One of the most important decisions an expectant mother has to make is whether or not to breastfeed her newborn. Whether she chooses formula or opts for breastfeeding, she needs to weight the pros and cons of each to determine which method is best for her and her baby. The American Academy of Pediatricians recognizes that breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for newborns. Whether a new mother chooses to pump her breast milk, transfer it to a bottle or feed her newborn at the breast, the positive effects of breastfeeding are well-documented.
Breast milk contains minerals and whey proteins that are gentler on an infant's digestive system than commercial formulas. Almost half of the iron found in breast milk is absorbed, as opposed to only about 4% of iron from formula. Furthermore, breast milk contains essential fatty acids, probiotics, growth factors and immunoglobulins. It also is rich in anti-inflammatory substances and growth factors to enhance the development of the gastrointestinal system.
Newborn babies have immature immune systems. Because of this, they are very susceptible to any microorganisms they are exposed to. Breast-fed babies enjoy a multitude of antibodies received through maternal breast milk, providing them with an enhanced ability to fight infection. It is because of these maternal antibodies that breast-fed newborns may get sick less often than their bottle-fed counterparts.
Breastfeeding is convenient because it requires no mixing in the middle of the night or heating bottles. Breast milk is always the right temperature and ready to use. Furthermore, breast milk is portable so that mothers need not be concerned about forgetting to pack bottles in the diaper bag. One of the few concerns new mothers face when breastfeeding is determining whether or not they will need to purchase a breast pump, should they decide to feed via a bottle.
Breastfeeding your baby is the most cost-effective method of feeding. You do not need to purchase formula, sterilizers, mixing devices or bottle warmers. Although powdered formulas that are mixed with water are less expensive than premixed canned formula, the cost still adds up.
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