Pros/Cons of Breastfeeding

Beth - posted on 07/02/2013 ( 12 moms have responded )

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I don't really want to breast feed. As much as I know I will love and do anything for my little one, the thought of breast feeding is very strange and weird to me.

I'm also nervous about what it will do to my breasts. Will they look strange after? Will it hurt? Is it really that much better than formula? My husband has also dropped hints that he doesn't want me to breastfeed either and I want to honor his desires.

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Sally - posted on 07/04/2013

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It's not just much, much better for the baby. It's also much, much better for you and it's a lot cheaper and less work than formula. You never have to buy it, mix it, keep track of recalls, warm bottles, etc.
It's the absolute best thing you can do for your baby's digestive and immune systems. It lessens their chances of allergies, asthma, and all childhood illnesses (especially ear infections) in the short term and lessens their chances of diabetes, cholesterol issues, obesity, most chronic digestive concerns, and all female cancers over their entire life. It will get your uterus back where it belongs faster, help you lose the baby weight (in fact part of your pregnancy weight gain is special fat pads on your thighs that are almost impossible to get rid of without breastfeeding or liposuction), and lessens your chances of all female cancers and PPD.
It can hurt a little when you are still getting used to it and it can hurt a lot if the baby isn't latched properly, but both of those are easily fixed with proper support. Some people think it can make your breasts sag, but that is actually caused by a combination of age, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy hormones. It can make them a little smaller when you're done because when your milk glands build up they push the fat that is most of your breast mass out of the way and sometimes that fat is too lazy to come back when the glands subside, but the difference is rarely large enough for the public to notice.
We like to say "breast is best", but actually breastfeeding is the norm. Formula was originally intended as a barely passable substitute for the very few women who are physically incapable of nursing their children until large corporations found they could make lots of money by peddling it. Those corporations work very hard to synthesize some of the common things in most breastmilk to claim their product is as good, but breastmilk not only has thousands of ingredients we haven't even classified yet much less attempted to synthesize and your breastmilk will be slightly different every time your child nurses to make sure they are getting the exact mix of calories, vitamins, antibodies, etc. that they need at any given moment.
Why does your husband not want you to nurse your child? Is he just unfamiliar with the concept? Sadly, our culture has worked very hard to convince us that breasts are primarily sexual objects and that using them for the purpose for which they were intended is somehow "dirty". Many husbands start with that view, but when they find out how much healthier nursing will make their wives and children, the good ones come around to it very quickly.

Denikka - posted on 07/03/2013

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There are lots of health benefits to breastfeeding. There are studies that show higher IQ, better immune systems, etc. Not only is it better for baby, but it's also beneficial to you. Breastfeeding right away can help get your uterus back in shape more quickly and effectively plus it can help prevent hemorrhaging right after birth (formula moms usually get artificial help right after birth, but are on their own for the next few days).
Breastfeeding can help prevent your period from coming back as quickly (which was a HUGE plus for me. I breastfed for the first year, didn't have a period until over 16 months after baby was born :P)
Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of a number of cancers, not to mention its a good way to rev up your metabolism and burn calories to lose that baby weight.
Breastfeeding can also be good for your mental health. Studies have shown that mothers who breastfeed tend to have less problem with things like post-partum depression and anxiety.
Convenience was also a huge factor for me. I know a lot of people say that formula is more convenient, but I don't personally get that. Breastfeeding, you just flip up your shirt, latch baby, and you're good. Formula has to be premixed or at least prepacked any time you go anywhere.
Breastfed babies tend to have way less gross poops. Okay, a bit gross and TMI I know, but all the formula fed babies I have come across have had GROSS smelly diapers while the breastfed ones tend not to smell nearly as much and tend to form earlier.
And, lastly, it's FREE while formula costs a small fortune (depending on brand and location you're looking at roughly $10-$30 for a large can, which will last roughly a week, so that's $40-$120 a month for at least the first 6 months)

As for the benefits of formula, it does come with some. You don't have to worry about pumping if you want to go out, or deal with having to pump and dump if you're have a couple of drinks. You don't need to deal with engorgement or any of the discomfort that breastfeeding can lead to (cracked nipples, bad latches, etc, so to answer one of your other questions, yes, it CAN hurt, but that doesn't mean that it WILL). It can also help with dad bonding time, especially in the middle of the night :P (you can absolutely pump and bottle feed and let dad do it that way as well though).
While formula feeding can have it's benefits, I don't feel like they could possibly outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding.

That being said, it is your choice. No one can tell you what to do or how to do it. The thing is, that even breastfeeding for a short time can have huge health benefits. The first 6 weeks are super important for things like passing on immunities. Personally, what I would suggest, is that you try it out. Give it a couple weeks and see how you feel. The thing about breastfeeding is that there is a relatively limited window. If you don't use it, you will stop producing milk, and if you change your mind a few weeks/months down the road, it can be very difficult (sometimes impossible) to start up again. At least if you give it a go and change your mind, you can feel good that you made an informed choice. Like our parents have said for many generations *how do you know you don't like it until you try it*. You won't really know how you feel until and unless you try it, and you can always stop at any time :)

As an added note, Sarah is right. It's the pregnancy that affects your boobs, not really the breastfeeding. Pregnancy changes your body in a lot of ways, that just happens to be one of them.

Danielle - posted on 07/11/2013

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Pros
perfect amount of nutrients for baby
decreases risk for allergies
decreases risk for ear infections
decrease risk for SIDS
decrease risk for diabetes
decrease risk for obesity
more bonding between you and your baby
you'll lose weight faster
decreases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer
saves you time and money
Cons
nothing

Bernadette - posted on 07/06/2013

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the thought of it before you've done it can seem very weird! But it doesn't take long for that feeling to go away, and then you get used to it and it just becomes normal.

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Mrs. - posted on 07/12/2013

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No matter what you choose your breasts and body will look different afterward. So, I wouldn't let the idea that your boobs will look more "weird" if you do affect your decision.

You sound pretty young (I'm just getting this from a few of your posts), you'll probably snap back pretty well, if that's the case.

Yes, learning how to breastfeed can be uncomfortable. Your nipples can, on occasion, crack and bleed before you are able to get the hang of it. You can also get a blocked duct and it can get infected (and that can hurt).

For the most part, though, these are blips that pop up. However, you should inform yourself about the negatives (and there are some, despite the benefits of it) if you are considering it, as much as you do the positives.

In the end, both choices are fine. A lot of women do both. I started out EBF my daughter and found it didn't work for me. I slowly began supplementing and then found bottle feeding fit us best.

You won't REALLY know until you try for yourself. You can always give it a go at the hospital and if you find it's not your thing—don't do it.

Danielle - posted on 07/11/2013

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Also you should not start baby cereal or baby food until at least three months

Lana - posted on 07/08/2013

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Then don't breastfeed.... In the society of today you aren't forced to do anything.. I breastfeed because it is easier for my daughter to digest, I LOVE the bonding and I just detest giving my child formula. IDC about the look of my breasts because my daughters health is more important. To add YES breastfeeding did cause me horrible pain for the first 6 weeks because I have flat nipples and my breasts are exceedingly sensitive. The look on her little face when she is snuggled in close to me nursing and getting ready for a nap fills me with more joy than bottle feeding ever could. Formula is fine to give baby. It has been on the market for years so obviously it is safe, so don't let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do.

Enna - posted on 07/08/2013

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I suggest trying it at the hospital, and if it's too weird, then stop. If you're not comfortable doing it you're going to have problems having enough milk. If you're worried about your husband, make sure he reads about all the benefits of breastfeeding.
I agree with all the good things that were said about breastfeeding. I breastfed, then formula fed both of my girls. They are in great health (6 and 13).
I was determined to breastfeed my kids, so I did for as long as I could. But growing up, I never knew a single person who breastfed their baby. It didn't used to be as "cool" as it is now.
Whatever choice you make is perfectly fine. Don't let anyone bully you about your choice.

Leslie - posted on 07/04/2013

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I try and did the bottle three days after she was born. also did cereal month later. I need my sleep plus I was raise different. I knew my daughter was ready. she is now 37in and only 2 1/2.

Ashley - posted on 07/04/2013

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Both sarah and denikka are right and they summed up the pros and cons pretty well. Both of my children were breastfed for 3 mo then went to formula after.

Sarah - posted on 07/03/2013

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Do what you feel comfortable with. There are lots of pros and cons for both ways of feeding. Big thing is is what works for you. As far as breastfeeding affecting your breasts that is more the pregnancy that changes them not the breastfeeding....just one of the many jobs of how your body changes after you have kids. ;)

I have 3 kids. The first was all formula fed. The second was breastfed and formula fed. The third was all breastfed. Each one has turned out healthy and you would never know who got what.

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