Breast or Formula… What is best?
Breast or Formula?
Choosing whether to breast or formula feed your bub is one of hardest decisions to make as a new or expecting parent. For some mums, the choice isn’t theirs – breastfeeding simply isn’t possible. For other mums, the choice is theirs but things like medical conditions, lifestyle or comfort reasons can influence their decision to formula feed, and this is okay!
If you have been trying your very best to breast feed and it just isn’t working for you, don’t despair. Having a fed baby is so much more important than anything else. Rest assured, your baby will still get all the nutrients it needs from formula, allowing it to grow and thrive.
Why breast feed?
Breast milk is the perfect food and drink for your baby up until six months of age. Your body creates the perfect meal for your baby at any time based on what the baby requires. For example, the first let down of milk is colostrum which is very high in protein and minerals. The colostrum is a very rich source of antibodies, which is important for your baby’s immune system development.
Two to five days after giving birth the colostrum will change into breast milk. The supply of milk actually changes during the feed too; during the early stages of the feed the milk is thin and watery while later in the feed the milk is richer in fat.
Breast milk contains easily digested protein and fat in the right proportions for growth, carbohydrate for energy, a very absorbable form of iron, fluid for hydration, calcium for strong bones and teeth, a multitude of vitamins and minerals, and protection from some stomach infections and some allergies.
What’s in formula?
Most infant formula is based on cow’s milk but it has been modified to bring it closer to the composition of breast milk. Vitamins, minerals, vegetable oils and whey proteins are added so there is no need to give your baby additional vitamin and mineral supplements (unless advised by your GP or pediatrician).
All infant formula must comply with strict nutritional and hygiene standards. There are many varieties of formula, including gold formulas, soy, goat and lactose-free formulas, thickened formulas and hypoallergenic formulas. Ask your paediatrician or dietitian to help you decide which formula is right for your baby.
Can I just use cow’s milk?
Cow’s milk, which you may drink, is not suitable for babies. It does not have sufficient iron, has too much protein, calcium and phosphorus, lacks vitamins A, C and E and also lacks essential fatty acids. Some babies have suffered blood loss through the gut from drinking cow’s milk before 12 months of age.
What’s right for me and my baby?
You will only know what’s right for you and your baby when your baby comes. Well-meaning family and friends may have advice to offer, but remember the choice is yours. Seek the advice of professionals, including your GP or paediatrician, dietician and lactation consultant, and discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of breast versus formula with them.
Remember, an informed decision is always a good decision.