Should I Breastfeed My Baby?

First time mothers-to-be have so many questions about the birth of their babies and concerns over whether or not they’ll know what to do when the time comes. Some mothers are afraid to bathe their babies for the first time while others are afraid to sleep at night because they want to be assured their infants don’t succumb to SIDS. New moms question literally everything from the best type of diapers to the safest car seats, and rightfully so. However, one question which bears special attention is when they ask, “Should I breastfeed my baby?”

Mother Knows Best

While there are both advantages and disadvantages that should be considered, the only one who can answer that question is mom herself. Sure, dad has some input but it is mom who will need to cope with sitting for extended periods of time while baby nurses and mom who will experience changes in her body. It is mom who will need to alter her diet and eating habits for the duration and mom who will need to suffer a bit of discomfort when weaning baby from breastfeeding. Even though she can express milk to be refrigerated for a later feeding with a bottle, it is mom who will need to do the pumping. These are the first things that will need to be carefully considered.

Healthful Benefits of Breastfeeding

However, there is nothing like mother’s milk when it comes to baby’s health. There are a number of good formulas on the market, but none of them can compare to the nutritional components of mom’s milk and none of them can provide immunity to a number of infections and diseases like mom’s milk. While it is recommended that a child nurse until he/she reaches the age of 12 to 24 months and is ready to be weaned, many moms choose to breastfeed their babies for at least the first 6 to 8 months simply to provide that immunity baby so needs. Statistics also indicate that breastfed babies have less gastrointestinal distress which translates to less colic and spitting up. Also, for those of you worried about SIDS, the ratio is an astounding 87:3 formula fed babies to breastfed babies that account for all instances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. And besides all that, breastfed babies develop stronger, healthier teeth. If health is an issue, this is plenty to go on!

Breastfeeding and Bonding

One of the reasons which many moms choose to breastfeed their babies is for that time of bonding. Nothing creates a stronger bond between mom and her newborn child than providing the warmth of such close contact while baby’s hunger is assuaged. The suckling is all important to an infant, and although baby does mimic the act of nursing when being fed a bottle, it isn’t quite the same experience for him/her. Is there any way to compare even the softest manufactured nipple to mom’s breast? But if you are concerned that dad won’t get that time of bonding in, mom can always express some milk for dad to have his go at feeding baby with a bottle to spend that time with baby as well. (In fact, many dads can help by taking turns with those 2AM feedings so mom can get a good night’s sleep once in a while as well!)

Breastfeeding When Returning to Work

Sometimes mothers work outside the home and only have a very limited maternity leave. In this case she may feel it would not be wise to start nursing her child only to stop midstream (no pun intended) when returning to work. Actually, mom can pump enough milk for baby to drink while with the baby sitter or at a nursery and still continue to breastfeed in the mornings, evenings and on weekends. Again, the choice is hers as she is the one who will need to deal with such a rigorous schedule. Actually, some of the larger corporations around the country also have daycare in the building so that moms can take time from their day to check on their children as well as to nurse them if need be. While these may be few and far between, the point is that it is still possible to breastfeed and work if necessary by pumping enough milk to last the day while you’re at work.

And Then There’s That…

There are a number of other benefits to breastfeeding as well that impact a mother’s decision. Perhaps the greatest is cost. It is estimated that by breastfeeding your baby you can save upwards of $2,000 per year on the cost of formula, bottles and even in trips to the doctor! Remember that immunity we were talking about and the absence of colic? Well, not only is your baby happier and healthier, but so too is your wallet! Next consider all the time you spend sanitizing baby bottles and nipples along with the time and cost of doing so. Also, babies aren’t allergic to mom’s milk and breast milk also changes nutritional components as your child’s needs change! Then there’s mom to consider. Breastfeeding promotes uterine contractions which help her body return to pre-pregnancy condition much more quickly and breastfeeding burns an additional 500 to 600 extra calories a day. If you’re worried about getting back in shape, breastfeeding can help you get there sooner!

A Word for the Other Side

However, breastfeeding isn’t right for all mothers and there is no reason to feel bad if you are one of the moms who choose not to nurse your baby. Some mothers can’t breastfeed due to an underlying illness which could be communicated to the baby while others are on certain medications which would transfer to the mammary glands and into mother’s milk. There are some who are simply uncomfortable with the notion of breastfeeding and there are others who for some unknown reason just can’t produce enough milk to keep baby satiated. The choice is always in your hands and you should never be apologetic for any choices you make in the best interest of you and/or your child. If you are not comfortable with the notion of breastfeeding, your baby will discern that quicker than you can imagine. The goal here is to provide the most healthful environment along with safety and security for both mom and baby. You need to do what is right for you in your particular set of circumstances.

Should I breastfeed my baby? We’ve given you some food for thought, but only you can answer that question!

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