Deciding to go for Breast Milk vs Formula
When you are pregnant, people will start asking you if you are planning on breastfeeding or using formula. First you have your own beliefs. Then you have your surrounding others who will give you their opinion.
When you are expecting twins, many of them are born prematurely and may end up spending time in the NICU so breastfeeding may not be possible. Bottles may be in some instances be the only option. Most pediatricians will agree that breast milk is preferable to formulas and we know that preemies need all the help they can get to ensure they receive the proper nutrients needed to grow up. At the same time, if you don’t want or can’t breastfeed, there is no point in feeling guilty about it. Formulas are a very healthy alternative.
Pros of Breastfeeding
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding as the best source of nutrients and even most when you have premature babies. The “first milk” produced by a woman is called colostrum largely and contains secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA). This antibody plays a crucial role in the immune function of the baby’s mucous membranes.
Breast milk contains antibodies (amongst many other elements) which help strengthen the immune system. That will help redugce the chances or catching diseases such as common cold, flu, stomach viruses, meningitis, ear infections and even diarrhea. It also contains vitamins, proteins and fat to ensure your baby’s healthy growth.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences did a research (1) in 2004 regarding the link between breastfeeding and Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This research concluded that breastfeeding your baby may decrease by 20% the risk of SIDS for babies between the age of 28 days to 1 year old.
There are other possible benefits to breastfeeding for the baby such as:
– A decrease in chances of developing food allergies (mainly due to the secretory immunoglobulin A)
– A decrease in risks of developing obesity and diabetes later on (study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (2))
– A boost in your baby’s intelligence (although there are contradictory researches on the matter)
Did you know that there are also benefits for the mother?
Yes breastfeeding is not only good for the baby but also for the mother. Studies have shown that breastfeeding your child may have a positive impact as it may:
– Reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes (study from JAMA internal medicine (3))
– Reduce the risks of some types of cancer (breast and ovarian cancers)
– Help you shed pounds gained during pregnancy
– Reduce your stress level and your risk of post-partum depression
Pros of Formula
If you choose not to breastfeed, you are not a bad mother! Many mothers decide for various reasons not to breastfeed. There is a whole generation of babies who weren’t breastfed (I’m one of them) and they turned out living long and healthy lives.
Some women can’t breastfeed for medical reasons, some because the process is too stressful. The important thing is that your baby must be fed by a loving mother. Not a stressed out mother….
There are some definite advantages to using formula, here are some of the most common:
– First, it is convenient to use. Just about anybody can feed a bottle to a baby. You can leave your babies with a relative, a friend or a caretaker and when they start crying, they will be fed even if you are not there. When you are trying to catch some sleep or when you have a doctor’s appointment, you don’t have to stress about it.
– Second, you can have a drink or two or three, blue cheese and seafood!!! When you are using formula, you don’t have to worry about your diet at all. There is nothing that you eat or drink that will be passed on through your milk.
– Third, formula is less digestible than breast milk so often, you will to feed your babies less often.
– Fourth, for some women, using formula is less stressful on some mothers than breastfeeding.
Why I Chose Breast Milk but not Breast Feeding
For many people, there are only 2 options: either you breastfeed or you give formula in a bottle. Yet, there is a third alternative, pumping your milk and feeding him with a bottle… Yes I know, it’s not the simplest solution but it might be the best for both you and your babies.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted to give breast milk to my babies but I didn’t want to breastfeed. The idea of having 2 tiny human beings entirely counting on me every 2-3 hours was scaring me to death. I wanted to be able to get more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep. On the other hand, I believe that breast milk is better for newborns whenever possible.
At least by pumping my milk and using bottles, my husband was able to help me with the feedings and I could get a bit of sleep. Yes I had to wake up to express my milk but I could just stay there, do nothing and the machine would work for me. My husband was very happy at my decision because he too could experience the feedings and spend quality time with the little ones. He felt included in the daily routine and took his role very seriously.
One Nurse Tried to Make me Feel Guilty About not Breastfeeding!
I had a c-section and when I came back to my room, I was anxious to see my babies. One was small (1470 gr or 3,2 lbs) and had to be put in an incubator and monitored. They brought me the “bigger” one (2130 gr or 4,7 lbs) first. Of course, I was still high on medication and I must say that since their were my first babies, I didn’t know much about breastfeeding. Let me just say that is wasn’t anything like I taught it would be. I had already bought my breast pump and knew what I wanted but I was overwhelm by the experience (and the hormones).
Then they brought the “little” one. For almost 45 mins, one nurse was trying to have me breastfeed her. It didn’t work at all, she was just too small. During that period, she made me feel like I was a “bad mom”. The head nurse came later and was furious that my little one was out of her incubator for so long. That was when I lost it. I was in tears because I didn’t know what to do and I felt bad about not being able to breastfeed.
My husband stepped in and told me that I was allowed to do whatever I wanted and not breastfeeding didn’t make me a bad mother….
My girls are now in school. I pumped milk for 6 months and then I used both food and formula. They are healthy, intelligent and happy 5 year old.
My Final Thought
I’m very happy about my decision and I never regretted it. You will be a great mom whether you breastfeed or not. If you enjoyed this post or if you have a question, please feel free to comment below.
(1) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, read here
(2) American Academy of Pediatrics, read here
(3) JAMA internal medicine, read here