Even during pregnancy, every woman, for sure, thinks about whether she will breastfeed her baby. What inconveniences may breastfeeding bring? What are the pros and cons of breastfeeding for the mother and her baby?
Nowadays, the undeniable benefit of the mother’s milk for a child is already proved. It is said everywhere. Even the manufacturers of complementary feeding don’t deny benefits of breast milk. Therefore, if a mother does not have any good reasons or contraindications but still refuses to breastfeed her child, this often causes bewilderment.
On the other hand, a young mother may have a different opinion about breastfeeding. To make it easier for you to understand this issue and decide what is best in your case, we have prepared an article about the main pros and cons of breastfeeding.
Advantages of Breastfeeding
The advantages of breastfeeding are well known. First of all, breast milk is good for the child. After all, the mother’s milk contains substances necessary for the baby’s growth and development in correct proportion. In addition, Nature miraculously took care of the composition of mother’s milk. It constantly changes depending on the needs of the child. It can become more fat or saturated with some specific element just within one day. What’s more, breast milk changes its composition from month to month as the baby grows.
It is well-known that the very process of sucking the breast gives the baby a feeling of comfort, love, and care. And, of course, mother’s milk provides the child with the best immunity which even the highest quality artificial feeding is not able to give.
Pros of Breastfeeding
Benefits for the Mother:
- Breastfeeding helps to lose weight and gain pre-pregnancy forms;
- Reduces the risk of developing breast cancer, uterus cancer as well as endometrial and ovarian cancer;
- Protects against osteoporosis.
- Breastfeeding accelerates the recovery of the uterus after childbirth (due to the contraction of its walls during baby’s sucking. Many mothers probably remember this pain in the abdomen during the first breastfeeding which reminds the pain during menstruation).
- Breastfeeding is helpful during long walks or trips. It facilitates feeding, eliminating the need to prepare mixtures.
- It improves the metabolism in the mother’s body.
- Breastfeeding stimulates a woman to lead a healthy lifestyle after giving birth – to give up smoking, alcohol, and bad-quality food.
- With regular feedings, there is no menstruation. The possibility of a new pregnancy is very low.
Pros of Breastfeeding for the Health of the Child
- Babies who were breastfed are better protected from infections;
- They develop faster and more efficiently;
- They are less likely to suffer from allergies (having received mother’s milk for more than a year);
- The risk of cancer and diabetes is less;
- Babies’ teeth are healthier, and their dental bite is more correctly formed;
- The eyesight is better (strangely enough, it also depends on the duration of breastfeeding);
- Calcium absorbs better;
- Iodine deficiency is less likely to happen (if the mother takes iodine preparations);
- The immunity of children who were breastfed is stronger.
High Level of Intelligence:
- In the milk of a nursing mother there are rare substances that ensure the maturation of the baby’s brain;
- The milk of any other animal cannot fully contribute to the development of the human brain. Otherwise, all animals would have a similar level of intelligence.
Nervous System of the Child:
- It is exactly the mother’s milk that promotes an even maturation of the baby’s nervous system;
- Children who have been breastfed for about two years are more calm, good-tempered, have fewer sleep disorders. It is easier for them to bear pain, fatigue, and stress.
Digestive System of an Infant:
- The milk of the mother is perfectly balanced in composition and adjusted to the changes that occur in babies.
Breast milk is the most useful for normal growth and weight gain of the baby
- It is more difficult for a kid to gain excess weight.
It’s convenient for a mom, as milk is always near. It’s warm, fresh and ready for use at any time during the day and night.
It’s easier for a mother to calm the crying baby down.
The child regurgitates less (or does not regurgitate at all) since less air enters the stomach.
A mother is confident that her child is not hungry, and the baby’s food is the most useful.
Children who are breastfed are less likely to be at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Breast milk has the right temperature and does not need any preparation. It is always available for your child.
Breastfeeding is more than just nutrition. It strengthens the emotional connection between the child and the mother and provides warmth, love, and affection.
Breastfeeding stimulates brain development. Studies have shown that children who have been breastfed have better developed visual memory and vision.
Well, the last but not least – breast milk is free. It doesn’t cost anything.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Breastfeeding?
The advantages of breastfeeding are obvious. But breastfeeding women often face the reverse side of the coin. Sometimes there are problems because of which the necessity and expediency of breastfeeding can be under a serious question.
Cons of Breastfeeding
It Is Necessary to Be Psychologically Prepared for Breastfeeding
- The most important thing about breastfeeding is the desire of a mother to breastfeed her baby. To fulfill this you need to psychologically prepare yourself for breastfeeding before childbirth.
A newborn child should be fed on demand. Infants sometimes demand to feed very often, especially if they are sick, frightened or frustrated. If this happens at night – get ready for a sleepless night.
Breastfed babies often sleep in the same bed with a nursing mother. Dad often has to move to another bed or even to another room. Sometimes this creates a bit tense situation in the family. Children get used to sleeping with their mother, and then it is hard to teach them to sleep in their own beds.
If you are breastfeeding you cannot be away from home for a long time, leaving your child with a nanny or relatives. When, after all, such a need arises, then you have to express milk.
If you do not wear special pads in the bra, the milk can leak at the most unexpected moment and leave stains on your clothes.
- Nursing women should follow a certain diet. They can’t eat certain foods. If the child is prone to allergies, the list of forbidden foods is much longer.
A mom should be very careful with her health. She should not catch a cold or get sick.
Possible transfer of harmful substances through the breast milk, such as nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, etc.
Unknown consumption. The mother cannot determine how much milk the baby sucks.
Transmission of infections. If a mother is infected there is a risk of transmission of the disease to the child.
A nursing mom cannot smoke and drink alcohol (though this is more plus than minus).
A woman is forced to eat more which can lead to unwanted weight gain.
The breast can lose its former shape.
- If a child doesn’t suck the breast correctly, nipple cracks or lactostasis may occur. These are very painful conditions that require treatment.
- The child can bite you when sucking.
Breastfeeding Can Affect Well-Being of the Mother
- A woman wants to sleep all the time. It is associated with the action of endorphins (pleasure hormones) and morphine-like substances that relax a woman along with the child.
- You have to write things down. Otherwise, you will simply forget everything. A high level of prolactin can affect the concentration of mother’s attention, constantly “shifting” it to the child.
- Libido can be reduced. All the same, prolactin inhibits the release of estrogens and other hormones of sexual desire, there is no menstrual cycle, the body rests after childbirth.
- The action of oxytocin leads to vomiting, thirst, and desire to eat something sweet.
Other Cons of Breastfeeding
- The baby depends heavily on the mother: the mother cannot leave for a long time.
- The breast can “leak”.
- It is difficult to feed in a public place.
- In the process of feeding, especially extended one, the health of the mother may get worse. The hair becomes thinner, the teeth and skin deteriorate. Breastfeeding may cause problems with the breast of the mother – lactostasis, mastitis, etc.
Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding: Summary
As can be seen from above, the disadvantages of breastfeeding are not so significant. There are many more positive moments. And all these cons of breastfeeding are only temporary inconveniences which almost every woman provided with the support and understanding of close people can deal with.
It is very important to keep a cheerful and positive attitude because this condition is transmitted to the baby and also helps to produce enough milk. The more nervous you are, the more problems with feeding the baby you get. And vice versa – a calm, happy mother is a pledge of a happy baby and successful breastfeeding.
Of course, for each specific situation, there will be its main pros and cons which will become crucial in the issue of the need of breastfeeding. Each mother should decide for herself whether she will breastfeed.
In any case, if, of course, there are no medical contraindications, at least the very first months of your baby’s life should be dedicated to this cause. Breastfeeding will certainly bring its important benefits and help to establish the emotional connection between the mother and her child, which will last a lifetime.