Breastfeeding is easier, even though it may not seem so in the early days of learning how. But with breastfeeding, there's nothing to buy, store, fix, heat, clean, or throw out, so a nursing mother's time can be spent enjoying her baby, not fixing bottles. Babies who are carried in arms or in a sling, next to their source of food and comfort, tend to fuss less, making them more fun for everyone to be around.

Formulas are more expensive. Formulas cost about $3 per day, plus equipment, time, and extra doctor bills, and they're not fully covered by WIC.

Formula-feeding doesn't smell as good. Different intestinal bacteria go along with formula feeding. The different bacteria, along with less effective digestion, mean smellier diapers. Even their skin and breath smell different.

Breastfed babies are more portable. A nursing mother never lacks for the right food at the right temperature in the right amount at the right time - anywhere. Without bottles and pacifiers, nursing babies are simpler to carry along. You seldom see a baby nursing in public? That's because it's easy to be discreet!

Breastfed babies are healthier. Formula gives no protection against illness, so formula-fed babies are more prone to diarrhea, ear and respiratory infections, skin problems, and pneumonia. They have more constipation, anemia, and allergies, and are at greater risk for SIDS. Formula-fed babies tend to get sick more often and recover more slowly than normal. And sick babies are not much fun.

Formula affects longterm health, too. How a person was fed as a baby affects his or her risk of childhood diabetes, childhood cancer, ulcerative colitis, obesity, and perhaps heart disease. Without the longterm jaw action of nursing, there is more need for orthodontia and speech therapy. There may be an IQ difference, too. Formulas are simply not complete foods. They lack hundreds of enzymes, hormones, anti-infectives, and living cells that are found in breastmilk. Nursing is a lifelong baby gift that only Mom can give.

Bottle-feeding mothers have added health risks. Without her normal nursing hormones, a bottle-feeding mother's body recovers from birth more slowly, and her risk of certain breast and ovarian cancers rises. She also loses out on the relaxing, patience- producing effects of nursing hormones at a time when life can be especially stressful.

Breastfed babies have a head start. Nursing for even a few days gives a baby the food and snuggling for which he is designed. Even a mother who then decides not to continue has given her baby a solid, normal start in life!

Breastfeeding. It makes sense.

©1997 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC 136 Ellis Hollow Creek Road Ithaca, NY 14850

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