Breast vs Bottle
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Breast vs Bottle
Parenting Magazine, New Delhi
By Nutan Pandit
As far as breast feeding is concerned, the pros far outweigh the cons
In an age when going back to nature is considered as fashionable and ethnic chic, everything that comes out of a tin or bottle is at once ‘suspect’. But in the ongoing battle between the breast vs the bottle, the bias is not totally unjustified – after all, as far as breastfeeding your baby is concerned, the pros far outweigh the cons. It is, however, a very personal decision that the mother, more than anyone else, must be comfortable with
Research on the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding has led more and more mothers to realize that breastfeeding is preferable. It is well known that even if you can breastfeed for only a few weeks your baby will benefit
However as you decide you may want to consider the arguments for each method
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
The Colostrum advantage
The Colostrum present in the breast before the milk comes is of tremendous benefit to the baby. It contains Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin A, B6, B12 and E. It acts as a laxative and helps the baby pass its first stool. The stool contains bilirubin, a by-product of the break-down of excessive red blood cells, present in the baby from its uterine existence. If this bilirubin is not quickly excreted, it may be reabsorbed into the baby’s blood and give rise to physiological jaundice, which could occur thirty hours after birth.
Colostrum has a higher cholesterol level than milk, which is important at this stage for the growth of the baby’s nervous system. Further, it is rich in antibiotics that protect the baby from a number of infections that the mother may have suffered from or has been immunized against
Colostrum contains more protein than mature milk. The protein gives the baby a feeling of being full so that it remains satisfied for a longer time after a feed, enabling it to sleep and rest for longer periods during the first days of its life. This also provides the mother an opportunity to rest. When the baby is fed colostrum, certain hormones are released in the mother that encourages the supply of milk to set in. This is also a good time for the baby to suck. If the baby learns to suck when the milk actually comes into the breast, it will be a painful experience for the mother as the breasts are hard full and sensitive
It is just the right composition
Breast milk contains water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in a proportion that suits your baby’s needs. Since breast milk is secreted by the mother for her infant, and since the proportions of ingredients change as the baby grows, it is undoubtedly best suited for an infant. The milk of a mother who has a premature infant and the milk of the mother of a full-term infant will be ideally suited to her baby. Moreover, milk from the breast is at the correct temperature.
All the components of mother’s milk have still not been identified. It was thought that breast milk lacked Vitamin D. However, in the 1970s, research established that Vitamin D, was present in mother’s milk. Mother’s milk contains 1 mg of iron per 100 ml, therefore a breastfed baby needs no iron supplements. It is also known that the iron in breast milk is more readily absorbed than cow’s milk formula, to which iron has been added. Mothers’ milk also contains lactoferrin, an anti-infective protein which helps kill bacteria by denying the bacteria the iron they need to grow. Lactoferrin is also present in cow’s milk but is destroyed by boiling or processing. A breast-fed baby gets milk only when he sucks and puts in the effort, whereas a bottle-fed baby gets an easier flow of milk from the bottle, and therefore has a tendency to overeat right from the beginning.
It is more hygienic and labour saving
If you breastfeed you can do away with the tiresome ritual of washing and sterilizing bottles and teats, making the formula, bringing it to the required temperature etc. All you need to do is have the baby with you.
Also, breastfed babies are less susceptible to illness. Besides acquiring resistance to fight infection from the antibodies present in their mothers’ milk, when a mother breastfeeds, there are no bottles, pans, teats or hands involved, therefore less likelihood of any infection passing on to the baby
It provides natural contraception
While the baby is being completely breastfed, it is virtually impossible for the mother to conceive. Mothers who are breastfeeding have a longer gap before the onset of the next menstrual period. This provides natural contraception, appropriately increasing the time gap between pregnancies
Breastfeeding is good for your figure
A mother who breastfeeds uses up about 400 calories a day to nourish her newborn. As the baby grows, he needs more milk and more calories which again the mother provides through breastfeeding
Several women are hesitant to breastfeed as they believe that their breasts may sag. This need not be the case if you wear a bra which provides good support. While you breastfeed, the muscles of the uterus contract and the uterus returns to its original size and position
Nevertheless, despite all the positive reasons for breastfeeding, those who support bottle feeding have their arguments. There are situations when it is not possible to breastfeed the baby. Due to certain medical reasons a mother may be asked not to breastfeed, or working mothers, due to the demands of their work, may be away from home for excessively long stretches and therefore be unable to breastfeed their babies. Sometimes, recurrent cracking of nipples or surgery may make it impossible for the mother to breastfeed
The chief benefit of bottle feeding is that your partner or some other care-giver can share the feeding regimen. Being able to hand off some feeds for a fatigued new mother, especially one trying to give other children the attention they need at this time. Although the advantages of breastfeeding are enormous, having a happy sane mother is also important. So if someone has made a conscious decision that she doesn’t want to breastfeed, she is not going to be favourably predisposed or happy if she is breastfeeding just to please her husband, mother, mother-in-law or anyone else
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