Bottle-feeding vs. Breastfeeding: Pros and Cons

Among the many decisions every expecting mother must make, how we choose to feed our new little bundles is one of the most important. It probably seems everyone in your life has an opinion on this: your mother, your neighbor, your grandmother, your co-worker, your friend, your friend’s co-workers’ grandmother… and the list goes on. While advice and opinions on this matter may be well-intentioned, they can also tend to be overwhelming for a mother-to-be. Each mother must carefully consider both options and make an informed decision on what is best for her and her baby.

We have all heard the motto “Breast is Best”. It is plastered on our ob/gyn’s wall, in our pregnancy books and we even hear it on television. However, there are pros and cons for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding alike.

Breastfeeding

Pros:

  • Can create a unique closeness between you and your baby.
  • May help you lose weight faster – Breastfeeding burns up to 600 calories a day. Of course, a mother who is breastfeeding needs to consume more calories a day. Talk to your nutrition specialist about your diet so that you may optimize your weight loss while breastfeeding.
  • Helps the uterus to shrink faster and reduces bleeding
  • Decreases your risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and strengthens bone density
  • Enhances your baby’s immune system – There is nothing on the market that will match the natural antibodies found in your breast milk.
  • Reduces your baby’s risk of upper respiratory problems (asthma, allergies, etc.), chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, hypertension, etc.), and SIDS
  • Babies who are breastfed are more likely to excel in school
  • Breast milk may be easier for your child to digest – Some breastfed babies spit up less often than their formula-fed peers. This, however, is not a hard and fast rule.
  • Content in breast milk changes to suit your baby’s changing needs – The colostrum milk (a thick, sticky substance usually yellow to orange in color) produced during pregnancy and in the early days of breastfeeding works as a laxative to help your baby pass his early stools. It also works as a “vaccine” to protect your baby from environmental viruses in his early stages of life. After about two or three days, your milk supply will change to mature breast milk (thinner, opaque to white substance).
  • Less expensive than buying formula – Breastfeeding is not necessarily “free”. Breastfeeding mothers must invest in nursing bras and breast pads to prevent leaking. However, on a long term basis, this is still less expensive than buying formula.
  • Available anytime, anywhere

Cons:

  • Increases your risk for breast infection or mastitis
  • Higher levels of jaundice are found in babies who are breastfed
  • Baby may get dehydrated easier
  • Risk of cavities in infants who are breastfed for over a year – Please note, however, that the risk of cavities is still higher for formula-fed babies.
  • Risk of rickets (vitamin-D deficiency) – especially in darker skinned babies
  • Not necessarily convenient – Although promotion for breastfeeding has made leaps and bounds over the years, there are few places in public that cater to the breastfeeding mother. Many mothers can end up feeling very frustrated over this severe oversight.
  • Must always be available for feeding or provide pumped breast milk if absent – After a long pregnancy and grueling delivery, a new mother needs her rest to recover. Newborns must eat every two to three hours for the first weeks of life. The constant caring for her newborn can leave an already tired mother feeling even more fatigued.
  • First weeks of breastfeeding may be very painful
  • Certain medications can interrupt breastfeeding
  • Your diet can have an effect on the baby

Bottle-feeding

Pros:

  • Allows father and other family members to bond with baby – This also allows the mother to get some much needed rest or “alone” time.
  • Sometimes more convenient – Once the bottle is made you can feed your baby anytime anywhere.
  • You don’t have to worry so much about your diet as it won’t affect your baby
  • Easier to monitor the amount of food your baby is eating
  • Some formulas provide vitamins and nutrients that breastfed babies have to get through supplements
  • Since most formulas are richer than breast milk, frequency of feedings may be decreased

Cons:

  • Although nutritious on their own, formulas just don’t match the antibodies and nutrients of breast milk
  • You will have to strictly follow the preparation instructions – Unless you buy pre-made formula (which only lasts a few hours in the refrigerator once opened) you will have to go through the tedious process of boiling water for each bottle for at least the first six months.
  • According to your baby’s preference, you may have to warm up the bottle before each feeding – This is especially inconvenient while out and about.
  • Baby’s stomach may be more easily upset with formula as it is harder to digest
  • More expensive – Depending on the brand you choose, formula can cost between $50 and $200 per month.

There are so many decisions you have ahead of you with regards to yours and your baby’s well-being. You shouldn’t have to feel pressured to go one way or the other when it comes to whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby.  Every mother’s set of circumstances is different. Every baby is different. Choose which option is best for both of you and move on with this wonderful new phase of your life. Afterall, the most important thing you can give to your baby is your love and affection – and that isn’t hard at all!

Related Podcasts:

CNN Pediatrics Journal: Breastfeeding Saves Lives and Money

This can be a touchy subject in Mommy World, so I want to be careful…

There is a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, according to CNN:

If most new moms would breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, it would save nearly 1,000 lives and billions of dollars each year.

I don’t care for the way that’s written.  “If most new moms would breastfeed” sounds like scolding.  And since the CDC reports that only 74% of new moms even try nursing, it’s scolding a lot of loving and well-intentioned women.

Despite my problem with the tone of that statement, however, I have no trouble believing those numbers.  I have interviewed eleventy billion experts who say that while formula is indeed “nutritionally sound”, it’s not mother’s milk.

They call the first doses of mother’s milk your baby eats liquid gold.  Colostrum comes in small doses, but packs a huge punch.  Not only does your colostrum provide the exact things your specific baby needs for optimum health, it does a bunch of other things, like coat and seal your baby’s GI tract, decreasing eventual allergy risks.

And, in fact, your milk evolves with your baby.  When you nurse, you and your baby are interacting on a biological level.  Your baby’s saliva on your skin is telling your body “Hey, Mom, I need a little more of this and a little less of that.”  The composition of the milk you make changes in response to that.

Mother’s milk is a designer product!

Formula is nutritionally sound.  But it’s not a designer product.  It can’t be.  It would cost a jillion dollars if it was!

You also can’t underestimate the value of early nursing to the cognitive and emotional development of your baby in a way that has nothing to do with milk.  The closeness, the skin-to-skin contact, the actually physical connection you make with your baby on a sometimes exhaustingly frequent basis encourages healthy attachment.  I’m not talking about the mother-infant bond, here.  You and your baby will be bonded no matter how you choose to feed them.  Attachment is a much broader concept that includes all aspects of child development.

Nursing encourages secure attachment beautifully.

This is not to say formula fed babies cannot be securely attached!  My daughter was combo-fed (formula and human milk) and is quite securely attached.  Nursing moms can also be insecurely attached to their babies.  Every mom and baby are different.

It’s just that nursing is one nice and effective way to foster secure attachment.

I’m so very glad the article doesn’t go much further into the scolding area of this debate.  One of the study’s authors, Harvard Dr. Melissa Bartick, says:

Moms shouldn’t be blamed, because they receive mixed messages and often lack support from the moment their babies are born.

Ain’t that the truth!  And…

(Bartick) says the biggest priority should be to improve maternity care practices. Bartick refers to a 2007 CDC survey of hospitals and birthing centers, which scored each facility to determine how well it complied with recommendations meant to encourage women to breastfeed.

According to that survey, Bartick says, “U.S. hospitals scored a 63 – that’s a D.”

Hear, Hear!  I am all about improved maternity care!

The point I’m trying to make out of all of this meandering is this.  We all know breast is best.  Blah blah blah.  We’ve heard it until we don’t even hear it anymore.  But the fact is, mother’s milk is superior to the nutritionally sound alternative of formula for so many reasons.

So for the 26% of you who aren’t even thinking about trying it…why not just consider — just consider doing it for a few days, a least until your baby has a body full of colostrum?

You can do anything for a couple of days, right?

That is my challenge to you…<3

Related Podcasts:

How Will The Health Care Bill Affect My Pregnancy?

The recent passing of the health care bill has been big news this week. While there are those who are thrilled with the news and those who are less than excited, one thing remains true – in form or another, this bill will have an affect on every person in some form or another. However, it can be hard to cut through all of the excess and figure out the hard facts.

A question many pregnant women are facing today is:

How will the health care bill affect my pregnancy?

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has been quoted saying that the bill features help for women’s health care issues: “It’s personal for women. After we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition.”

Immediate Effects For Women:

  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to charge higher premiums on the basis of gender.
  • All health plans will also now be required to cover maternity and newborn care, as well as pediatric services expanded to include dental and vision care.
  • Medicaid will expand services to pregnant women and new mothers, offering more family planning services, home visiting programs and postpartum education and support.
  • Working moms will also get a boost, as employers will be required to offer breaks and space for nursing mothers to pump breast milk.

Read more about how the health care bill affects women at Forbes.com.

Check out The Washington Post for a calculator to find out how the health bill will affect your health care costs.

Circumcision: It’s YOUR choice!

The New York Times says “Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.”

I do not understand this at all.

The study on which this idea is based was done awhile back on African men in an area where AIDS is rampant and condom use is rare. I cannot imagine a study with less relevance to the lives of American men.

If American men are practicing safe sex — i.e. condoms use, etc — what does their foreskin have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. So are we promoting safe sex, or are we promoting circumcision, CDC? I don’t get it?

(Oh, and by the way, another study of African men found that circumcision did nothing, nothing at all, to prevent the transmission of HIV to women. Circumcised men in Africa infect women at the same rate as uncircumcised men. So moms, we’d better be teaching our little girls about safe sex and condom use regardless of whether their partner is circumcised or not.)

I have not spoken with a single doctor who says there is any reason at all to recommend routine circumcision of boy babies, and I have talked to a lot of doctors. It is a choice parents can make, and many do, for many reasons. That is what is great about being a parent…you get to make that choice.

If you choose to circumcise your boy baby, I support you in that choice (which is actually none of my business, anyway, so who cares what I think?). There are religious reasons and cultural reasons and personal reasons that make circumcision the best choice for many families.

If you don’t choose to circumcise your boy baby, that is also a perfectly valid choice. According to Baylor College of Medicine pediatrician Dr. Sara Rizvi (and she is far from alone), there is no medical reason to circumcise .

I, personally, would never choose to circumcise a boy child (barring some great new revelation about the practice), even if the Centers for Disease Control was actively promoting it, particularly if that promotion was based on the suspect assertion that the practice might decrease the H.I.V. infection rate in America.

That is my choice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend circumcision of baby boys. I does not not recommend it. It’s the Switzerland of the circ debate. It says (although I understand it may be rethinking its language)…

“Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In circumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child.”

The bolding and italics were added by me lol, because that’s how I feel. This is a parent’s decision. No one else’s. What you decide for your baby is no one else’s business.

The end.

For much more on caring for your newborn, from their foreskin (or circumcision) to their belly button and so much more, please listen to what our wonderful pediatrician has to say in our Pea in the Podcast on Caring For Your Newborn.

My Daughter’s Car Seat Saved Her Life

One gray morning last week my daughter and I were in a terrible car accident.

My beautiful four year old and I careened off the road at between 60 and 70 miles an hour. We launched through a guardrail and began to roll. I don’t know how many times.

Then, in a quiet field in rural Texas, motion stopped.

Most of this I know because it has been told to me. I have been told that my car and another collided along the highway. We were traveling the speed limit, but that was fast. I lost control of my SUV.

I lost control.

My baby was in the car.

I remember snapshots. Frozen images on which I fixate. I can’t remember what came before. I can’t remember what came after. So I loop what I remember until I realize my heart is racing, I’m drenched in sweat and I’ve lost my breath.

I see a guardrail. I think of my baby. I see an airbag. The fabric has a pattern on it. I think of my baby. I smell something acrid like gunpowder. I think of my baby.

The car rests. There is a shower of blood.

I think of my baby.

“Baby, are you okay?” (Please God, please let my baby be okay)

“I’m okay, mommy!”

I turn to see the eager face of my saucer-eyed child. It looks…it looks like she might really be okay!

She didn’t have a single scratch on her. Not one. Her perfect pink skin remains unbroken. Unblemished. Unbruised.

The blood was all mine. Thank God. I am recovering from a head and hip wound after being taken by helicopter to the hospital, but I, too, am okay.

This is what remains of my SUV.

How is it even possible that my daughter was unhurt?

She was firmly strapped into her car seat with its five point harness. That car seat was tightly connected to the “latches” embedded in the rear seat of the car. It was positioned in the center.*

I am not one to advertise for a particular brand of car seat (unless they’re paying me obscene amounts of money lol. Not the case here). The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration says “all car seats rated by NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards.” You can evaluate the safety of the car seat you’ve chosen for your child here. I don’t think you have to go deeply into debt to get a safe car seat for your baby.

That said, my child was protected by her Britax Marathon. Her head does not yet reach the top of this particular child safety seat, and the sides seem to surround her. I think that may have shielded her from the variety of things that were flying around as we were rolling.

But I believe the most important contributing factor to my daughter’s survival of this devastating crash was the proper installation of the seat, and the fact that she was properly strapped in. In fact, a police officer has told me as much. But this is not as simple as it seems.

The good folks at SeatCheck.org tell us 7 out of 10 kids in child safety seats are not buckled in properly. The NHTSA tells us motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between 2 and 14 years old. I think that is reason enough to check your car seat. Make sure it’s properly installed. Make sure you know how to buckle your baby in correctly.

You don’t have to figure this out on your own.

The NHTSA knows who the experts in child safety seat installation and use are where you live, and they have a searchable database. It wouldn’t hurt to stop by and let the experts help you out.

This isn’t the first time we at Pea in the Podcast have talked about child safety seats, and it probably won’t be the last. Hopefully it will be the last time I will share such a personal story with you about the importance of car seats and proper installation.

Please, take another look at the picture at the top of this blog posting. The newspaper photo.

That’s my car.

That’s my baby.

Alive. Amen.

-Bonnie

*Several smart parents have informed me that many cars do not have “latches” for center positioning, so please check your owner’s manual before latching your car seat in the center.

Top Baby Names of 2008: Make Way for Emma!

OK, moms-to-be, get out your list of names. Today’s the day you find out if every child in America has the name you have your heart set on for your baby.

For 2008, the top name for girls — after 12 years of Emily supremacy — is Emma. Emma also happens to be my dog’s name. It’s very confusing on the playground! ;)

Number one for boys, for the tenth year in a row………..(drumroll, please)…..

Jacob.

Here are the top names of 2008, according to the SSA

  1. Jacob
    Emma
  2. Michael
    Isabella
  3. Ethan
    Emily
  4. Joshua
    Madison
  5. Daniel
    Ava
  6. Alexander
    Olivia
  7. Anthony
    Sophia
  8. William
    Abigail
  9. Christopher
    Elizabeth
  10. Matthew
    Chloe
    Note: Rank 1 is the most popular, rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth.

Some unusual names made their debut on the SSA hot 1,000 this year…

These names include Isla (623), Mareli (718), Dayami (750), Nylah (821) and Jazlene (831) to name a few for the girls. For the boys: Aaden (No. 343), Chace (655), Marley (764), Kash (779), Kymani (836), Ishaan (851), Jadiel (874) and Urijah (889). Social Security officials expressed hope that parents were not naming their sons Marley after the badly behaved dog who starred in the movie “Marley and Me.” Beckham also made the list for the first time, coming in at number 893—undoubtedly influenced by the arrival in the United States of British soccer star David Beckham.

…and a shout out to the President!

The name everybody is wondering about, Barack, did not make this year’s top 1,000 boy’s list, but it did set what is believed to be a record by skyrocketing more than 10,000 spots in rising from number 12,535 in 2007 to 2,409 in 2008. Social Security’s sophisticated predictive models are forecasting an increase well into the top 1,000 for Barack for 2009.

Another spelling of the popular boy’s name “Aidan” (my daughter’s name) has made it’s way on to the list (Aaden). Greeeeeeeeaaaaaaaat. ;)

The Social Security Administration doesn’t account for alternative spellings when it compiles its list, but our baby naming expert does. Jennifer Moss wrote the book on baby names, and here is Moss’s list of the big baby names for 2008. Aidan has been the number one boys’ name there for a long, long, long time.

I spoke with Jennifer in our Pea in the Podcast: What’s in a Name? about what you can do if you have your heart set on a name that is overwhelmingly popular these days, like Aidan (meaning: little fire) or Emma or Emily or Jacob. In fact, naming your baby is such a momumental responsibility, it might be a good idea to give this podcast a listen no matter what you’re thinking about naming your baby! Jennifer is a great resource for all things having to do with naming your baby.

Good luck with this intimidating decision!

Remember, Pea in the Podcast has a fan page on Facebook. Please join us! We’d love to have you.

We also tweet. We’d love it if you’d follow us on Twitter.

-Bonnie