Infant feeding is one of the most important topics for parents and health advisers. “Breast feeding vs. Bottle feeding” is a huge debate amongst many families and parents. Parents struggle to come to an appropriate consensus when decide upon the type of feeding they wish to nurture their child with. With the consideration of the pro’s and con’s, parents and, specifically, mothers need to be more educated about the different types of infant feeding prior to making their final decision.
Parents need to realize that a mother’s breast-milk is practically a necessity for infants. Breast milk is a natural fluid which provides the best natural nutrition to a child. The colostrum, which is a form of breast milk that is yellow and produced by the mother in her early stages of breast-feeding, is a must for every child after birth. Breast milk holds the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and provides minerals, vitamins, digestive enzymes, and hormones that newborns need. Children that are nurtured with breast-milk have better cognitive and motor skills. Breast-fed babies are less prone and have lower risks of being diagnosed with leukemia, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, heart infections, and also have stronger immune systems than babies who are not breast fed. They also have lower chances of getting diarrhea and respiratory infection. Breast-milk contains omega-3 fatty acids which has similar benefits as fish consumption, making it a major contributor in child development.
Mothers who breastfeed their babies have lower risks of breast, ovarian, and cervical cancers than mothers who don’t breastfeed. They also lose weight faster and are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life. Breastfeeding provokes uterine contractions for the mother, thus helping the uterus shrink back to pre-pregnancy size in a shorter time frame. Families with the mother breastfeeding the child, avoid expenses and inconveniences that they would have to spend or overcome, otherwise. Overall, breastfeeding benefits both child and mother immensely. These benefits tend to persuade families that breast-feeding is not only the best choice but, moreover, the only choice. There are many cases where mothers are unable to breastfeed their child and, when they continue to do so, are faced with a crisis which can include nipple soreness, breast engorgement, the “let-down reflex”, leaking breasts difficulty knowing how much milk the baby is drinking.
Some mothers and parents choose bottle-feeding as an infant-feeding method over breast-feeding. These mothers are too busy with their other household demands, career, and social life. They don’t have the time to breast feed and find bottle feeding as, an alternative method, simpler, and easier for their baby and themselves. Bottle feeding is a good alternative for mothers who experience intolerable pain from breast-feeding and want no contact with their breasts.
Generally, bottle-feeding is not advised or looked upon positively by many doctors and health advisers. Baby Formula product companies try to imitate breast milk compounds and antibodies by adding chemicals and artificial products but fail at the attempt. Formulas are lacking the natural nutrients and babies are more prone to long term disabilities and slow development. Babies that are bottle-fed begin life with nutritional deficiencies that may lead to health and obesity in the long run. Infants that are formula-fed are more prone to immunity loss and low IQ compared to infants who are breast-fed. Laura Wilwerding, a university clinical assistant pediatric professor states that “Worldwide, formula fed infants are at 25 times higher risk of dying from diarrhea illness, four times higher risk of dying from pneumonia, and five times higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome”. Infants who are bottle fed and not breast-fed properly experience death at a earlier stage and end up contributing to infant mortality. Bottle-feeding is also a costly method of infant-feeding and may jeopardize a family, financially. Bottle feeding comes with consequences and negative side effects, regardless, many people seem to be under pressure when it comes to deciding on a type of infant feeding method.
Societies build an environment where women are strongly directed to breast-feed in any situation or circumstance. Society never mentions the fact that mothers who feel pain while breast-feeding slightly become distant with their child in terms of “bonding” because they want to continue to emphasize the importance of breast-feeding and pressure mothers. In contrast, many families are pressured by society to bottle-feed for status and standards purposes. Some families feel pressured to breast-feed for emotional purposes and for “bonding”. Many families believe that breast-feeding brings the child and the mother closer; conversely bottle-fed infants are not as close to their mothers. The theory of bonding between the mother and child through breast feeding is only a theory or, moreover, an overrated assumption by people. Some families also feel pressured, financially, and there’s a wide line between the two social statuses: the rich and the poor. The poor are the ones who breast-feed and the rich are the ones buying the formula for bottle-feeding. Some families feel the need to bottle-feed to meet the standards of other families and to represent their wealth and high income proving they bottle-feed because they can afford to while avoiding the trouble of breast-feeding . They need moral support and better guidance to help them make the right decisions.
In order to make the right decisions and choices, breast-feeding shouldn’t be forced and formula feeding shouldn’t be promoted. Bottle-feeding is promoted a little too much in the marketing industry, jeopardizing the health of many mothers and breast-feeding is advised and forced upon mothers a little too often. Doctors need to advise mothers on how they can properly breastfeed the child but not that they must and have to breast-feed their child. Recently, some places already started acknowledging this issue and are realizing that instead of telling the parents what to do and making the decisions for them, they need to guide them on making their own decisions for themselves and their well-being for the baby and the family. Gottesman, N., editor and writer for ‘Shape’ magazine says “That’s our goal here, too: not to force you to breastfeed or to make you feel guilty if you decide not to, but to educate you“. This is what society and mainly parents need: awareness and help on making the right decisions about infant-feeding.
By: Kubara Contractor