The breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding question is an intense one for many, and some have called it a controversy, but disagreements are nearly always the result of misinformation.
There is extensive information on both the extraordinary benefits of breastfeeding and the damage that can be caused by baby formula feeding. Not just from a few studies. Many studies.
It is also a lot less of a bother to breastfeed, and provides better sleep for the mother.
No one argues that bottle feeding of formula results in a higher incidence of allergies and more frequent illness for both baby and mother. Bottle fed babies are much more likely to be hospitalized, and are more prone to death by SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Toxic chemicals occur in baby formula, and formula’s nutrition is poor for babies. The New York Times even began a breastfeeding article with this line “Warning… NOT breastfeeding may be hazardous to your health.”
The problem may be that the information is too complete. The companies selling baby formula are left with little to offer, and have resorted to spending a lot of advertising money to make infant formula seem like the normal, easy thing, or at least a pretty reasonable second best. What is most important, they seem to say, is that the mother has an easier time by giving bottles of formula.
Breastfeeding is actually easier than giving formula. For one thing, the mother can get much better sleep (once she learns tips for night nursing that help to insure a restful night’s sleep). Baby is near to mama all night, and after they settle down to a nursing session, a hormone released during breastfeeding helps the mother fall back to sleep.
Another reason that breastfeeding is easier is that your baby is healthier, less often sick, calmer, and happier.
Breastfeeding results in lower health care costs, and also helps the mother lose weight. It acts as natural birth control by delaying the return of the menstrual cycle. Talk about convenience!
Does your baby needs milk while you’re at work? Some breast pumps work very well. I know mothers who pumped for months to enable them to continue to give the baby the wonders of breastfeeding at night, and to insure their sleep.
Why is breastfeeding so important?
Breastfeeding is not only vastly superior nutrition, it is neurological support, and it is a way of culturing the baby’s digestive track to develop correctly. It is a way for the baby to learn emotional connection while bonding to the mother. It is immune system support and much more. It is the way we human animals grow best. It is our biology that demands breastfeeding.
Formula provides almost none of this. The only thing in the list above that baby formula does provide at all is nutrition, which it does at a comparatively feeble level. When compared with breast milk, looking for the best baby formula is like going to McDonald’s every day to find the healthiest food, when all their food is processed, old, full of chemicals, devitalized, and made of GMO ingredients. You would never want to give your baby these things.
Sure, you can survive going to McDonald’s every day. Sort of. But it comes at a steep, steep price to your health, well being and mental function in the world. Giving formula instead of breastfeeding comes with that kind of price to the child.
Think of breastfeeding as going to the organic farmer’s market or natural foods store to buy the freshest vegetables full of life giving nutrients, the cleanest meats and eggs from humanely raised animals, high quality, fresh nuts and seeds, and seasonal fruits. All chemical free, teeming with vital nutrients, and supportive of the highest level of mental and physical health, wellness, and growth.
What is the best baby formula? There is no contest. It’s the formula developed and perfected by nature. It’s Mama’s own milk, with her skin close, and her warmth, and the baby finding her eyes and face. The benefits in the child’s future health and abilities are great.
Unfortunately, many medical professionals and government authorities are horribly misinformed about breastfeeding and natural birth. In the face of advertising and our fast electronic lives, we tend to be out of touch with time-honored parenting choices that make breastfeeding easy and help make it successful.
Opinions change slowly, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Doctors sometimes even tell women they can’t make enough milk, and encourage them toward formula, when the mother is completely capable, but simply not getting the right support.
Why is Breastfeeding Support Essential?
Part of the confusion is that women try to breastfeed without support, without anyone to guide them, or against the resistance of family members or friends. Very confusing to a tender new mother. The tradition of breastfeeding has largely disappeared from our culture. Sometimes there is no one to explain things, like a mother who can point the way and explain things.
Get good coaching if you want to breastfeed. La Leche League, with chapters close to most communities, is free. Dr. Ginsburg also provides coaching.
Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding is not a hard choice. Even women with full time jobs and commutes have done it. Others have discovered through early breastfeeding that their anticipation of the needs of their babies were wrong, and they needed to adjust their lifestyle. Breastfeeding will teach you how to understand your baby.
How Dr. Ginsburg supports breastfeeding
Dr. Ginsburg will often say “Anything you can do for your baby’s welfare pales in comparison with breastfeeding. Anything.”
One of the most satisfying aspects of doctoring for her is supporting expectant mothers who are interested in, or curious about breastfeeding, as well as those already doing it. She is also supportive of extended breastfeeding.