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Is Breast Feeding the Best Way?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Breastfeeding Nursing Milk Lactation

Breastfeeding is often a contentious issue. Many people argue passionately that breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby, while others argue just as vehemently that each family must decide this for themselves. Women interested in learning more about breastfeeding should consult their GP, midwife or a lactation consultant.

The Pros of Breastfeeding

There are many positive aspects of breastfeeding. To begin with, a mother’s natural milk has just the right mix of vitamins, proteins, fats and sugars for a baby’s delicate digestion. Breast milk also contains antibodies from the mother which offer a baby some protection against disease. Breastfeeding also provides a mother and baby with a special way of bonding during nursing and many women feel that it saves mothers time in that they do not need to purchase, mix or warm formula nor do they need to sterilise baby bottles. Many mothers also advocate breastfeeding because it uses extra calories and helps women shed pregnancy weight faster, as well as helps shrink the uterus back to its original size and contributes to the lessening of bleeding after the birth. It is also believed that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of female cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

The Cons of Breastfeeding

There are many negative aspects of breastfeeding as well. Women who have had a mastectomy, breast enlargement or breast reduction may not be able to breastfeed. Some babies have an allergy to milk or something in the mother’s breast milk. Fathers may not like breastfeeding because it does not allow them to bond with babies during bottle feeding. Mothers may not enjoy breastfeeding as it limits their diet and nutrition due to the fact that whatever they eat can impact the breast milk that they are passing on to their babies. Some women may also feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, dislike feeding on a stringent schedule or find incidents of breast milk staining their clothes embarrassing. The risk of infection also increases with breastfeeding as infection can enter a woman’s breast through the nipples.

Deciding to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding is always a personal decision, one that is best made in private between the mother and a father. If parents do not agree on whether or not to breastfeed then seeking outside advice from a medical professional or lactation consultant may help clear up some of the more sticky issues. If a woman wants to breastfeed but finds that she can not, she should in no way feel that she is a failure. Breastfeeding is not the only way to feed a baby and make sure that (s)he gets all of the nutrition necessary for his or her age. Formula feedings are a very viable option for women who can not or choose not to breastfeed. If a woman attempts to breastfeed but finds it painful, she should consult a medical professional to help determine if the cause might be an infection or another medical issue that could be treated quickly. Women who would like more information on breastfeeding can contact a lactation consultant or mothers experienced in breastfeeding for more “inside information” about nursing.

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