To breastfeed or not to breastfeed... That is the question. As a pregnant mum you’ve probably heard a million and one opinions whether you should breastfeed your baby or use a bottle. It is a very personal decision. Whichever you choose, you should always bear in mind that feeding your baby is very important for various reasons. It connects the baby with the mother and creates that special meaningful bond.
Let's have a look at different benefits and challenges of breastfeeding.
A lot of studies have shown that breastfeeding can have an impact on a child’s development and educational achievement. According to UNICEF children who are breastfed have slightly higher IQs. Why? Mother's milk contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for brain growth. As stated by the Guardian, breastfed babies are also more likely to be successful in their adulthood.
Firstly, breast milk is specifically formulated for newborn babies, which means it contains all the required nutrition. In fact, the content of the milk changes on a daily basis to ensure your baby gets enough fats and proteins. Secondly, breast milk protects your baby from germs and infections. It contains specific antibodies and cells that prevent diseases and allergies. It's been said that babies who are fed with formula are more likely to be ill in the first two months of their life.
Breastfeeding releases hormones that calm the baby and give the feeling of security and closeness. It creates a special bond between mother and baby. In fact, breastfed babies have a lower chance of experiencing abuse and neglect. Interestingly, studies also have shown that breastfed babies are more likely to be independent in their adult lives.
Studies also demonstrate that breastfeeding gives significant health benefits for mums too. It lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and even depression. Finally, breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day, which can help in losing weight after the birth.
Many organizations and research facilities highly recommend breastfeeding, stating that it can be beneficial in a child's development. However studies also discovered that breastfeeding increases the risk of asthma. Unfortunately a lot of women who simply cannot breastfeed feel guilty about it. They certainly shouldn't. Formula has been designed to replicate the mother's milk containing all of the same nutritional benefits. Using a bottle can be convenient as the mother doesn't have to be the only one to feed the baby and both parents can share feeding duties equally.
Although research shows that breastfeeding has a positive impact on a child's future and health, a new report (featured on NHS website) suggests that there is no significant difference between breastfed and bottle-fed babies. The study looked at children from the same family who had been fed differently (breast and a bottle) and found similar outcomes in their development.
Making the decision whether to breastfeed or not can be difficult. However remember that whichever option you choose, the most important thing is that your baby is well fed and loved.