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By nature, mothers feed their newborn by breast milk. In the past, they even had to ask for their neighbors if they did not have enough milk. Later with the development of science, infant formula was invented to do the same job as human milk. However, because of its excellent nutritional and health benefits, nutritionists highly promote mothers to breastfeed their baby unless there is a certain medical reason not to. These typical causes can be HIV or tuberculosis which can spread to infants. Should a woman be unable to produce enough milk, she could feed all the amount she can generate and then complement with infant milk. As a small volume of mothers’ milk can be extremely constructive for the baby. Yet, according to a report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among infants born in 2015 in the United States, 24.9% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months. The increasing number of mothers choosing bottle feeding for convenience in the twenty-first century raises an alert for society. Before making the decision on whether to breastfeed, bottle-feed with baby milk, or combination, parents should consider advantages between the two for the sake of the newborn.
It is known that human milk is a unique mixture whose composition changes with time, ensuring vital nutrition for the infant. Likewise, breastfeeding supplies the balance of fat and protein, which is ideal for a quickly myelinating nervous system. The baby in the first year needs exceptional care for its healthy development and brain growth. The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and inclusive breast milk in the infant’s diet until at least 1 year. Breast milk that also consists of many necessary vitamins and minerals is naturally intended to feed an infant, so it is easy to be absorbed and digested. Breastfed babies are protected against many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, ear/respiratory infections, or even SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), which is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a healthy baby less than a year old. This is because breastfeeding helps enhance functioning of the immune system passively. Clearly, a baby’s immune system is underdeveloped, equaling only one percent that of an adult. Parts of the immune system response, called immunoglobulins (Ig), are delivered from the mother’s immune system to the baby and give it short-term immunity to the things the mother has become sensitized to. Lactoferrin in breast milk supports to destroy bacteria, viruses (such as Rotavirus), fungi, and cancer cells. This explains why nursing babies are mostly healthier and tend to have less digestive trouble than bottle-fed ones. Breast milk contains infection-fighting antibodies that formula companies have no way to accurately imitate the contents of breast milk. Breastfeeding is actually an investment in health, not just a lifestyle decision.
Breastfeeding not only does the newborn good but it also benefits for moms. Certain studies suggest that the mothers who breastfeed rarely develop breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis later in life. They may also avoid developing Type 2 Diabetes. Through breastfeeding, oxytocin which promotes of close bonding between a mom and the baby is released. Breastfeeding can also promote maternal hormonal processes with psychological benefits.
“We already know that neonatal sucking stimulates oxytocin and prolactin release both having analgesic, relaxing, anti-depressant and anxiolytic effects. Furthermore, during lactation and during breastfeeding sessions, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol plasma levels decreased. The secretion of cortisol and ACTH are related to stress responses and this mechanism could explain the reduced risk of postpartum depression in these mothers”.
Furthermore, human milk does not cost a penny, while the price of formula rapidly adds up and formula is less convenient at night as it needs time to prepare the bottle. Breastfed infants are comparatively healthier, so less money is spent for prescriptions and hospital services. As usual, nursing mothers require 500 calories per day to produce milk, which should come from plenty of healthy foods. Through its mom’s milk, breastfed babies passively taste these traditional dishes, and they will more easily accept solid foods later. Another big plus is breast milk is always fresh and ready for use.
Needless to say, bottled milk cannot be as good as breast milk. However, it does have some advantages for which mothers choose it as a perfect substitute. If prepared properly, it supplies nutritional content. During the first few months of life, formula-fed babies wake less often at night, take more naps, and sleep for longer stretches than nursing babies. That is because formula takes more time and effort to digest. In addition, the leading cause of cessation of breastfeeding in the early months is milk insufficiency. This is the reason why bottle feeding is preferred. Likewise, when feeding the infant with formula, parents can measure exactly how much food enough for their little one per time. More noticing, bottle feeding helps parents share the work of feeding. While breastfed babies usually need to eat every two or three hours, formula allows anyone in the family to help nourish the babies, and the mother does always not have to stay side by side with the newborn. Obviously, economic burden is the thing many families must face, and some jobs require moms come back to work as soon as possible. Furthermore, bottle feeding in public is easily accepted as well as it is common knowledge that many mothers are afraid to expose their breast in public when their little angels are hungry. Further, mothers do not have to worry too much about their diet to meet the needs of their baby. Caffeine, alcohol, and calorie intake are more possible. Mothers who may take some medications are not afraid that they happen to transmit undesirable chemicals to their baby. Nursing mums are recommended to take in about 500 calories per day, which make her gain weight effortlessly.
From analysis above, though bottle feeding has become common, breastfeeding, especially during the first six months, is still the best choice for the baby’s entire development not only in childhood, but also in adult life, if mothers do not have any special medical situations. Nonetheless, for moms who cannot breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is a beneficial alternative. Bottle feeding similarly provides babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Indeed, bottle feeding has some superior advantages over breastfeeding. Additionally, mothers will always create a special bond with their children no matter how they feed their infants. Remember, nobody can understand the baby better than its mom.
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