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Baby Formula or Breast Milk - What is Better?

Baby Formula or Breast Milk - What is Better?

Most nursing or expecting mothers must have had this thought run high and low, as to what is better? Baby formula or breast milk? While the scales naturally have supported more or less both, the question still remains - is breast milk better than formula? Read on while we discuss some facts about the same to help you conclude.
Dhanashree Patane
It has been in the news and why - because of the controversial debate on breast milk vs baby formula. Are you amongst the curious too, who are still weighing the scales expecting a dip in either of the opinions. For most of the globe and research all over, mother's milk has always been the most recommended, and we all agree. But advertising and marketing has launched baby formula to a platform where it is convincing enough to confuse and create the space for thought on - is breast milk healthier than formula?
It is not only the marketing and food strategies that make the list, but recently after research claiming that 'breast milk is the best for the baby', another group of scientists and nutrition experts have claimed that, 'infant formula is as good as breast milk' and that the latter is no better than formulated milk. So what would you support?
Well, there are many reasons for the natural milk to conquer this debate, and if there has to be a straight answer on, is breast milk better than formula, then it would be yes, it is. Though this answer can be only justified on personal choice, like there are a number of reasons why breastfeeding is not possible for many nursing mothers and why they should opt for baby formula.
Comparing Breast Milk and Formula
It interests me much as, breast milk or formula, is merely an option with choice or the only option without choice. It should not be judging on the basis of mere comfort of the mother only, but of her health, nutrition and also the health of her baby. What seems convincing is, making the right choice which suits both the mother and the baby. We have enlisted some points that can help you understand better on both mother's milk and formula.
Breast Milk - Points to Consider
Breastfeeding is more than just milk and nutrition for the baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises breastfeeding the baby for the first six months after birth. And they also suggest to continue breastfeeding until 12 months or longer, with the consent of the mother and the baby too.
  • One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is the emotional touch and attachment of the mother and the baby.
  • Breast milk is developed as per the requirements of the baby, it changes as the baby grows. Experts say that the body produces milk in certain stages, like during the initial stages, it has more of colostrum, which is a liquid rich in antibodies, laxatives, high in nutrition and easily digestible. After a few months, a more mature quality of milk, is produced that completes more nutritional requirements as the baby grows.
  • The milk is high in antibodies, that prevents diarrhea, infections, meningitis and most importantly ear infections. In short breast milk will strengthen the immunity of the baby. This makes it a strong recommendation for premature babies.
  • Mother's milk is high in nutrients yet is easily digestible. It has higher carbohydrates and lactose. However, in case of proteins and minerals, formula milk is higher. Moreover it gives the baby nutrition from all types of foods, that the mother includes to make a healthy breastfeeding diet.
  • According to a research, breastfed babies were more active, healthy and higher in IQ than formula fed babies. It was also observed that the slow and steady nutrition pattern in this milk gave adequate nourishment to the baby which exposes them to lesser risks of obesity.
  • A study has also found out that mothers who breastfed their babies, were more confident and comfortable when taking care and handling the baby and post pregnancy issues. Nursing will help the mother burn calories, and also help the body to re-size faster, like the uterus may shrink faster. This will help the mother to get back to her healthy size.
  • There may be certain disadvantages of mother's milk. Well, we cannot term them so, literally. But certain aspects about breastfeeding like not being able to nurse the baby well, discomfort and timely feedings, as the baby tends to get hungry faster, may cause concern for some women.
  • The mother needs to strictly follow a healthy diet for good and complete nutrition to the baby. In case the mother is on certain medication, and is tested with certain medical conditions like HIV or cancer, then breastfeeding may not be all that safe for the baby.
Formula Feeding - Points to Consider
Formula feedings though recommended by some researchers that claim it to be as good as breast milk, have more to say than just nutrition in favor. The advantages come from all aspects for the mother mainly and the baby.
  • Formula milk is specially designed for babies to give total nutrition. This helps when nursing is not possible for the mother due to medical conditions or medication.
  • Certain medical conditions of the baby too may contribute to difficulty in nursing, like a birth defect or metabolism issues.
  • Certain social conditions and beliefs too may encourage formula feeding. If the mother is not comfortable, has to work for longer intervals, pumped breast milk is not sufficient for the baby, allergies, social and financial pressure etc., are also some conditions when formula feeding is beneficial.
  • Formula milk has a balanced amount of all necessary nutrients. Vitamins, high amount of minerals and proteins may make this superior to its counterpart.
  • Formula will keep the baby fuller for a longer time. Moreover the mother does not have to worry about her own diet to supplement her milk.
  • Well, we get the advantages, but formula comes with many drawbacks. Let's accept it, formula can never replace the intensity of nutrition in breast milk. It may be close, but it can never replace the immense number of antibodies.
  • Formula milk cannot be altered with the growth pattern and requirements of the baby, like breast milk gradually develops and changes in composition with the baby's growth.
  • Formula milk may not be completely and easily digested by the baby, this may lead to a disturbed balance in the gut of the baby. Formula milk may be on the expensive side and may also cause inconvenience at times, when you have to run to get supplies.
Most of the studies suggest mother's milk superior and most of us will agree too. Again the consideration is not against the women who are formula feeding the baby. They should not feel that they're on the wrong side of the coin by depriving the baby of nutrition from breastfeeding.
There is a thin line between formula feeding by choice and formula feeding with recommendation and no choice. This is where you have to judge, if the mother has no option, but to start formula feeding, due to the many reasons mentioned above in formula, there is nothing wrong in it. But when it is personal choice, and you can choose breastfeeding, go for it. There is nothing happier than being a mother and breastfeeding is one part of motherhood. Why would one want to deprive the baby of this healthy blessing? Think about it again, if you want, consult a pediatric in case of breastfeeding issues. Is breast milk better than formula? Well, with all the considerations, it's a yes!