Breast Feeding

You will have been hard pushed to escape the 'breast is best' message during pregnancy. It comes from midwives, doctors and baby books. Even infant formula manufacturers make the message clear. The main reason that it is so strongly encouraged is because breastfeeding - particularly prolonged exclusive breastfeeding - promotes health and prevents a number of infections and diseases in both mothers and babies. Whilst infant formula is manufactured to be as similar to breast milk as possible, it still does not match up to breast milk when it comes to keeping illnesses at bay, for example, a breastfed baby is less likely to be admitted to hospital with gastrointestinal illnesses, or chest and ear infections. Breastfed babies are also less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes later in life. As for mothers, the benefit of having 'milk on tap' with no preparation required is obvious, but in addition to this, breastfeeding also reduces their chances of certain cancers. One of the other big attractions for new mothers is that breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day!

However, breastfeeding is not without its own problems - otherwise there wouldn't be so much debate about it. Many women find breastfeeding difficult, uncomfortable or even painful during the early days. It can be exhausting, frustrating and worrying - particularly if you fear your baby isn't getting enough milk. At a time when a woman is recovering from either labour or a caesarean-section, infant formula may seem like a more attractive option. The perceived pressure from other people and organisations for a mother to breastfeed can sometimes leave women feeling negative about themselves or towards the healthcare professionals that they come into contact with. Remember that they 'push' this method of feeding because it has tremendous benefits to your and your baby's health, they have your best interests at heart. However, it is not right for anybody to feel bullied or pressured into breastfeeding, it is your decision as a parent. You ought to consider the pros and cons of both breastfeeding and formula feeding before having your baby so that you feel confident with your decision.

If you are keen to breastfeed your baby then there are lots of things that you can do to make the experience an enjoyable one. There is lots of support on hand at hospitals and drop-in centres to help new mothers. One of the most common reasons that breastfeeding sometimes hurts is because babies aren't latching onto the breast properly, health visitors, midwives and specialist advisors are able to offer a lot of help with correcting this. Many women who breastfeed their babies express some of their milk so that it can be given to them in a bottle by other people, so you needn't see breastfeeding as something that will stop you from spending any time away from your baby.

Deciding whether or not to breastfeed your baby is one of the first big choices you will make as a parent. It isn't always an easy one to make, so if you aren't sure, then why not give it a try. Formula is something you can change to at any time, whereas breastfeeding is much harder to establish if you don't do it right from the beginning.

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.