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SALT LAKE CITY — There tends to be a lot of controversy over the subject of breast-feeding.
While it’s true that breast-feeding provides well-documented benefits to both mother and child, I fear the conversation has reached a point where many women do not breast-feed consider themselves failures.
So, what is the right way? Do you need to make it a priority to breast-feed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an infant be breast-fed for the first six months of his or her life. Breast milk, is by design, the most well-balanced natural diet there is.
Ask Nurse Suzy
But if you do not want to breast-feed, or cannot for any number of reasons, it’s OK. Your child will not be harmed in anyway. His or her future will not be made worse by this choice. He or she is not guaranteed to have more illnesses during childhood than babies who are breast-fed. You do not need to go to extreme measures to ensure your child has breast milk.
Today’s formulas are well-balanced and provide, if not all, pretty close to the same nutrients breast milk contains. The combination of minerals and vitamins in formulas must be FDA-approved, and the type of formula you use can be changed according to your child’s needs. For example, if your child shows symptoms of a milk allergy or intolerance (i.e. upset stomach, colic or nasal congestion) you can switch to a non-lactose or soy formula.
It’s important to note, as the BabyCenter.com Medical Advisory Board says, “While they can't pass along the resistance to infection that mother's milk does, formulas provide ample nourishment for a growing baby.”
Many very intelligent and productive people have been raised on formula. Please do not needlessly punish yourself for your decision not to breast-feed.
On the other hand, if you do choose to breast-feed, I admire your dedication. Breast-feeding takes a lot of time and balance. Mothers must have a well-balanced diet and good mental health to produce enough for their child’s needs. For many women this is the most fulfilling endeavor they will ever take on. It is a very important part of motherhood and should not be taken lightly.
There are also many benefits breast-feeding provides for both mother and child. WomensHealth.gov, lists the following.
- Early breast milk is liquid gold (very rich in nutrients and antibodies).
- Your breast milk changes as your baby grows, providing just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein to help your baby continue to grow.
- Breast milk is easier for baby to digest.
- Cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk help to prevent illness.
- Life can be easier when you breastfeed (no bottles or nipples to clean).
- Breastfeeding can save money.
- Breastfeeding can feel great.
- Breastfeeding can help a mother lower her risk for some diseases.
In the end, it makes no difference whether you choose formula or breast milk to feed your baby. What is important is making sure your child is taken care of and gets a well-balanced diet — something both formula feeding and breast-feeding provide.
Suzanne Carlile, "Nurse Suzy," has been a nurse since 1982. Her main focus is critical care and nursing education. She holds a master's degree in nursing, is a Certified Emergency Nurse, and a member of NNSDO Intermountain West Chapter.