Is breastfeeding better or easier than bottle-feeding your baby? Over the years I don’t think it has ever been disputed that breastfeeding is far healthier, but bottles are certainly very convenient, especially for fathers wanting (or needing) to feed their babies.
Advantages for Breastfed Babies
The health advantages of breast milk include:
- contains antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria
- contains all the essential minerals and vitamins needed in the first 6 months
- lowers the risk of asthma and allergies in children
- lowers the chance of diarrhea and ear infections
- breastfeeding helps moms get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster
The History of Breastfeeding
When my mother was feeding me and my siblings, (in the late 50’s and early 60’s) breastfeeding was not as popular as it is today. Why that was I am not sure. Moms were still predominantly “stay at home” and breastfeeding was (and still is) certainly the more economical way to go. Maybe because of the larger families and the time commitment involved in breastfeeding. It would be hard to concentrate on breastfeeding with a few other munchkins running around. I have heard too that breastfeeding was considered to be an uncultured or low-class practice, an opinion that started in the early 20th century and extended almost to the 21st century.
When I was feeding my own babies (in the 90’s) breastfeeding was the thing to do. I found it very convenient and relaxing, with no complications. No sterilizing bottles and no filling bottles in the middle of the night. I do know several women that had difficulties though, with low milk production or trouble with babies latching on properly. I always said that was the advantage I had in having large babies; (my first was 10 pounds!) they had no trouble latching on and draining me every feeding.
Today, there appears to be mixed feelings about breastfeeding. It has been making a comeback due to the increased interest in pursuing healthy, more natural lifestyles. However, although no one can really dispute the health advantages, some modern women still feel tied down and men feel left out when choosing to breastfeed their babies.
The smart choice (in my opinion) is to do both. Reap the health benefits for mom and baby, but make it more convenient. Modern technology has produced very efficient (although the electric ones are costly) breast pumps and bottles with colic reducing nipples shaped like breast nipples so the baby does not get confused with different sucking procedures going back and forth.
I have seen my daughter-in-law pump two 5 ounce bottles in ten minutes, something that would have taken me hours to do by hand years ago. Below are a few of the newest products out there for breastfeeding moms on the go; they are all greatly admired by this grandma.
The bottom line? The decision to breastfeed or bottle-feed is a personal one, best left to the mother to make.