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To Nurse Or Not To Nurse? Deciding On Breast vs. Bottle

palmer's mom and baby

From what I hear, there are very strong opinions about many aspects of pregnancy and baby care. Nursing, which is also known as breastfeeding, is one of those controversial issues. It’s a very personal decision, and there’s no clear right or wrong. You’ll need to take into account benefits to physical and mental health, your family, work, finances, convenience, and your ability to breastfeed.

Many new mothers have a hard time deciding between breast and bottle. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re well-informed before your baby arrives, so here’s some information on the pros and cons of the different options to get you started. 

Breastfeeding

The World Health Organization (WHO), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the NHS recommend that you feed your baby exclusively on breast milk for the first six months. If you do choose to breastfeed, your doctor will probably recommend that you continue for as long as you feel comfortable. The longer you breastfeed, the greater the health benefits for you and your baby.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby:
  • Breast milk is designed to meet your baby’s needs, with long-term benefits for your baby that last into adulthood.

  • As your baby grows, breast milk adapts to meet the baby's changing needs.

  • Breast milk protects babies from infections and illnesses, which may include diarrhoea and vomiting, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukaemia, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

  • Breastfeeding strengthens the baby’s immune system, helping to protect against ear infections, pneumonia, and bacterial and viral infections.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother:
  • Breastfeeding can help you bond with your baby.

  • Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

  • It helps your uterus shrink back to pre-pregnancy size more quickly.

  • It burns extra calories that can lead to weight loss.

  • It delays the return of your period, which can help to prevent an iron deficiency after you give birth.

  • Breast milk is free; pumps, bottles, formula, and other bottle-feeding products cost money.

  • Breast milk doesn’t require any preparation. It’s ready when your baby is ready to feed.

Drawbacks of breastfeeding:
  • You may feel discomfort, particularly during the first few feedings.

  • You might find that your nipples are sore and cracked. Cocoa butter, Vitamin E and Pro Vitamin B5 can help, just make sure to use a specially formulated remedy that’s safe for you and your baby.

  • There’s no way to measure how much your baby is eating.

  • Because some things pass to the baby through your milk, you’ll need to be careful about the medications you use, and your caffeine and alcohol intake.

  • Newborns eat frequently, so it may be difficult to breastfeed if you go back to work.

Bottle-feeding

Bottle-feeding means feeding your baby breast milk or formula from a bottle. If you choose to pump and bottle-feed with breast milk, your baby still gets the same nutrients. Formula is manufactured, and while it’s regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and it contains lots of nutrients, it’s still not a perfect match for breast milk.

You may be unable to breastfeed for medical reasons. Some women find it very painful, or they struggle to produce enough milk. Your schedule may not allow the flexibility you need in order to breastfeed.

Benefits of bottle-feeding:
  • A family member or caretaker can feed your baby.

  • You can see how much your baby is eating at each feeding.

  • Babies who drink formula don’t need to feed as often as breastfed babies.

  • Fathers and other family members get the chance to bond with the baby during feeding time.

  • If you use formula, you don’t need to worry about how medications you’re taking or your diet will affect the baby.

  • Formulas continue to improve, and they’re now better at matching ingredients to the proportions in human breast milk.

  • While breastfed babies may experience fewer infections, whether babies are breastfed or bottle-fed, the vast majority of them won't get a serious infection in their first months.

Drawbacks of bottle-feeding:
  • Formula doesn’t provide the same protection against infections as breast milk.

  • You need to mix and prepare formula to make sure it’s the correct temperature.

  • Bottles, formula, rubber nipples, and breast pumps can be expensive.

  • Formula can cause digestive trouble like constipation and gas.

The best mother is a happy, unstressed mother, so choose the option that works for you and your baby. If you’re having trouble making a decision, please talk to your doctor or a lactation professional.

palmer's pregnancy product range

About Palmer's

Founded more than 175 years ago as one of America's first skin care companies, E.T. Browne Drug Co., Inc. is a leader in treatment-oriented beauty products with its trusted Palmer's® brand. Today, there’s a cocoa butter product for every skincare need – face, body, stretch marks, mother-baby, hair care and bath.  

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