Naturally, your body is prepared to breastfeed your baby. This is why your breasts increase in volume and size during pregnancy and swell up with milk after birth. They will even start producing some whenever you hear a baby cry or if you smell one. It is, however, not compulsory that you breastfeed – many mothers have raised their children successfully and healthily without feeding them an ounce of breastmilk. There are plenty of reasons why some women choose not to breastfeed their children. This article discusses the benefits and disadvantages of breastfeeding so you can make a conscious choice for you and your baby:
PROS OF BREASTFEEDING
1. BEST NUTRITION FOR YOUR BABY
Breast milk contains all the nutrients necessary for the baby’s growth and development before they are ready for weaning. It contains antibodies that are very crucial in fighting off infections and keeping the baby healthy during their first few months of life. The colostrum produced also boosts the baby’s digestive system, and scientists have found that breastfeeding babies may have a higher IQ.
Some of these qualities cannot be found in formula milk. The latter is made to taste and resemble breast milk as much as possible but some naturally occurring elements such as the antibodies cannot be manufactured.
2. BENEFICIAL FOR YOUR HEALTH
When you breastfeed, you body takes it as a sign that it is ready to get back to its pre-pregnancy size. It also helps to burn some calories which would be very helpful if you are trying to lose some weight. Scientists have also found that it helps to lower the chances of developing diseases and conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer. It also delays your periods which helps to prevent loss of iron in blood which could eventually lead to anemia. Research has also concluded that breastfeeding moms are at a lower risk of getting postpartum depression after delivery compared to those who do not, a condition that is which is very common among women after childbirth. Furthermore, it helps the body release hormones like oxytocin which helps you and the baby bond through breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a very convenient way of feeding the baby. You don’t need to go out and find the right type for the baby or spend money on lactation experts or buy breast pumps or other accessories. You don’t need to store the milk and pack it carefully to bring it with you. All you have to do is find a comfortable place to sit and feed your baby.
4. WILL NOT BE REJECTED BY THE BABY
Babies take to breastmilk naturally and will not reject it like they may some brands of formula. They like the taste and it is bound to become their favorite food from the first time they taste it.
5. ALLOWS BONDING
As mentioned earlier, breastfeeding allows you to bond with your baby. It triggers the production of certain hormones which bind the baby to you.
CONS OF BREASTFEEDING
1. TIES YOU TO THE BABY
If you decide to breastfeed the baby, it means that you will need to be around them all the time so you can feed them when they are hungry. This may be a bit inconvenient especially if you are a working mom. The alternative would be to pump out some milk with a breast pump and store it for later but that takes away some benefits like bonding with the baby. Stored milk may also lose some of the nutrients.
2. CAN BE PAINFUL
Breastfeeding can also be pretty painful especially for first-time mothers. Pregnancy and giving birth trigger a surge of hormones which will leave the nipples feeling very tender and sore. The colostrum may also be very thick which could cause a little pain the first time you try to breastfeed. Also, the baby could start nibbling on the tender nipple when they feed.
3. MAY BE UNCOMFORTABLE AWAY FROM HOME
You may have seen how people look at women who breastfeed in public and hoped that you would never have to be in those shoes ever. Well, the day comes when you are out with the baby and they won’t stop crying and you know well that it is because they are hungry and you have no choice but to find a spot to sit and feed them. If you are the modest type, you will have a very hard time choosing to feed the baby over making strangers uncomfortable.
4. LIMITS BABY’S BOND TIME WITH PARTNER
Seeing as your partner won’t be able to breastfeed the baby, you will be spending most of the time with the child. You can always improvise to balance this, for instance, by pumping some milk to a feeding bottle and letting them feed the baby. This, however, will never be as effective as the baby feeding directly from you. It will therefore limit the amount of time your partner spends with the baby.
5. REQUIRES CAREFUL EATING CHOICES
You know that whatever you eat or drink goes to the breastmilk. If you take coffee, the baby is taking coffee too. If you drink alcohol, the breastmilk will probably taste like a shot of whiskey neat too. You, therefore, need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet for you and the baby. This means that until you start weaning them fully, you can only eat whatever you want to run in your baby’s system.
In conclusion, you should assess all these pros and cons before making a decision on whether to breastfeed your baby or not. Health authorities such as the WHO recommend that you for at least the first two months before changing course for the sake of the baby’s health. If you are considering other options, be sure to check them with your doctor first. Meanwhile, here’s some good support for mom during pregnancy and breastfeeding.