All doctors agree- breastmilk is bestmilk.

 It's the ideal food for your baby, and has numerous benefits, including immunities and being a perfect complete nutrition source. But I was formula fed, my husband was formula fed, and I know plenty of moms who formula feed for a variety of reasons, and everyone seems to be turning out just fine.  Well, the jury is still out on my husband, but you know what I mean. >wink<

You have to make the best choice for you. As a mom who has done some of both, I am going to tell you all the pros and cons of nursing!  Overall, though, I encourage you to give nursing your baby a try.  It can be a tremendous bonding experience, one that you will never forget.

My first child, I breastfed for about 6 months while pumping and working full time--as an active duty military mom. Let me tell you, that was a challenge! I had to pump in my car!  My boss was made so uncomfortable by this, he have me a month off to "go home and nurse my baby."  Hey, I wasn't gonna argue with that.

My second child, I nursed for 9 months. My third child, we made it all the way to 14 months, primarily because she refused to drink anything else until then.

The Cons

1.Engorgement, Nipple Pain, and a host of other aches and pains- Yes, breastfeeding can be a battlefield. When you first start, there is a distinct possibility that your nipples will be sore and cracked. And you will surely be engorged! Just know that they are annoying, but can be remedied.  There are special creams called Lanolin that are an absolute godsend, and completely natural and safe to use, that will take care of this problem.  Also, this issue is almost always caused my improper latch (meaning the way that the baby latches on to the breast to nurse) and can be corrected with proper positioning. 

2.Leaks- Yes, welcome to the world of wet bras and shirts. Your "let-down" reflex can trigger at the most inopportune times (church, anyone?) and nursing pads MUST be worn to prevent embarrasing moments.  Don't leave home without them or you will surely regret it!  They make disposable and re-usable versions of those as well.

3.Nursing can be lonely- When you have to either be a pro at covering up or go behind a barrier or in another room, it can begin to feel like social situations can be difficult. You will have to nurse the baby in public, and you will have to use your breasts to do it. I have nursed in a bathroom stall, in an office, in a study carousel, in a car, on a bench in the mall, in church....pretty much anywhere you can think of.

But even then, you will have the occasional...

4.Boob exposure- It's gonna happen, no matter how careful you are. Just get used to the idea.  Hey, good thing is that the whole "birth process" probably got you used to having things exposed that you aren't used to.  At least this is better than that!

An interview with a Nurse Practitioner about the benefits of nursing your baby

The Pros

1.Best for baby- Breastmilk is the best possible nutrition for baby. That is, if the mother takes care in what she eats and takes for medication.  (However, most of those suggestions like "don't eat broccoli" are old wives tales-- they make no differece!)

It is the perfect temperature and has everything a baby needs. However, if you can't breastfeed due to any number of possible issues, just know that your baby will be Okay. I breast feed both of my kids for varying lengths of time (7 mos, 9 months, and 14 months!)and I was completely bottlefed as a baby- I think I turned out fine!

2.Easy- In some ways that is. The easy thing is that it's always available (as long as you're there), always sterile, no bottles to wash, no formula to keep track of and measure, no bottled water to carry.  You can nurse in public, you can nurse in a mothers room when you are changing a diaper-- laws on public nursing are in support of the mother. Nursing your baby is very natural, and while there are some situations that make it difficult to succeed (insufficient milk production, etc.), for most mothers and babies, obstacles can be overcome with the right instruction.

3.Cheap- You save tons of money breastfeeding. Formula is very expensive, and the cost can be especially disastrous if you happen to have a baby that can't tolerate regular formulas and has to be on special ones, such as Nutramigen. I had a friend who had to spend 1000 dollars a month on that stuff! 

The only costs associated with nursing are the slight increase in the nutritional needs of the mother, and if you need to pump, you will need a breast pump and all the accesories associated with that.  But even if you need to pump and buy a real nice one, it will still be cheaper than formula feeding.

Another way that I saved money on baby care was using cloth diapers.  But that's another article for another day...

4.Helps you loose the preggo weight- You recover from your pregnancy better when you breastfeed, probably just because that was the way the body was designed to work. When you nurse, your uterus contracts, which helps you recover from the birthing process. Also, nursing burns an extra 500 calories a day, so you may find it easier to loose your pregnancy weight than if you were to bottlefeed.  Weight Watchers even has a special weight loss program designed for nursing moms, so you can safely lose while ensuring enough nutrition for a good milk supply.

5. Bonding- The connection you form with your child when you breastfeed is priceless. There is no real way to describe it- only experience it. It totally taps into your nurturing nature!  I am so glad that I was able to breastfeed all three of my children for varying lengths of time.  It may sound strange to the uninitiated, but it is a special experience that I will treasure forever.

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