Breast feeding is what most women in England choose to do as it is the healthiest way to feed your baby and most hospitals will recommend that you breastfeed your child for around the first 6 months. The decision on breast vs. bottle feeding is a very personal one and you should not be pressured into doing either one. You will need to consider your lifestyle, medical history and your personal comfort level. There are many advantages to breast feeding; breast feeding is the only natural food for your baby and it is easier for the baby to digest. Breast feeding is also very convenient for the mother because there is no preparation needed and it is available whenever your child needs it. Formula milk is also very expensive which makes breast feeding a cheaper option as well as a healthier one. Mothers should bond with their babies and breast feeding is a great way to do that allowing skin on skin contact. As well as convenience there are also many health benefits for the baby and the mum such as the baby has less of a chance of vomiting and diarrhoea. The babies will also get fewer chest infections and ear infections and there is a smaller chance of them developing eczema. For the mother it uses up to 500 calories a day which makes it easier to lose baby weight, however there are also many disadvantages for example some mums do not feel comfortable feeding in public as some people may have strong views against it. Many mums may feel pressured into breastfeeding their child so if they were to find it challenging E.g. they may get sore painful nipples or they may not be able to produce enough milk for their child then it could cause them to be very tired, upset and stressed which in turn could distress the child. Another disadvantage of breast feeding is that women would have to watch what they are eating especially if their baby has allergies, they also cannot drink alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated foods need to be avoided.
Bottle feeding is the other method to feeding your child. The decision to bottle feeding also must be from you and you should not feel like it is wrong. There are many advantages to bottle feeding your baby for example depending on the child they may sleep for longer between feeds which means that the mum will be able to sleep more. It also takes the stress off of the mother as she does not need to be there for every feed as another family member can feed and bond with the baby also. Formula milk will also have added vitamins and minerals for example formula milk has added vitamin K. Vitamin K deficiency is very common in newborn babies (http://www.webmd.com/). Vitamin K plays a key role in stopping the blood from clotting but the body’s ability to store it is low which is why extra is added. Aside from this there are also many disadvantages of bottle feeding for example babies who are bottle fed have more of a chance of developing illnesses such as diarrhoea, chest infections, ear infections or urine infections. Another disadvantage is that you would have to be very careful and precise when making the formula mixture as you could make it to strong or weak and you would have to be careful that it is not hot.
A lot of preparation is needed when making up a feed such as washing and sterilising all the equipment needed for a feed. There are many studies that compare breastfeeding to bottle feeding who have found that babies who are bottle fed have an increased risk of obesity up to six years of age. Also bottle feeding can become very expensive and once you have started to bottle feed it is difficult to reverse the decision and breastfeed again.
If you decide to bottle feed your baby then you have to be careful to follow all the correct steps to ensure the feed is done correctly. Also to reduce the risk of infections, make up each feed as your baby needs them using boiled water. It is best to use boiled water from the tap; you should not use artificially softened water or water that has