Primehealth Medical Center, P.C.
Primehealth Medical Center, P.C.

Is Breastfeeding the Best Option?

    Nowadays, breastfeeding is not the only option available to mothers. Commercially prepared infant formulas provide a nutritious alternative that provide some vitamins and minerals that even breastmilk cannot. With a wide array of formulas available, some new or soon-to-be moms may be wondering if breastfeeding is still the best option for their new baby. 

    Although commercially prepared infant formulas do provide a nutritious alternative in some cases, many healthcare professionals still recommend breastfeeding as being the better options. In particular, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization promote the notion that exclusive breastfeeding is the best choice for the first six months and encourages it continues until at least twelve months, if not longer.  
    Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies, including fighting infections, being nutritious and easily digestible, and promoting skin-to-skin contact. Babies who are breastfed have been found to be healthier and report fewer instances of infection and hospitalization than formula-fed babies. This is because the breast milk is loaded with antibodies and other essential nutrients. Breast milk is also composed of lactose, protein, and fat, which are all easily digested by newborns. In fact, babies who are breastfed have lower rates of constipation or diarrhea, and their spit ups and bowel movements have less odor. Finally, the act of breastfeeding promotes skin-to-skin contact, which is important for bonding between mother and child. 
    In addition to having benefits for the baby, breastfeeding also has benefits for the mother as well. For starters, breastfeeding helps to return the uterus to its normal size and decreases the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. It also burns calories and uses up fat stores, helping the mother to lose weight and get back into pre-baby shape. Breastfeeding also suppresses ovulation and menstruation, which protects iron stores. Finally, breast milk is also free and convenient, since it is a naturally-occurring substance, which will save time and money.  
    However, breastfeeding may not be an ideal option for everyone. There are certain circumstances in which other options may be needed in place of exclusive breastfeeding. For example, if mom is taking certain medications or is infected with a virus, then breastfeeding is not recommended since both can pass through the breastmilk. Specifically, mothers undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, or those taking anxiety, migraine, or sleep-aid medications are not recommended to breastfeed. If you are taking medications, you should check with your pediatrician before breastfeeding. Also, viruses such as HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, or human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or II are not recommended to breastfeed. 
    Breastfeeding may also not be recommended if the baby is failing to thrive or if it has been diagnosed with galactosemia. In some cases, a baby may not receive enough calories from breast milk and may be unable to grow at a steady and constant rate. In these cases, the baby may benefit from having a formula supplement to provide extra calories. A formula may also be necessary for baby’s that are diagnosed with galactosemia, or an inability to digest galactose. Galactose is found in breastmilk, therefore breastfeeding would be more detrimental than beneficial in this case. 


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