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For new moms, the option between feeding your child with either breast milk or formula milk tends to be a never-ending debate. Moms with health issues or simply have no time to express breast milk for their babies opt for formula feeding. It's an acceptable option, after all. Formula milk is manufactured to be similar to breast milk, as they both provide energy, hydration and nutrients, thus babies will grow whichever feed they are given. But is it truly an answer to replace breastfeeding? On this week's journal, we will be discussing some pointers if breastfeeding is preferable than formula milk and why you should be considering it. Read on!
1. It's natural
Cow’s milk, from which most formula is made, meets the specific needs of calves. It’s initially not safe for human babies to drink; research has shown that the sodium content in cow’s milk is pretty much at toxic levels for babies before they're being processed. Therefore, it has to be processed intensively when made into formula for infants.
Despite the advances in how baby milk powder is formulated and manufactured, it doesn’t come close to matching the health benefits of your breast milk. Human milk still is going to be the perfect food for human babies. It’s much more complex than other mammals’ milk, as it builds our more complex brains, as well as nurturing the digestive and immune systems.
2. Breast milk's protective properties are far more complex than formula milk
From colostrum that coats and seals your newborn’s stomach lining, to mature milk that helps your baby grow strong, each drop of the breast milk contains thousands of beneficial components. These includes antibodies, hormones, stem cells, white blood cells, prebiotics, fatty acids, enzymes and beneficial bacteria to keep your baby healthy. These components help protect babies from illneses, supports their organ development, protects the digestive system, builds their immunity, to regulating their appetite and sleep-wake patterns.
Moreover, breastmilk adapts to your baby’s changing circumstances. For example, if your baby becomes ill, your body makes extra white blood cells and antibodies that travel into your milk and help fight infection.
Compare it to a typical baby formula milk, which is made of processed skimmed cow’s milk with added emulsifiers and stabilisers to help the oils and water mix when you make up the feed. It may also contain, lactose, plant-based oils, fatty acids, enzymes and amino acids, as well as vitamins and minerals.
3. Promotes bonding in both mother and child
Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced soon after birth and during breastfeeding. It assists with milk flow from the breasts. Oxytocin is also responsible to promote bonding and mothering behaviors, something that can't be replaced with formula feeding. Without breastfeeding, the mother will have less oxytocin, which means less of a sense of bonding, affection, and stress-reduction.
4. Gives health benefits
When a baby is young, its immune system is functional but is not sensitized to and prepared for many of the common bacteria or viruses. Parts of the immune system response, called immunoglobulins are passed from the mother’s immune system to the baby through breast milk and give the baby a temporary immunity to the things the mother has become sensitized to. It is called 'passive' because it is not an immunity that the baby has created, but it has been given to the baby.
Breastfeeding also gives a heap of benefits for the mother, including faster weight loss after birth, promotes bonding with child, produces the naturally soothing hormones oxytocin and prolactin that promote stress reduction to lowering risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the long run.
5. Breastfeeding is more cost-effective
While breast milk comes completely free, there are still accessories like breast pump to milk bottles that are optional to be used during nursing. However, when you compare it with formula milk, it certainly does not come cheap. In fact, it's usually the greatest expense for a formula fed baby during the first year. While you may or may not need bottles if you are breastfeeding, you will definitely need them if you are not. In fact, you will probably need a lot more of them. Therefore, figuratively, you'll be saving more money by exclusively breastfeeding your baby.