Over the years, there have been conflicting reports regarding what’s best for babies: breast milk, or formula. Well it seems that at last the jury is in, and they have ruled in the favor of breast milk. It really shouldn’t come as much of a shock that nature gave mother’s exactly what their infants needed. If you’re not entirely convinced yet, read on and find out just how much better breast milk is for infants as opposed to formula.
1. Promotes Bonding
Breastfeeding actually releases certain hormones in the mother’s body which creates a more loving bond between herself and her baby.
2. Ideal Nutrition
Although the labels on formula claim that they contain all of the same nutrients, and maybe even more, this is simply not true. Like our adult bodies process and use nutrients from natural foods better than say a vitamin, so do infants receive more nutrients from real food, i.e. breast milk.
3. Easier to Digest
Because it is natural and was intended for infants to consume, breast milk is much easier to digest than formula. It is also better than other animal milks, such a goat or cow.
4. Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer
A study published in 1994 in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that for every woman who did not breastfeed at all or did so for three months or fewer, their risk of breast cancer could have been cut by 11% had they breastfed for 6-12 months. Researchers aren’t exactly sure of the reason behind this, but it has become a common belief in the medical field. Furthermore, infant girls actually have a 25% increased risk of getting breast cancer if fed formula, compared to their peers that were breastfed.
5. Satisfies Emotional Needs
Babies have emotional needs, and breastfeeding satisfies them in a unique way. Infants need to be held to feel secure, and this translates to satisfying more emotional needs as they grow up. Even if you are struggling with breastfeeding and need to use a bottle, be sure that you are holding your baby close to you and hold the bottle for them.
6. Reduces Risk of Other Cancers
It is believed that breastfeeding can also reduce a woman’s risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
7. Helps Shrink the Uterus
This is a major bonus for mom—breastfeeding sends signals to your uterus that it’s work is done, and it can go back to what it was doing pre-baby. By helping to shrink your uterus more quickly, breastfeeding also helps you to regain your figure in an expedited fashion.
8. Helps Pass Meconium
Infants are born with a sticky substance in their intestines called meconium. Consuming breast milk helps to quickly and naturally move it out of their systems.
9. Improves Infant’s Immune System
The strength of the mother’s own immune system will be passed to the infant via breastfeeding. Formula cannot provide this benefit at all.
10. Formula is Associated with Lower I.Q.
An 18-year study done in New Zealand on 1,000 children showed that those that were breastfed as infants had higher intelligence and were more successful in academics than their formula-fed peers.
11. Helps Prevent Hemorrhage
Nursing your infant stimulates the production of oxytocin, which will send signals to shut off the blood vessels that were formerly feeding the baby via the placenta. By sending these signals to shut down, oxytocin helps reduce the risk of excessive bleeding postpartum.
12. May Reduce Risk of SIDS
SIDS is a scary business, and most parents will do anything and everything to reduce the risk. Multiple studies show that there may be a correlation between formula and an increased risk of SIDS.
13. May Protect Infant’s Vision
One study done in Bangladesh showed that breastfeeding serves as protection of night vision in children. This is likely because breast milk provides the needed amounts of vitamin A to ensure and protect healthy vision.
14. Protects Against Crohn’s
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but multiple studies have been done which show a correlation between being breastfed and a reduced risk of Crohn’s disease.
15. Burns More Calories
Breastfeeding burns an extra 500 calories per day, which means that it can help you lose the baby weight much quicker.
16. Reduces Risk of Ear Infections
Numerous studies have shown that, for some reason, ear infections are 3-4 times more common in groups of infants that are solely formula-fed than in those that are breastfed.
17. Formula Increases Risks of Type I Diabetes
Being fed either formula or cow’s milk can increase an infant’s risk of getting type I diabetes as a child.
18. Reduces Baby Allergies and Asthma
Breastfeeding can prevent asthma and may also prevent an infant from developing numerous allergies. Like eating local, raw honey helps reduce your own allergies, consuming mom’s milk, which contains many of the potential allergens, will help to reduce the risk of the baby forming an allergy.
19. Protects Babies Against Infections
Breastfeeding can protect babies from many infections, including meningitis and even respiratory infections. It is best to try to breastfeed for the most protection against these infections.
If this isn’t enough, it might help to know that UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommend breastfeeding, as human milk provides infants with the most nutrients. Not to mention, breast milk is also more convenient than formula, and requires no mixing or warming.
The cherry on top? It’s free! If you want to breastfeed but are struggling, speak with your doctor or a lactation specialist; there are many techniques and tools (such as a nipple guard) that can be used to help make the process easy and effective for both mom and baby.