Ok, so as a mom of three, I have a "little" experience feeding babies. Thought, most of it was with a bottle. I bottle fed my first, started breast feeding my second, but gave up, and now, with my third, I am exclusively breastfeeding. Here are my thoughts on the pro's and con's of both.
Lets start with bottle feeding:
- others can help feed the baby
- you can feed baby anywhere without awkward glances and comments
-formula is expensive, and produces trash (ie, the empty cans, lids)
- bottles are not expensive, but not free
- bottles have to be washed, constantly
- formula is not milk, not even close. it is a concoction of chemicals that are made to be similar to milk, but it is no where close to natural
- bottle fed babies are sick more often
Now on to breast feeding:
- it's free
- it promotes bonding between mom and baby
- baby is less likely to be sick, as an infant, and as they get older
- breastfeeding lowers mom's risk of osteoporosis and certain cancers
- there is no trash to throw away
- no bottles to wash
- baby's poops are less smelly :)
- breast feeding is recomended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the best way to feed baby
- mom does all the feeding (though if you pump, dad or some other family member can help with feeding, so this is only a part-con)
- mom will not get 8 full hours of sleep for a while after baby is born (unless using expressed breast milk for dad or others to help with feeding)
So, by my tally, breast feeding wins by a landslide. But you don't have to take my word for it. There are multiple websites with more in depth information. There are some links at the bottom of this post where you can find more information.
My experiences with bottle feeding were ok. It was nice to be able to get some sleep after baby was born. My husband did most of the baby care after our first was born.
With our second child, I attempted to breast feed, but did not get off to a good start. Looking back, I was probably dehydrated, so I wasn't making enough milk to feed my little one. I eventually gave up and went to bottle feeding again.
With our third child, I was determined. He nursed constantly for the first few days, but was steady losing weight. After a trip to the pediatrician on baby's third day, it was brought to my attention that I was not taking care of myself, therefore I could not take care of my baby. Your body is designed for self preservation. So if you are dehydrated or malnurished, then your body will not make the amount of milk neccessary for baby.
After getting this information, things changed almost instantly. I went home and drank a bottle of water and big glass of milk. Seems like less than an hour later, my boobs were full of milk ready for my little one. You have to take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of your kids (or anyone else, for that matter).
So far, I have been breast feeding for almost 3 weeks. We have no formula or bottles in our house, so I am not tempted to back slide.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the bonding time with my son. Getting the chance to sit with him multiple times a day and watch him grow, is absolutely amazing. I feel great, physically and mentally. I have not had the problems with post-partum depression like I had after my first two kids were born.
I am hopeful to continue this relationship with my son for as long as possible. If an obstacle does come up, then I plan on pumping so that he still gets the best food for him, even if its not 'directly' from me.
If you have questions about breast feeding, contact your local La Leche League leader for lots of helpful information. And check out these websites for some answers...
La Leche League
American Academy of Pediatrics - breastfeeding page
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - Breastfeeding Patient Pamphlet
Pregnancy.Org - Breastfeeding Information