One decision every new mother has to make is how she is going to feed her child. She has two options, she can feed her child with formula or she can breastfeed. That is it, two little options. Two little options that can insight anger and arguments in otherwise rational people. How a women feeds her child is a very sensitive decision and a decision I feel is nobody’s business but her own. I am not writing this post to belittle any women who use formula to feed their child, I am writing this post to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding and to discuss why I chose to breastfeed both of my children. So here goes…
The health benefits of breastmilk are numerous. Breastmilk is specifically tailored to feed a human baby and contains all the protein and nutrients that a growing infant needs. Study after study have found that infants who are breastfed have fewer allergies, lower incidences of asthma and possibly higher IQs than formula fed babies. Breastmilk also contains antibodies, produced by the mother and passed through breastmilk to the infant, that help protect against illness while the child’s immune system is still immature and developing. The health benefits are just one reason I chose to breastfeed my children.
As a frugal mother I didn’t want to pay for formula. Let’s face it, formula is expensive, breastfeeding your child will save you money. One can of basic powder formula costs approximately $15 with specialty and organic varieties costing as much as $25-30 per can. At $15 per can, one can per week would cost a mother $780 per year. From what I understand the average infant goes through a can every 3-5 days or 2 cans a week. This increases the annual cost of formula to $1560. The annual cost of breastmilk? Zero. (If you are a working mother you will have the cost of a good breast pump and supplies, an average annual cost of less than $400.)
Breastfeeding can also be very convenient. When my child would cry in the middle of the night I wouldn’t have to fumble around in the kitchen at 3 am to get a bottle ready. When my child would fuss while we were running errands I would simply throw on a nursing cover and feed them. No measuring formula, warming up bottles or messy clean up after.
With all of the benefits discussed it is only fair to mention that there are cons to breastfeeding. One of the biggest cons for many women is that when you breastfeed it becomes difficult to be separated from your child. Even with pumping you have to plan ahead to make sure you have enough milk to feed your child. You also have to watch your diet and may have to eliminate favorite foods if they upset your infant’s digestive system. The same goes for alcohol, which can pass through breastmilk to your child. I found, for me, the benefits out weighed the sacrifices I would have to make.
A final note. While breastfeeding is completely natural it isn’t always something that comes easy to every mother. Breastfeeding can be painful and can come with complications. When a mother doesn’t have help and support she may feel overwhelmed and decide not to breastfeed because of it. We all have to do what works for us and our families and should never pass judgement on a mother because of how she nourishes her infant. We’re all just doing the best we can.
- Baby Center – Breastfeeding Basics
- Kellymom – Breastfeeding & Parenting
- La Leche League