- Improves immunity. Colostrum, the early breast milk in the first few days of feeding, is rich in antibodies that help build your baby’s immune system. And regular breast milk also contains a whole host of factors that help boost immunity, with breast-fed babies experiencing fewer respiratory infections and diarrhea compared to formula fed babies.
- Just the right nutrition. Breast milk provides the balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that your baby needs along with lots of vitamins and minerals and proper hydration.
- Healthier over life. Breastfed babies have less risk of developing overweight/obesity and diabetes throughout life.
- Healthier mom. Breastfeeding can help mothers reduce their risk of diabetes, certain cancers and postpartum depression.
- Money saving. Formula can be expensive. While breast milk is not necessarily ‘free’ – you do need more food as a lactating woman and may invest in a pump – it is still generally less expensive than formula feeding.
- Promotes bonding. Breast feeding helps to promote a strong bond between mother and child. Close physical contact helps to soothe newborns.
- Better for society. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that the US would save about $13 billion per year if all babies were breastfed, since breastfed babies have lower medical costs compared to formula fed babies.
Breastfeeding is recommended as the sole nutrition source for infants until 6 months. After that, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends complimentary foods are introduced while breastfeeding is continued for 1 year or more as mutually desired by the mother and child.
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, try working with your nurse or ob/gyn, WIC, La Leche League, a peer group, or a lactation consultant – all of whom are great resources for helping you work through any challenges you’re experiencing.
All this being said – there are definitely some circumstances when a woman can’t breastfeed. Perhaps there is a medical indication to provide a special formula, or maybe the mother experiences problems producing milk. If you’re a mom in a situation like this – don’t beat yourself up. You are not a failure. Formula is a fine alternative if you can’t breastfeed. You still love your baby and will make the best choices that you can given the situation!