Both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding have their advantages. Because you need to make a decision now, let's consider each of them in turn. That way, you can make an informed choice.
Breastfeeding is better because:
- Your breast milk perfectly provides for your baby's nutritional needs.
- Your breast milk offers health benefits to your baby.
- You can get back in shape more quickly by breastfeeding.
- The physical act of nursing promotes bonding between you and your child.
- Breast milk is always available (as long as you are).
- Breast milk is cheaper.
On the other hand, bottle-feeding is better because:
- Both parents can participate equally in feeding and take advantage of this opportunity to bond with their child.
- The mother has more freedom in terms of scheduling, dieting, and sexuality.
- Both you and your baby will have an easier time if you need to return to work in the months after his birth.
- It provides good nutrition for your baby if you have a very rare medical condition that dictates against breastfeeding.
- You can avoid any uncomfortable feelings you may have concerning the physical nature of breastfeeding, especially in public.
To help you make the decision that's right for you, let's take a brief look at these arguments.
Breast Milk Is the Best Milk
The American Academy of Pediatrics hails breast milk as the perfect food for the first six months of your baby's life. Just right in its mix of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and minerals, breast milk also provides most of the vitamins your baby needs (though it does come up somewhat short in vitamins A, C, and D).
Amazingly, your breast milk adapts its composition from day to day to suit the changing needs of your baby. In the first few days, your baby needs colostrum-a somewhat thicker, high-protein, low-fat liquid. Over the next two weeks or so, the consistency of breast milk changes. The colostrum is gradually replaced with mature breast milk, which is more liquid and higher in fat and cholesterol. (Unlike adults, babies make good use of a diet high in cholesterol and fat. Your baby's rapidly growing body needs these nutrients for the proper development of the brain, nerve tissues, and cell membranes.)
Commercial formulas may have come increasingly close to duplicating the essential composition of human breast milk, but formula will never be able to adapt its composition from day to day to suit the particular needs of your child.
Breast Milk Protects Your Baby's Health
Breast milk helps to guard against many disease-causing agents. Your breast milk contains antibodies that can destroy bacteria, viruses, and other germs that can make your baby sick. Breast milk can ward off everything from strep throat and tetanus to measles and chicken pox. It may also increase your newborn's resistance to many allergens. Because only the human body produces antibodies, formula cannot provide this natural immunity from diseases.