Motherhood is no cake walk. Once you’ve survived the throes of pregnancy your body is K.O.ed and you’re ready for a really long nap. But, your job has only just begun. If you’re deciding on whether or not to breastfeed I can definitely layout the pros and cons for you. The facts seems to weigh in favor of not breastfeeding but there is also evidence that breastfeeding is beneficial in a lot of ways that a traditional formula is not. This is a very personal decisions, so don’t let anyone make you feel bad if breastfeeding is not right for you.
Need some guidance on how or if you should breastfeed? Breastfeeding: A Quest for Success, an online tutorial, may be just what you need, but let’s go over some of the main disadvantages here.
Primary Caretaker Demands
Alright, so you’re a new mom and you don’t want to be away from your newborn – ever. Well, at least not for too long. If you work a full-time job you are going to have to gear up for an evening full of pumping to get enough milk to feed your baby for the next day you are not around. If you don’t pump often your breasts will get painful swollen and that’s no fun either. You are the baby’s primary source of food and nutrition and unless you want to spend time pumping milk before you head out somewhere, you’re going to have to bring baby along. Pumping milk may not sound that bad right now but it’s certainly not a pleasurable experience for most moms. Basically, any opportunity to have a second caretaker for your kid is gone with the wind when you breastfeed.
Breastfeeding grows the connection between mother and child, but it can also be a bear when you found the perfect babysitter and can’t leave a part of your body behind to provide the meals. There is something called tandem nursing to consider if you really want to make it work, but many moms don’t feel comfortable with this option.
If you are on any medications, you’re going to want to nix the idea of breastfeeding. See, whatever you take into your body is going to come out in trace amounts (and sometimes not so trace amounts) in your breast milk. If you are on medications for anything, or are a smoker, drinker or unhealthy eater, you’re going to want to consider feeding your baby formula instead of breast milk. When you’re pregnant you’re told not to drink, not to smoke, not to take certain medications and so on. This advice applies far after the baby is born if you are breastfeeding. Just something to keep in mind. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction during pregnancy, check out Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome to learn more about how to get help and the risks you taking by continuing substance abuse.
This is a biggie. Some moms are carefree and don’t care about breastfeeding in public places. Some people, however, are not exactly down with eating their lunch while a mom stealthy slips her shirt off and breastfeeds a baby. Of course this is a natural process, but some think it’s better suited for the privacy of your own home, car, bathroom, etc. This can be especially touchy if the baby is closer to the toddler age. There’s nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, though if you do want to connect with your baby this way, keep in mind that there are special tops made specifically for modesty when breastfeeding in public, and you also have the pump option.
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I’ve known a few moms who were excited to breastfeed only to find out that their milk proteins were causing an adverse effect on their child. In other words, the baby was allergic to mom’s milk. This doesn’t happen that often but it is certainly something to consider. If you do decide to breastfeed make sure you pay close attention to your child’s reaction and to their bodies. You want to make sure you are doing them harm when you are only trying to feed them. Allergens can manifest in a variety of ways, but things to look for would include, rashes, wheezing, watery eyes, red cheeks, and loose stools.
And finally, the last con to breastfeeding here: soreness. We already briefly touched on this but I wanted to hammer it in. The soreness, the pain, the uncomfortable feeling is enough to make a lot of women cringe. Your nipples get dry and sometimes crack and when your baby begins teething, guess what? You become their teething device. Little teeth can hurt, so keep in mind what you’re getting yourself into when you decide to breastfeed past a few months. Your baby will also likely favor one of your breasts. Be ready to have different sized breasts for some part of your breastfeeding career. Of course, some mom’s don’t care and will endure the pain and tenderness in order to further establish that bond with their child. If that’s what you choose – that’s great, because again, this is a very personal decision.
A Note About Weaning
Not every kid is going to just stop wanting breast milk at one year. Some kids will begin to withdrawal earlier, and some will show no signs of stopping at all. The process of weaning can be very exhausting for both mom and kid. Older kids can begin to act out and pull on your clothing while in public when you are trying to limit the amount of breast milk they get over solid food. It can also become very painful for mom as she tries to break the habit of lactating multiple times a day. Make sure you talk to your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist to come up with a plan for weaning.
Pros to Breastfeeding
So like with everything, there is the good and there is the bad. You’ve heard the disadvantages about breastfeeding, now what about the advantages? If you have a little one on the way, you’ve also got a lot of work to do before he or she gets here. Ease the worries with this Newborns Essential Checklist.
This is one that a lot of pro-breastfeeding moms argue is the best part of breastfeeding. There is a natural bond that exists between mom and baby from the minute the baby is born, but the bond can strengthen when mom exclusively feeds the baby breast milk for at least the first year of life. This connection and skin-to-skin contact can also help release oxytocin which is a hormone associated with happiness and calmness. Oxytocin also helps milk flow and can aid in releasing milk when your breast becomes painfully engorged.
- Reduces Cancer
It’s been shown that mothers who breastfeed their children have a reduced risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer. In fact, the chance of you getting these types of cancer is reduced up to 75% with each pregnancy and subsequent breastfeeding. Breast and ovarian cancer are often caused by high estrogen levels, and when you are pregnant and/or lactating, estrogen levels are reduced. This means that your overall lifetime exposure to estrogen is reduced and that reduces your risk for getting cancer.
- Reduces Disease
Moms and babies can mutually benefit from breastfeeding as it’s considered an immune boosting event. When mom secretes milk, she is also releasing a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). This substance acts as a protector for the baby’s nose, mouth, and ears which can prevent germs from getting in and thus can prevent illness from occurring.
Unfortunately some babies are born with allergies, and sometimes these allergies are to the alternative feeding method: formula. If this is the case then you’ve got two options; one, you can make an awesome non-synthesized baby formula from scratch or two, you can breastfeed. A lot of moms are busy and the idea of having to make baby formula is daunting. The natural and much easier, albeit a little more physically exhausting, alternative is to provide your little one with breast milk.
Choosing to breastfeed or not to breastfeed is a very personal decision. The purpose of this article is to provide you with both the disadvantages and advantages of your choice. Continue doing research on the subject so that you can make an educated decision for the betterment of you and your baby. Regardless of how you choose to feed your baby – your baby needs to be fed! Learn all about how and what to feed your baby, more about starting solid foods and nutrition in this online course: Yummy in My Tummy.