For women, in the months leading up to the births of their babies, they find themselves battling a big question—will the baby be breastfed or bottle fed? For some moms, the answer is instant. They know what they want and plan to stick to it. For others, however, it’s not such an easy answer.
We weigh the options, the benefits and the downfalls of each. We talk to friends, to family, to our doctors and maybe even to the stranger we meet in the women’s bathroom. We’re diligent as this is a huge decision—and why shouldn’t we be? It’ll affect our child’s future.
It’s everywhere and is gaining force. It’s a movement about the importance of making sure our babies are well fed no matter how us mamas do it—breastfed or formula-fed. It’s about the importance of making sure that our babies always have all the food they need in their little bellies. It’s to rally to make all mamas feel comfortable with their decision.
As great as this is, however, we have to admit: there are some absolutely fantastic benefits to breastfeeding. Whether it’s cosmetic, medical or just plain personal, there are so many ways we can benefit from choosing to breastfeed (for those who can).
15 They Just Smell Better
Baby doo-doo—it’s an inevitable part of parenthood. We’re going to find ourselves dealing with a large number of dirty diapers during the early years of our child’s life. So, why make the experience an unpleasant one?
That icky, nose-pinching stigma of diapers we’re so used to hearing about—that’s a formula-fed baby thing.
Ask Dr. Sears says that the smell of breastmilk doo-doo has an almost buttermilk-like smell. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Every time we go to change our precious baby’s diaper we’re greeted by a not-so-off-putting smell—it makes it easy to smile down at our baby. No more unpleasant, unhappy faces staring down at our baby when they do something so natural. It builds a more relaxed relationship between us and our baby as they aren’t upset in reaction to our expressions several times a day.
14 Make The Most Of Your Time
It’s no lie, formula feeding takes up extra time. We have to make sure the bottles are sanitized, warm the water to the right temperature, mix together the formula and make sure the bottle is sealed right—especially for the bottles with a ton of moving parts.
It’s time-consuming and if our baby is hungry right then and there, it’s stressful. We’re stuck listening to him cry out for food while we’re trying to rush through preparing it. Nothing compares to the way we save time by simply pulling our baby into our lap and nursing right on the spot.
Whole New Mom states there’s no extra needed—and no need to let our baby get riled up over having to wait. Saving time lets us make the most of our baby’s childhood—after all, they grow up so fast!
13 The Benefits Of Better Vision
In the age of glasses, contacts, and Lasik, we all want our babies to have perfect vision—or at least as close to it as we can get. One of the lesser-known perks of breastfed babies is the advancement of their visual acuity. Why?
According to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, ladies produce something called DHA naturally in our milk—and it’s a vital building block to the structure of the eye.
So, the more we nurse our little one, the more he gets the prime building blocks to better vision. Formulas don’t have DHA to their mix, but nothing beats the natural. Not to mention the amount of DHA is much higher in our milk. It’s a great way to enhance our baby’s growth.
12 Nicer Skin For Baby
Nothing beats that silky soft feel of our baby’s skin as we run our fingers down the bridge of their noses or over the ridge of their eyebrows. It’s sheer perfection. The skin of formula-fed babies, however, just doesn’t feel like that. In fact, the skin of a formula-fed baby is dryer and often cracks—it feels dry. Sometimes, we’ll even find sandpaper patches on the skin of babies who are formula fed.
That’s not an issue with breastfed babies. The feel and texture is perfection underneath our fingers. We’ll even find that our breastfed babies feel more solid when we pick them up. According to Ask Dr. Sears, research has found that even the fat under their skin has a different composition—it’s healthy and more solid—helping the connection between skin and muscle. We’re building better babies layers deep.
11 Breastfed Baby Means Healthier Baby
Antibodies—they’re the foundation for keeping us healthy through everything life has to offer us. The ups and downs of life help us build our immune system so we’re prepared for every cold and every other illness that comes in our direction. The best part? The March of Dimes reports that when we breastfeed,
all those antibodies—we pass them onto our babies. There’s just no way to manufacture that.
It’s proven that babies who are breastfed are biochemically different from formula-fed babies. It’s thanks to our efforts to breastfeed that our babies have a better chance at being healthy. Thanks to us, our babies have fewer infections, fewer serious illnesses and even less vomiting. On the more serious end, breastfed babies have a significantly lower chance of becoming dehydrated—which means we have better chances of keeping our baby out of the hospital.
10 Lose That Postpartum Weight
For nine months, we carry around our child and any of the extra pounds we happen to pile on. It’s reassuring to say we’re doing it for our baby—but once that baby comes we want that weight off! That baby weight can be stubborn, and we find ourselves struggling to cut the inches off our waists. Take nursing and let’s make it our greatest weight loss too
According to Romper, breastfeeding can burn upwards of 800 calories in a single day! That’s impressive workout results without ever leaving the couch. It doesn’t replace a good diet and exercise, but it certainly helps to make our job easier. All we have to do is dedicate to a healthy lifestyle routine that promotes a great milk supply and we’ll find the weight falling off in due time.
9 Happy Tiny Tummies
When our little babies come out, they’re fresh and new—with so many new adventures on the way. As these adventures are had, the last thing we want is for our baby to have the discomfort and pain of gas and digestive issues. If we breastfeed our babies, the worry of that happening is much less.
Breastmilk is shown to be easier on our baby’s tummies—because they’re naturally prepared for what’s in it. It goes down easy and comes out even easier!
March of Dimes says we can expect less gas, less fuss and muss. It means our baby is happier overall because the struggle is less. It goes beyond that a well. Babies who are breastfed up to six months or more are shown to have fewer food allergies. When the time comes for food, we can rest assured it’ll be a stress-free adventure.
8 How Breastmilk Affects The Brain
As we work to bring our baby into the world, we want a healthy, happy baby—and a smart, well-adjusted one if possible. We plan all the little lessons we’re going to teach and how we can challenge our baby to make them as smart as possible. The best thing we can do to help our baby’s brain development is to breastfeed our babies.
In fact, The Guardian reports that babies who are breastfed score an average of four points higher than formula babies or babies breastfed for less than a month on IQ exams. That little bit can make a big difference. Remember DHA? Well, that plays a huge part in the development of our baby’s brain. The more of DHA that we’re able to give our babies, the smarter they will become. The very best thing we mamas can do is give our babies as much breastmilk as possible to raise their DHA levels.
7 Fighting The Fight Against SIDS
SIDS: we hate hearing about it—we’re terrified of it. The silent, sudden killer that we have no idea if it will enter our homes—or how to protect against it. Recent studies have shown us that SIDS likely happens when babies fall asleep far too deeply and then fail to wake up when they stop breathing. These same studies say that if we breastfeed our babies, they sleep less.
According to Ask Dr. Sears,
our babies sleep less and they wake themselves up when they have problems breathing if they are breastfed.
Sure, we’re likely to find ourselves up more at night with our little ones to feed them—but isn’t it worth it? A little lost sleep every night is nothing compared to the ability to protect—even just a little bit—from the scariest cause of infant death.
6 Magic Heal-All
Have dry skin? There’s breastmilk for that! Have a cut? There’s breastmilk for that! No, really. The properties of breastmilk are practically magical at what they can heal. The rich, antibody properties of breastmilk are proven to be a massive help when applied topically to various illnesses. All we have to do is express a little bit out and apply it where needed.
Medical Daily says one of the most common infections breastmilk is powerful against is conjunctivitis—the dreaded pink eye. All we have to do is apply a tiny bit to the infected eye and we’re good to go. Breastmilk prevents the attachment of the pink eye virus to the eye. The infection growth is limited with nowhere to go, and our eye is healed over the course of a few days. The options are truly endless.
5 Can't Argue Against The Ease Of Access
Bottles, bottle cleaner, formula containers, water, extra formula, a thermal container—that’s just the start of what we need to formula-feed our little babes when we’re out in public. Add that on top of diapers, extra clothes, wipes and more, and we find ourselves toting around a whole lot of extra weight. It makes for an exhausting trip every time we leave the house.
Breastfeeding changes that entire game for us. We just need a nursing cover on top of the usual diaper bag essentials because the twins are always with us.
Whole New Mom reminds us that we can’t leave them home by accident because they’re attached to us.
It’s a great way to travel light and make a quick endeavor out of mealtime whenever our little one finds himself hungry. Just cover up and he’s ready to nurse away—no extras needed!
4 Lowering The Cancer Risk With Nursing
Cancer—it’s scary. It’s a real-life risk that we face—and having children makes the thought of facing that even harder. Rest assured! While there’s not a lot we can do, there are some things we can do to help prevent cancer, like nursing. That’s right. According to Ask Dr. Sears, nursing can help prevent breast, uterine and ovarian cancer—at a percentage as high as 25%!
Breastfeeding lowers our estrogen levels for the duration we do it. The thought is that less estrogen means fewer tissues that can become cancerous. While the research is still out figuring the specifics, it’s a fantastic side perk of nursing. We get to take care of our babies, and we’re simultaneously helping ourselves—doing a little something extra right for us to help protect our future as mothers.
3 Better Emotional Health For Mama
Postpartum depression. Postpartum anxiety. It’s a very real concern of us new moms as we prepare for our precious bundle. Our doctors have us filing out scaled forms, and we worry we won’t have what it takes to handle motherhood. Maybe we find ourselves making precautionary plans with our significant others.
Add breastfeeding to that plan. March of Dimes reports that breastfeeding is shown to release oxytocin—the mothering hormone, the anti-stress hormone, the love hormone—every time we nurse because it’s an essential part of the nursing process.
The hormone makes us feel relaxed and sleepy—we feel loved and feel love in return.
It’s the hormone that helps us to bond with our little babies. Through the release of oxytocin, we’re able to foster a stronger and more emotional bond with our child.
2 Quicker Turn-Around
Speaking of oxytocin—breastfeeding becomes a lady’s best friend when it comes to post-birth recovery. Post-birth recovery can be brutal. It’s an experience that none of us look forward to and dedicate half a suitcase to being prepared for. We head home with all the extra supplies the hospital is willing to give us and hope for the best. However, we’re given the best tool ever for recovery right there in the twins.
According to the March of Dimes, the hormone is highly useful in helping our bodies bounce back quickly. Our uterus will pop back to its regular size quicker, and all the gross aftermath cleans up a whole lot faster. It may not make recovery perfect, but we can definitely make it work in our favor for a slightly improved recovery experience.
1 Cheaper In Every Way
Formula is expensive. Look in any baby aisle at the grocery store, and it becomes painfully obvious just how much a single canister of formula costs. Month after month—with the increase of our baby’s appetite—the amount we spend on formula drastically adds up. As per Ask Dr. Sears,
formula is said to cost around $1200 per year—and that’s not accounting for the better brands of formula if we go for it.
Sticking to breastfeeding alone means only compensating for a slight—or drastic—increase in our appetites as we keep up with the needs of our baby. The cost of extra food adds up, but it’s nothing like that of pricey formula. We stand to save a whopping $400 or more per year in comparison to what we would spend if we formula fed.