Breastfeeding is the most natural, and usually the easiest, way to feed your baby. Most moms have no
issues with milk supply, and with adequate family and community support, can have a beautiful
breastfeeding relationship that lasts as long as she and baby desire. Experienced breastfeeding moms
were polled as to their reasons for choosing to breastfeed. If you’re on the fence about breast vs
formula feeding, here are their top five reasons.
1. “It’s just easier and I got more sleep at night!”
Baby’s feeding schedule can be quite varied, because let’s face it, when you feed according to
his cues, rarely does that come at regular intervals. When baby is hungry, the need is instant and
those wee ones aren’t the most patient creatures in the world! If you were formula feeding,
you‘d have to find a sterilized bottle, warm the water to the right temperature, very carefully
measure the formula with carefully washed hands in order to prevent contaminating the
container with bacteria, mix it up, then feed your little one.
When you breastfeed, it is always available to your baby, whether that’s a feed in the middle of
the night, or in the middle of a road trip. When baby lets you know she’s hungry, you have a
supply of perfectly-warmed milk, in adequate supply, with no waiting time required. Need to go
run a quick errand with minimal fuss? No problem! Grab an extra diaper, your baby, and you’re
ready to go!
Nighttime is truly when the advantages are seen, as sleep deprivation can be one of the most
difficult parts of the postpartum period and first year. When you are able to just reach for your
baby in the middle of the night, snug them into you and contentedly nurse without needing to
fully rouse yourself and interrupt your sleep patterns, you can return to full sleep more quickly
and feel more rested the next day.
2. Money saving
It doesn’t take much reasoning to understand that breastfeeding, at its most basic level, is truly
the most cost-effective way to feed your baby. Created by your body and only dependent on the
food and water you consume, it costs nothing. Additional expenses to help the breastfeeding
experience could be: lactation consultant visits, manual or electric breast pump, breast pads for
the inevitable leaks, and possibly nursing bras.
When you crunch the numbers on the cost of formula alone, you could pay upwards of $3,000+
a year, not to mention bottles and other needed equipment.
3. Nutritional quality
There is much to be said for nature when it comes to nutritional excellence. Perfectly designed
to meet the hydration, fat, caloric, protein, and mineral needs of your baby, it also creates a
lessened exposure to heavy metals and toxins, which can be present in formulas.
Not only is breastmilk balanced and perfect for all babies, but it’s also engineered for each baby – the
formulation changes with baby’s age, and even in the presence of illness. During a feed, baby’s
saliva enters the breast and alerts mom’s body as to any needed antibodies, which are made by
mom and passed back to the baby in subsequent feeds. It is truly amazing!
Another beauty of breastmilk is the flavor profiles it obtains, based on the variety of foods you
eat! By having a healthy diet, rich with different food, you expose baby to each of those
different flavors, getting them accustomed to foods they will one day eat themselves. Not only
does it prevents feeds from being a boring, bland thing, but it helps prevent picky eaters.
Life can be a hectic thing, and nobody knows that more than a busy mom. Every time you sit
down to nurse your baby is a chance to catch your breath, look at your little one, and feel those
hormones flowing! This doesn’t mean that every single nursing session is a beautifully romantic
thing, because let’s be real, it doesn’t always come at a convenient time, sometimes you’re
terribly sleep deprived and just want to close your eyes, and latch issues can really make nursing
difficult for some mom/baby dads. But even in the middle of the difficult parts, those moments
where baby looks you in the eye, sometimes breaking into a smile as they get older, releases
hormones that help in your mothering journey and creates a feeling of safety for baby, which
studies show helps them later in life, both emotionally and psychologically.
If circumstances dictate bottle or formula feeding your little one, don’t despair. These benefits
are possible for you too! Be intentional. Look in his eyes, talk to him, look up “paced bottle
feeding” to maximize the nursing-type experience, snuggle during feeds, and be present.
5. Long term health benefits for mom and baby
If you’ve ever been concerned about bacteria on your skin, or nursing an immune-compromised
little one (like a premature baby), don’t be! Colostrum, the first milk baby gets after birth, acts
as a primer, coating the porous gut and preventing bacteria from causing infections and “leaky
gut”. Studies show that breastmilk has the ability to kill bacteria. Not only is it good for baby’s
entire digestive system, but it is also cleansing for her sinuses, nasal passages, and even
Eustachian tubes, as it naturally gets into all those passages during feeds, thus helping prevent
colds and ear infections.
Long term health benefits of breastfeeding for baby include: significantly lower rates of
gastrointestinal illnesses, a lowered risk of diabetes, childhood cancers and obesity, and a
healthier immune system response to all the things that life throws their way. It also helps their
palates and jaws form correctly, which can prevent sleep apnea and a need for orthodonture
later in life.
Health benefits for mom include: a reduced risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and
coronary disease which gets lower the longer she breastfeeds, reduced cancer risk, lowered
rates of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, and just like baby, a lowered rate of Type 2
diabetes and obesity.