To breastfeed or not to breastfeed?
As we recognize World Breastfeeding Week’s 2017, breast versus bottle is a hot discussion point in the UK, which has one of the poorest breastfeeding rates in the world, despite many campaigns in recent years. Some scientists claim that bottle feeding is as healthy as breast milk, while others strongly disagree. Nearly 80 percent of women in the UK breastfeed for the period immediately after the birth of the baby, but only 0.5 percent are still breast-feeding when their baby is twelve months. Many opt for bottle feeding, often because of medical reasons. Breast or bottle, you have to do what’s right for you at the end of the day.
Breast milk versus bottle feeding
Breast milk is undoubtedly the healthiest food for the baby. It contains antibodies that protect the baby against infection. Medical advice is to breastfeed for at least 6 months.
Some women would love to breastfeed, but for various reasons, it is just not possible or practicable to breastfeed. For example, the mother might not produce enough breast milk might be in decline, or the baby may be unable to latch on properly. The mother might use medicines that are not good for the baby so infant formula is a necessity. Don’t feel guilty if breast-feeding does not work or you just don’t like it. Nowadays, infant formula is very good quality and must meet international standards. It is a good alternative if breast-feeding is not possible.
Benefits of breastfeeding for children
Less likely to be overweight and asthmatic
According to the WHO, breastfeeding is better for the child. Research has shown that breast milk protects the child from certain viral infections. In addition, breastfeeding babies may also have a lower risk of becoming overweight and asthmatic.
It was formerly believed that breastfeeding also has a preventive effect on eczema but the evidence for this is less strong according to the WHO.
Breastfeeding benefits for mothers
Less risk of diabetes and high blood pressure
Your baby isn’t the only one to benefit from the health benefits of breast-feeding, it also has a positive effect on your own body. A study has previously demonstrated that breast-feeding mothers are less likely to have diabetes, rheumatism and high blood pressure.
Less chance of heart attack
Recently, a British study showed that breast-feeding mothers are 8 percent less likely to suffer a stroke and nine percent less likely to develop heart disease, an effect which increases over time. The study showed that if breast-feeding continues for a minimum of two years, the subjects had 17 percent less chance of stroke and 18 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
Breastfeeding is also better for your mental health
Breast-feeding is also linked to lower rates of post natal depression. A 2014 study of 10,000 women found that breastfeeding mothers were 50 percent less likely to develop PND than those who bottle fed.
Why is breastfeeding good for the body?
Why is your body so well protected by breastfeeding? According to lead researcher Sanne Peters (University of Oxford), it may be because it boosts the metabolism. Breastfeeding causes the fat stored during pregnancy to be consumed more quickly and completely after a pregnancy. Peters adds that breastfeeding mothers may also maintain a healthier lifestyle. This also contributes to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
A mothers mental health
Breastfeeding has, in addition to the positive effect on the health of mother and child, many practical advantages:
-Breastfeeding is free
-Breast milk is always available
-Breast milk is always at the right temperature
-Breastfeeding uses a lot of energy, so you can quickly return to your old weight
Disadvantages of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding does have some disadvantages:
As a mother, you must always be available. If you want to return to work or go out, then a breast pump is the answer – however many women can find it to be a challenge to use these.
You might not produce enough breastmilk, so your baby might fail to thrive. If you have problems with breastfeeding, a lactation consultant can help and advise you.
It’s hard to see how much your baby has drunk compared to a bottle, although babies are usually very good at letting you know their needs!
You might suffer from cracked nipples, mastitis and thrush. You can try to prevent this, for example, by wearing cotton bras or clothes, wearing a maternity bra while sleeping. Don’t use soap when washing your breasts after breastfeeding, just use a drop of milk on your nipple. There are several treatments that can alleviate the symptoms.
What are your breastfeeding experiences?
Sources: WHO, Cam.ac.uk, mentalhealth.org.uk/projects/mums-and-babies-mind