“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth.”
Pamela K. Wiggins

Breastfeeding – why it benefits both mom and baby

15/08/2022

The subject of breast vs bottle feeding is a contentious one.

As if new mothers do not already have enough to worry about, it feels like the world is shouting at them about every small decision that they make.

That is just not fair. Nor is it necessary. The overwhelming majority of new mothers want only the best for their babies and adding stress and societal pressures into the equation just doesn’t help anyone.

Yes, breastfeeding has many benefits and bottle feeding with powdered baby formula can be fraught with dangerous pitfalls, but remember that neither breast, nor bottle is best. A happy mom with a fed baby is best.

Mediplus supports all mothers.

We are not here to shame you for your choice. We simply want to give you the facts and allow you to make your own decisions.

If you have the resources to safely feed your baby powdered infant formula from a bottle, and if this works for you and your family, that’s fine by us.

Remember that the risk for infections with any number of bacteria greatly increases with non-sterile bottle feeding, as does the risk of over-feeding or malnutrition if a regulated but sufficient supply of formula isn’t available. For mothers with less resources, breastfeeding is accepted as the best and safest way to keep your baby healthy.

Tips for safe bottle feeding:

1. Sterilize all feeding equipment before and after each use.

2. Only use sterile water that has been boiled and the allowed to cool down.

3. Work closely with your paediatrician or doctor to ensure that your baby is getting the right amount of formula at the right times and be aware of the risks of allergies and negative reactions to powdered formula.

4. Remember that infant formula is expensive, and you will be buying it for at least six months or longer. Budget for this!

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding by its nature is sterile. There is no need to sterilize your skin or breast before feeding as the bacteria that is on your skin is highly beneficial to your baby’s gut health.

Breastmilk is free, and a mother does not necessarily need to take extra care to change or increase her food intake. Simply staying hydrated and eating normally is good enough.

Breastmilk can reduce the risk of future food allergies and will improve your child’s immune system and digestion.

Breastfeeding gives your baby valuable protection against many common diseases. If your baby does fall ill, a mother’s body can take in bacteria in her baby’s saliva during breastfeeding and will then create antibodies that will pass through the milk and help the baby fight of that illness. It is like magic!

Antibodies for protection against various other diseases are also passed from mother to baby when breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can protect babies against Covid-19.

Babies of mothers who have received the Covid-19 vaccine will even receive Covid-19 fighting antibodies from their mothers! These babies are the first generation of humans who will start to build up a passive immune system against the disease.

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of obesity and diabetes.

Breastfed babies are significantly less likely to become obese during childhood or develop type one diabetes.

This is because a breastfed baby, unlike a bottle-fed baby learns from an early age to regulate their own hunger signals. Thus, creating healthy eating habits from the very start.

Add this to the lower levels of insulin produced by breastfed babies as compared to formula-fed babies, and it makes sense that they have healthier pancreatic function.

Breastfeeding sports bonding and lowers the risk of breast cancer.

Breastfeeding will help with the mother-baby bonding and help a new mom to get to know her baby and better understand their needs and emotions. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of getting breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed, the more significantly your risk is reduced.

Find your village!

If you are pregnant and want to breastfeed your baby, its important to educate yourself. There are many informal local support groups on social media that can give you guidance and information. Find one that suits your personality and join the gang of breastfeeding moms.

Being informed and prepared will greatly improve your chances of successfully breastfeeding your baby for an extended period of time.

Luckily there are many helpful and trusted sources that offer information and groups that focus on supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.

La Leche League is a non-profit organization that specialises in supporting breastfeeding others and underpins the World Health Organization’s guidelines on the benefits of breastfeeding.

See below for a full list of the sources for this article. These links will also give you access to even more breastfeeding resources.