do I decide whether to breast-feed or bottle-feed my baby?
Most women will probably think about this before
the actual birth. Many will be influenced by the experiences of those closest
to them, such as their own mother or their friends.
There are a lot of myths about breast and bottle-feeding.
The most important thing to do is become fully aware of the pros and cons of
both types of feeding. Then you can make an educated choice on which type will
best benefit both you and your baby.
It is important to note that if you are breast-feeding
but it doesn't seem to be working, you can switch to bottle-feeding. However
if you begin with bottle-feeding, you cannot later change to breast-feeding
because your breasts will stop producing milk if they are not stimulated by
should I consider breast-feeding?
- Breast milk is a complete food for every baby.
It contains exactly the right blend of nutrients and its composition constantly
changes to suit the baby's changing needs.
- It is easy for the baby to digest.
- Breast milk contains antibodies which help protect
the baby from disease. This is important in the first few months as the baby's
own anti-body forming system is still maturing. Bottle-feeding can not offer
this protection. (It is important to note that even if you only breast-feed
for a few days, you will still provide your baby with valuable antibodies
in that short space of time.)
- No special equipment is required. Breast milk
is always sterile and always at the correct temperature.
- Even if you are ill, you can still breastfeed
as this won't affect the baby. However illness may temporarily reduce your
milk levels. (If you have a general anaesthetic for whatever reason, you will
not be able to breast-feed for a few hours after, as the drugs will be passed
on to the baby.)
- Sucking is important for a baby. It is a distinct
need and it gives them pleasure. For this reason, breast-feeding may be more
enjoyable for the baby. When a bottle-feed is over, the bottle is removed.
However with breast-feeding, the baby usually decides when the feed is over.
This allows them to enjoy more sucking as well as milk. Because of the need
to suck, a quick breast-feed will often soothe a crying baby in the first
- Breast-fed babies are not usually overweight.
It is easier to overfeed a bottle-fed baby. Breastfeeding is free.
- Breast-fed babies tend to get less colic, eczema
and stomach bugs.
- Since breastfeeding is such a close, intimate
act, some women enjoy the experience because of the bond it brings between
them and their baby.
- From the mother's point of view, breastfeeding
stimulates contractions of the womb (uterus), helping it to return to normal.
should I consider bottle-feeding?
- Having a baby can be an extremely tiring time
for everyone involved. Bottle-feeding means your partner (or others) can take
turns feeding the baby, giving you a rest. This is especially helpful at night
as it allows the woman to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
- Being involved in feeding may also allow you
partner to develop a closer bond to the baby.
- You do not have to worry whether your baby is
getting enough milk or not because you can see how much they have had.
- If a woman has to go back to work or go somewhere
without her baby, breastfeeding becomes more difficult.
- While some women may find breastfeeding more
convenient because they don't have to carry bottles or equipment when they
go anywhere, others find it quite difficult to breastfeed in certain places,
for example in a restaurant. They may be uncomfortable breastfeeding in public
places and unfortunately the attitudes or comments of others may influence
- Breast milk can be temporarily reduced by illness,
stress or tiredness. This is not a problem for bottle-fed babies.
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