastfeeding also may protect the mom from breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Some mothers prefer breastfeeding to formula feeding because it is quicker and easier- it doesn’t need any preparations and you don’t run out of breast milk in the middle of the night.
Breastfeeding also cost very little.
Nursing mothers should eat more and buy more nursing bras and pads, a breast pump and several others. These expenses are lesser, when compared to the cost of formula. Breastfeeding meets a variety of emotional needs for both the mother and child, the skin-to-skin contact can enhance emotional connection and provide confidence in the mother’s ability to care for her newborn.
Some limitations to breastfeeding, however, include;
The exhaustion that comes with it, new moms usually feel tied down by the demands of the nursing newborn.
Some mothers need to get back to work outside the home or separate from their babies from time to time for other reasons. These moms opt for formula feeding.
Sometimes the mother might feel embarrassed about breastfeeding, these feelings subside when a successful breastfeeding process is set.
In some cases, health conditions make the mother unable to breastfeed her baby. Such conditions include; cancer(mothers undergoing chemotherapy), and mothers infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) should not breastfeed.
Situations such as when the baby is sick or born prematurely, also prevent a mother from breastfeeding her child.
Also, mothers who have inverted nipples may have trouble breastfeeding, but with the help of a lactation consultant, there can be a solution.
Avoid the use of pacifiers or bottles until breastfeeding is established, usually after the first month of life. Introducing them before breastfeeding might cause “nipple confusion” and can lead to the infant giving up on the breast.