Before the development of infant formula, breast milk was the number one food source for infants. Now, with commercially manufactured formula available in almost all industrialized countries, breastfeeding has taken a back seat to a bewildering array of formulas, powders and substitutes.
When you really consider the pros and cons of breastfeeding, it may seem incalculable as to why any woman would actually choose to go with formula if breastfeeding is an option. The most obvious reason being that one is free and the other is quite costly. Breast milk is something the body naturally produces after pregnancy and the subsequent delivery of the baby. You don’t have to go to the store and pay for it; it simply is there for your use.
Formula on the other hand comes in a variety of brands, with a number of inherent risks such as contamination and product sabotage, and unfortunately a very expensive price tag.
Even though all formulas must abide by FDA regulations, doesn’t mean that the product is the best available. Having a new baby already puts a strain on your bank account, so why would you increase that strain if you could choose to lessen it? Sometimes paying more for something doesn’t always mean it’s going to be better, after all.
Secondly, and although all formulas are regulated to insure the highest form of nutritional value, breastfeeding is hands-down the best source of food you can give your baby. It’s 100% natural, after all, and produced by you. It does not come into contact with any foreign objects or substances because it goes straight from your body to the baby’s mouth. It also has natural antibodies that no formula can replicate, and thus it gives your baby extra protection against germs. Your baby also regulates your breast milk supply so you never have to worry about overfeeding your child or running out!
The Convenience Factor
Another reason why breastfeeding can be considered superior to formula is its convenience. We discussed earlier the added expense that it can bring with just the cost of the formula itself, but we didn’t even mention bottles, brushes and nipples from the baby supplies store or drugstore that can all add up to some significant coinage as well. Along with these items comes the inconvenience factor of having to continuously wash and sanitize these products so that nothing that comes into contact with the baby is contaminated.
Breast milk on the other hand is always ready whenever you need it. There is no preparation involved, no bottles to clean and no reason to fret about sanitation. The convenience of breastfeeding has a lot of appeal that women all too easily forget in their drive to be ‘modern.’
Why Breastfeeding Bonds You With Baby
The fourth reason why breastfeeding has value is the bonding created between the skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding incurs. Of course you can still duplicate this while bottle-feeding, but there is a major difference when you are required to do it with breastfeeding and it’s just an option in regards to formula. It’s not to say that formula fed babies do not bond with their mother’s, but when a baby receives its nutrition from direct suckling from a mother’s breast there is a difference.
Weight Loss Benefits
Lastly, and probably the most selfish reason when choosing to breastfeed is weight loss. While nursing, chemicals are given off to help the uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size. This helps to quickly aid in a more desirable post-baby body.
Also breastfeeding (via the creation of milk) burns anywhere between 800-1200 calories a day depending upon the person and the baby’s dietary needs. This creates drastic weight loss and is a surefire way to get your body back to its pre-pregnant form.
Obviously, for women out there who for some reason cannot breastfeed or even in the rare situation that a baby cannot digest breast milk, formula is a wonderful and extremely necessary resource. However, if given a choice women should always know that breastfeeding is the preferred source of nutrition for a new baby, and that this statement is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.