Several people have differing views concerning the pros and cons of breastfeeding versus formula milk. Majority of women decide to either bottle-feed or breastfeed their babies depending on their diverse cultures, friends and family and also depending on what they see and read. The debate on breast milk versus breast milk has been intense over the last few years with both sides defending their position vehemently. According to the view of heath professionals, breast milk is more beneficial compared to formula milk. Recent scientific evidence has proved that breast milk is extremely beneficial compared to formula milk and some of the merits will be examined.
The process of feeding a young child with breast milk directly from the human breasts is referred to as breastfeeding. The healthiest milk form for human babies is the human breast milk. There are several merits of breast milk and some of them include prevention of diseases, promotion of health and reduction of feeding and health care costs. Health experts may hold an opinion that breast milk is beneficial but have differing opinions regarding the most recommendable length or period for breastfeeding. The value of breastfeeding has been emphasized by both the American Academy for Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (Fredreqill and Fredreqill, 2007).
Breast milk has relatively stable nutritional content and properties. The milk comprises of nutrients derived from bodily stores and the mother’s bloodstream. Moreover, the milk has the right proportions of nutrients such as water, sugar, fat and proteins, which are required for the infant’s development and growth. A mother can lose weight after giving birth through breastfeeding since the process makes use of approximately five hundred calories daily. Breast milk composition varies according to the nursing session period and the child’s age. Activities that may compromise the value of breast milk include taking alcoholic beverages, heroine, smoking and caffeinated drinks. It is also noteworthy that the milk has various merits, which are beneficial to the infant’s well-being (Fredreqill, 2007).
One of the key merits of breast milk is that it contains substances that play a protective role by preventing the baby from contacting health infections. Colostrum is a good example of a protective substance that contains antibodies for fighting infections. Moreover, colostrum has a high nutritive value since it contains molecules such as proteins and zinc. Human babies have an extremely delicate digestive system and hence, breast milk has proved to be the perfect nutritional form for this kind of system. The components contained in breast milk can be digested with ease in the delicate and immature digestive systems. Since breast milk is easily digestible, infants experience very few, if no cases of diarrhea and constipation. Formula milk on the other hand contains a duplicate and not the original form of the mentioned nutrition components (Morgan and Dickerson, 2003).
Findings from numerous scientific research studies indicate that babies who are breastfed often have a reduced number of illnesses and infections. The rationale for this is that breast milk enables a baby to develop a strong and healthy immune system, implying that there would be a reduce risk for developing health complications and illnesses. Normally, virtually all new-born babies have a leaky gut that needs to heal with time. In cases where the gut fails to heal, proteins that have not been digested lead to allergic reactions. The ingredients that is required for sealing the permeability and leakiness of the gut is contained in breast milk. This ingredient is known as the secretary immunoglobin A, which is not present in formula milk. It is therefore clear that breast milk is beneficial to an infant’s well-being since it strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of infections such as allergies (Morgan, 2003).
The process of breastfeeding is linked to the passage of antibodies from the mother’s system to the baby’s biological system. Antibodies are integral components of the immune system since they play a role in fighting antigens that are responsible for various infections. Moreover, there are several anti-effective factors that are contained in breast milk for instance bile salt stimulated lipase, that is effective in protecting infants from amoebic infections, immunoglobin A , that prevents infants against microbes and finally lactoferin, which is an iron-binding molecule that reduces the growth of intestinal bacteria (Mohrbacher, 2005).
Research studies also suggest that there are several merits associated with exclusive breast feeding for a longer time period. According to the studies, babies who were fed exclusively with breast milk for a period of six months were at a very low risk of contacting gastrointestinal infections. This is contrary to those who were fed with breast milk for a period ranging from three to four months. Moreover, feeding babies too early with formula milk increases the chances of developing Type 1 diabetes, which is detrimental to the baby’s health (Fredreqill, 2007).
The risk of extreme obesity is reduced in children between the ages of 39 to 42 months through breastfeeding. The effect of reducing childhood obesity increases with increase in the period of feeding infants with breast milk. Generally, children fed with breast milk tend to develop fewer infections compared to their counterparts who are fed with formula milk. Various study publications have proved this fact though this does not necessarily mean that all babies fed with breast milk are healthy and all those fed with formula milk are at a disadvantage (Morgan, 2003).
The implication of the mentioned facts is not that formula milk doest not contain various nutritional components. Well, formula milk gives the infant a wide range of proteins, vitamins and other nutrients required for growth and development. However, the fact is that breast milk contains all the required nutrients in there right proportions, in a single convenient package. These nutrients are naturally incorporated in the milk without having to artificially measure their proportions (Fredreqill, 2007).
It is also worth mentioning the fact that breast milk is convenient and free. Moreover, the milk saves mothers great amount of money during the first few early weeks of a baby’s life. This is contrary to formula milk where the mother has to spend a great deal of money in purchasing feeding bottles and the milk itself. The task of bottle feeding is also time-consuming since the mother needs to take adequate amount of time in cleaning the bottled and preparing the milk. Hence, instead of feeding infants with formula milk, mothers should save time and money by feeding their babies with breast milk (Morgan, 2003).
Despite all the mentioned benefits of breast milk, there are a few demerits associated with it. First of all, there are some mothers who are uncomfortable with the breastfeeding concept from the beginning. Majority of mothers need adequate time to adjust to their roles and to learn the various methods that can be used to increase comfort during breastfeeding. In this situation, feeding the infant with formula milk serves as the best alternative till the mother is well prepared to breast feed. Moreover, breastfeeding has proved to be extremely demanding compared to feeding the baby with formula milk. This is due to the fact that most babies require being breastfed from time to time and this may require great physical effort from the mother, which mat take a toll on their general well-being (Mohrbacher, 2005).
The other demerit is the pain that is at times associated with breastfeeding. Small infants have a great ability to forcefully suck milk and this may take their mothers by surprise. Consequently, the forceful sucking may result to sore breast and bleeding in extreme cases, which may result to discomfort for the mother.Despite the mentioned disadvantages of breast milk, it is clear that formula milk can never measure up to the beneficial aspects of breast milk.
The method to be used for feeding a new-born baby is one of the key decisions that parents have to make. According to health researchers and experts, the ideal milk for feeding an infant should be breast milk. The milk has more beneficial aspects compared to formula milk and most of the aspects lean on the infant’s well-being and development. Protective substances present in breast milk strengthen the infants’ immune system and reduce the risks of infections.
Fredreqill, S., & Fredreqill, R. (2007). Breastfeeding. Lifesaving techniques and advice for every stage of nursing. Adams Media
Mohrbacher, N. (2005). The breastfeeding answer book. Le Leche League International
Morgan, J. B., & Dickerson, J. W. (2003). Nutrition in early life. John Wiley and Sons