“A new born baby has only three demands: warmth in the arms of his mother, food from her breasts and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three” – Anonymous.
After going through labor and delivery, the next step for new mothers is adjusting to breast feeding. With respect to our traditional and cultural values, most of us do not step away from breastfeeding unless required by a medical condition. But with changing times and preferences of people, devotion to career/work and determination to get back to pre-pregnancy figure, mothers are adopting powdered infant milk as a substitute to breast feeding. Some infants can also have certain medical conditions which makes it necessary to record how much milk are they drinking and formula milk helps keep exact measurement. Moreover, formula fed baby can have intimate relations with other members of the family as well, especially if the mother is not keeping good health.
What Is Powdered Or Formula Milk?
Essentially, powdered milk or formula is a substitute for breast milk. Not all women are able to produce breast milk enough to satiate their little ones. Some might have undergone serious breast operations and encounter certain predicaments while breast feeding whereas some are packed up in the busy world and do not have time to breast feed. Some babies, owing to certain medical conditions may also be fed formula milk. However, we cannot ignore the fact that breastmilk is the ideal food for a baby, and powdered milk is, in the end, an artificially manufactured food that goes against nature.
How Is Formula Milk Prepared?
Powdered milk is also known as dried milk that has been made by vaporizing the liquid content, leaving behind dry powder. Commercial formula milk is a complex combination of proteins, iron, sugars, fats, and vitamins and is manufactured in highly sterile conditions. Though new mothers may want to prepare their own baby formula, it is recommended to opt for commercial formulas so that the baby can get the maximum benefits.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Formula Milk
Mothers who are not in a position to breastfeed resort to feeding their babies with formula milk. Though formula is fortified in many minerals required by a growing baby, yet it lacks the important antibodies that breast milk provides to the baby to fight infections and grow. Formula fed babies also eat less, and owing to the fact that it is easily digestible, their stomach needs to do less work as well. Feeding powdered milk also means the mother can get more rest and the other members of the family can also participate in the growing and nurturing of the baby. But powdered milk is expensive, and is not at all a replacement of mother’s milk.
Advantages Of Powdered Milk For Babies
Infant formula nowadays comes packed with minerals and is the next best alternative to mother’s milk. Though it is strongly recommended to exclusively breastfeed a baby for the first six months of life, powdered does come in handy when the mother is not able to breastfeed the baby owing to personal or medical conditions. It may be noted that infant formula can never replicate the mother’s milk in totality.
- Added fortified nutrients: Some infant formulas are enriched with iron, calcium and vitamins which in case of breast milk depend on the dietary intake of the mother. This helps combat anemia in babies. This way the mother’s dependence on her diet is reduced
- Can be fed anytime, anywhere: Unlike breast milk which must be pumped and stored appropriately before use. Most of us find it difficult and embarrassing to breast feed the baby in public, in this situation infant formulas are a boon!
- Relieves any nipple discomfort: Sore nipples and unexpected leaks are common issues for the new mothers. Powdered infant milk relieves the mother from such discomfort and pain
- Feeding is no more only the mother’s chore: Yes one can pump and store breast milk, but what if you are too tired, sick or out of town? Powdered milk formula can be easily prepared by anyone and fed too
- Minimizes restrictions to the new mother: Since the nutrients from food eaten by mother is passed on to the baby through breast milk, mothers have to exercise caution in their dietary intake. For instance, caffeine/alcohol intake or herbal teas must be regulated. Powdered milk releases the new mum from such restrictions
- Can be measured: In cases where an infant is suffering from some disease and his feedings need to be monitored, formula milk scores a bit above breast milk
- Feeding frequency: Formula milk is not easily digestible, hence the baby feels full for longer times. This means mother get more time in between feedings as feeding frequency is less
Disadvantages Of Formula Milk For Babies
Apart from being the second choice to breastfeeding, powdered milk does have quite a few disadvantages as well, as listed below:
- Expensive: Breast milk is free, but infant formulas must be purchased. They are available from various brands and age-wise, so choosing them could be difficult too. Additional expenses are borne towards bottles and nipples expenses. Good quality and ample supplies must be purchased for frequent feeding. Spares must always be handy, in case one gets contaminated
- It requires more efforts:
- In terms of sterilizing the bottles and nipples as well as keeping them ready for the next feed
- The milk must be warmed and tested prior to feeding to the baby to prevent burning his mouth. Whereas, the breast milk is always correctly warm and ready to be fed to the baby
- The process of preparing the milk – warming water, mixing, transferring to bottle etc.
- Missing out on essential antibodies and growth hormones: These are naturally occurring in the breast milk and the commercially bought infant milk may be deprived of these necessary nutrients detrimental for baby’s growth. These also expose the baby to a greater risk of developing infections and falling sick
- Not very easily digested: The breast milk is very easily digested in contradiction to commercial powdered milk which contains synthetic nutrients. This may cause your little one to have an upset stomach or conditions such as constipation and gas in the baby
- Strips off the bonding period: “Breast milk is love turned into food it takes special someone to share that love” – Anonymous. Breast feeding is a very special experience and activity both, for the mum and the baby. The baby sucking on your breast with occasional eye contact and your touch is what connects you to the baby
Can I Use Both Formula And Breast Milk To Feed The Baby?
Experts around the globe stress on feeding a baby with mother’s milk – exclusively till first 5 months, and then till 12 months and further as far as possible. In cases where mothers opt for infant formula milk, owing to either personal or medical conditions, it may be advised to formula feed the baby. This can be helpful in cases where mother is not able to produce enough milk. If a baby is weaned before 12 months, he can be given iron fortified commercial formula milk though cow’s milk is still suggested to be avoided.
Although it’s the personal decision of the mother to choose whether to breast feed or switch to powdered infant milk, most doctors and health institutes suggest that formula milk should not be used to supplement breast milk. The advantages are not just limited to the baby, but for the mother too. Breast feeding relaxes the mum and helps in losing weight too. Breastfeeding has found to reduce the risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Here are some amazing benefits of breastfeeding for mother.
“While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for the baby” – Amy Sponger