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One of the first decisions a mother has to make is whether to feed her baby with breast or bottled milk. Breast milk is considered the best option by the vast majority of experts but it simply isn't suitable for everyone. What follows is an outline of the main advantages and disadvantages of each method...

Breastfeeding - The Advantages

- you're giving your baby the exact formula your body designed for it

- breast milk contains antibodies which help protect your baby from infection

- it reduces the risk of acquiring ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, wheezing and meningitis.

- milk from the breast changes over time time to meet the changing needs of your baby

- breast milk contains hormones to help your baby develop

- breasted babies are less likely to develop allergies

- you don't have to sterilize and prepare bottles or feed

- your womb will revert back to its regular size much faster

- some evidence shows that breast feeding reduces certain types of cancer in mothers

- it may prevent you having hip fractures later

- you will return to your regular weight quicker because you will use more calories

- breast milk doesn't cost you a penny

Breastfeeding - The Disadvantages

- your sleep time will be shorter between feedings.

- you may need to watch your diet and avoid smoking and drinking

- breastfeeding can leave your nipples painful (although after the ordeal of child birth it's nothing more than a mere irritation)

- it can be problematic if you lead a busy life and you need to feed your baby in public (although it is more widely accepted than in the past)

- occasionally, you simply will not want to do it

Bottle Feeding - The Advantages

- you don't need worry about the your diet or any medication you happen to be on

- you can resume a busy social life and not worry about the effect it may have on your milk

- you know exactly how much milk your baby has had

- there is no problem with feeding in public

- actual feeding time tends to be less time than breast feeding

- fathers and other family members can take part in the feeding process

Bottle Feeding - Disadvantages

- it is obviously more expensive than breast milk

- you have to spend time sterilizing and preparing

- there is a slight increase of allergies and infection

- your baby will miss out on unique antibodies and hormones contained in your breast milk

- you must make sure you give your baby the right formula at the right levels

The Final Thought

In an ideal world, we should all breastfeed our babies because a mother's milk is simply the best food for her own individual baby. Your breast milk is designed specifically for your child and no-one else's. It is what nautre intended.

However, it has to be said that modern bottle milk is now an acceptable substitute. Yes, there is a slight increase of infection and your baby will miss out on a variety of antibodies and hormones. But if you do choose to bottle feed, don't beat yourself up about it. As long as you're sensible, either method will have your little bundle of fun crawling around in no time.

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