Breastfeeding vs. Formula – Which Is Better?

Deciding which method of feeding for your newborn can be a tough call. Breastmilk and formula both have their own pros, cons, similarities, and differences. All of which may cause some confusion when it comes time to make the decision. Down below, we’ll list the different sides of the breast milk versus formula discussion to help you make your choice.

Breastfeeding: Is it Right for Me?

Breastfeeding is a very popular option amongst mothers. It can be a unique bonding experience and can have significant nutritional benefits for your baby. Some of the benefits include:

  • It’s a Time Saver: Baby formula is infamous for the amount of time it takes to prepare. Even if you pre-bottle it, waiting for it to warm up and/or cool down can feel like an eternity. Even more so when the little one demands a snack at 3AM. With breastfeeding, you can avoid all that down time and get right to the feeding.
  • Health Benefits: Breastfeeding your newborn also comes with a slew of health benefits. Firstly, it can help reduce the stress on your baby’s digestive system. This can lower the chances of diarrhea and vomiting. Your breast milk also contains special antibodies that formula cannot replicate. These antibodies will help your newborn fight off various infections.
  • It’s a Perfect Match: Your breastmilk is specifically tailored to your baby’s needs. While nursing, your baby’s saliva carries chemicals through your nipple, telling your body what your baby needs. Your breastmilk is then adjusted to meet those needs. This process ensures that your breastmilk contains all the proper nutrients.
  • Availability: When choosing to breastfeed, the stress of running out of formula disappears. Similarly, if you’re in a situation where you’re nowhere near a store, or if they’re all closed for any reason, breastfeeding your baby will ensure they always have a reliable food source.

While this small list of pros may seem to outweigh any possible cons, there are some that should be considered:

  • Adjustment Period: During your first few days or weeks of breastfeeding, there’s a chance you will experience some discomfort or pain. This will usually subside with time as your baby and body become used to breastfeeding. If the pain or discomfort doesn’t ease up within a few weeks, it’s worth it to contact a breastfeeding specialist for help.
  • Parenting Imbalance: When breastfeeding, you’ll find that you’re the one doing most of the work, as newborns eat a lot and will most likely take up a large chunk of your day. This can be remedied by pumping. Feeding in shifts with your significant other can help ensure that the work is being done equally.
  • Diet Restrictions: For a lot of mothers, that first glass of wine after being pregnant for nine months is like a pot of gold. If you plan to breastfeed, however, you’ll need to be careful when timing that drink while breastfeeding. There are some foods you should avoid during breastfeeding, such as raw meat, certain seafoods, and alcohol. This also includes certain medications. Be sure to let your doctor know that you plan to breastfeed.

Formula-feeding: Is it Right for Me?

While formula-feeding may be the less popular option amongst most mothers, it’s still a reliable source of nutrients for your baby, so don’t feel like you’re making a bad choice going with formula. Together, let’s walk through some of the pros and cons of formula-feeding:

  • Accessibility: While formula may not be as “ready to go” as breastmilk is, it’s still available at almost any grocery store you can enter. This is very handy for families on vacation or on a road trip. On top of that, there’s also physical and online stores specifically for baby food and other related items.
  • Balanced Routine: The biggest con of breastfeeding is that it’s always the mother doing the feeding. With formula-feeding, it’s easier to set shifts between you and your significant other. This helps ensure a healthy, balanced routine. And this way, it’s not always you that has to wake up for the little one’s late-night snack.
  • Discomfort-free: The pain and/or discomfort that comes with breastfeeding, at least in the first few weeks, can be a lot to deal with. But with formula-feeding, that adjustment period does not apply to you.

Some of the drawbacks of formula-feeding are:

  • No Special Antibodies: One of the biggest pros of breastfeeding is all the amazing antibodies that come with it. This, unfortunately, cannot be replicated.
  • Digestive Issues: Digestive issues are quite common in formula-fed babies. This can result in bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Pricing: Baby formula is notorious for its volatile pricing. And for many people, it can be too expensive. Furthermore, the cost of bottle-feeding accessories will certainly build up over time.

Which One is Better?

Based purely upon the pros and cons, breastfeeding is the better option. Most importantly, it’s available anytime, anywhere. Secondly, the special antibodies that you share with your baby are invaluable and cannot be replicated as we previously mentioned. Just these two pros alone make breastfeeding the clear choice.

However, it’s important to note that not all mothers are able to breastfeed adequately, or maybe don’t feel comfortable doing it. In this case, don’t feel bad about having to choose the latter here. As we stated above, formula is still a valuable source of nutrition for your baby.

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