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The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding

Kelly Sundstrom
July 23, 2015

Still not sure if you want to breastfeed your baby? This list of the pros and cons of breastfeeding might help you decide.

If you've never breastfed before, the idea can sometimes feel intimidating or overwhelming. However, looking into the pros and cons of breastfeeding can help you make a wiser, more informed decision about how you want to feed your baby. If you're on the fence because you will have to undergo a C-section delivery, take comfort in the knowledge that you don't necessarily need to begin with bottles.

In fact, breastfeeding after a C-section might actually help. "The first feeding was amazing," says Stephanie Craft, a breastfeeding advocate and author of "Mama's Milkies." "I'll never forget holding my baby close to my breast the first time." On the other hand, just because all of your friends nurse their babies doesn't mean you have to. In fact, different factors might affect your ability to breastfeed easily, like whether you have a full-time job, inverted nipples, a premature birth or certain medical conditions.

Whatever your decision, make your own list of the pros and cons of breastfeeding to help you make your choice. Having a clear plan about how you want to feed your baby ahead of time can prevent a lot of frustration later. "I think that the use of bottles needs to be taken very seriously when introducing it to a baby who has not yet established breastfeeding well," says Ruth Kraft, a doula trainer, breastfeeding counselor and faculty member at the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.

"Bottles will never fix a breastfeeding issue and often will cause more harm than good. Nipple confusion is difficult and frustrating for mom and baby." To avoid this confusion, devote some time to the decision before you give birth and outline a plan you'd like to follow. Use this process to gather information and opinions from your doctors as well.

The Pros of Breastfeeding
There are several benefits associated with breastfeeding that you'll need to seriously consider. Some of the biggest influences include:

  • Breast Milk Helps Build Immunity
    Antibodies in your breast milk can help boost your baby's immunity to disease and infection. And since your breast milk was perfectly designed for your baby, you can feel confident that she's receiving the best nutrition possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics explores these health advantages for your little one.
  • The Act Increases the Mother-Child Bond
    Feeding your baby from your own body creates a deep bond and a special connection between mother and child. This relationship can be especially helpful for mothers who do not feel a connection right away or were temporarily separated from their babies after delivery.
  • Convenience
    By eliminating the need to prepare, mix, heat up and clean bottles, breastfeeding has the edge when it comes to convenience. You will always have a ready-made supply of warm milk for your little one.
  • Low Cost
    The cost of formula, bottles and feeding accessories can really add up. But nothing beats the frugality of breastfeeding, as you'll only have to worry about buying nutritious food and vitamins for yourself.

The Cons of Breastfeeding
However, there are a few drawbacks to breastfeeding that may make it a tough sell. You'll have to consider facts like:

  • Moms are Always on Call
    Working moms can sometimes find it difficult to manage keeping up with a breastfeeding schedule while maintaining a full-time career. Not only will you need to manage your work tasks throughout the day, but you will also need to pump regularly, store your pumped milk and rotate your supply.
  • Dad can't Help Out With Feeding
    Although breastfeeding creates a strong bond between mother and child, fathers can't really take part in the experience. Using bottles allows fathers to share in the joy of feeding the baby -- and it frees up some time for mom.
  • You've Got to Watch Your Diet
    Breastfeeding mothers must carefully monitor their diet and avoid foods and drinks that could affect their babies, including alcohol, caffeine and certain over-the-counter medications.
  • You Encounter Sore Nipples and Breasts
    Some women find the initial pain of breastfeeding overwhelming. Although nipple and breast pain does subside over time and there are resources available to help, it can be intense in the beginning.

Need additional help when deciding on breast or bottle? Get more information at Breast Milk or Formula? Which Is Right for Your Baby?

Kelly Sundstrom is an award-winning journalist, author, artist and national special needs spokesperson. As an advocate of attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding, she encourages every woman to feel confident and courageous when feeding their babies.

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