Breastfeeding Vs Bottle Feeding

Posted by iChild, February 20, 2019 11:45 AM

By Midwife & Life

No, this isn’t going to be one of those posts, at least I hope not! This article will simply tell you about the pros and cons of both. Breastfeeding is the biological norm and is deemed best for the baby and the mother, but if it doesn’t work out for you, or you have health issues meaning you can’t breastfeed, or maybe you really can’t cope with the idea of it - you may end up formula feeding via a bottle and that’s OK. Once you’ve started bottle feeding or switched from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, don’t feel guilty or feel like you must justify it. I’ve done both for my children and I have to say that finding the right support is paramount to succeeding in breastfeeding, and it starts at home with your partner, family and friends.

I’ll start with breastfeeding, what equipment you need, pros and cons.

Breastfeeding preparation

You can never really physically prepare for breastfeeding but have faith in your body that it is busy laying down foundations during the pregnancy for feeding your baby. Once the placenta is expelled, it triggers hormones in the body to be released and stimulate milk production – it’s all done for you, whether you give birth vaginally or via c-section. It is important, however, to read all you can and speak to breastfeeding mothers about their experiences before going on your own journey. The NCT do classes, as do your local La Leche League. I found my LLL groups invaluable for support – they were informal in Mother’s homes and I made great friends. My favourite breastfeeding book is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It can be read chronologically or referred to when you hit a stumbling block.

Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding


- It’s readily available anytime
- It changes composition to suit the age of the baby
- It changes according to the weather and if baby is ill
- It contains antibodies and compounds that can’t be reproduced in formula
- It protects the mother from cancer in later life (breast and ovarian)
- Reduces the risk of the mother getting osteoporosis in later life
- Reduces the risk of the mother developing type 2 diabetes
- Free
- Increases the bond between mother and child
- Environmentally friendly
- Helps protects from stomach infections, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Helps prevent ear and chest infections
- Lowers the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Reduces the risk of childhood diabetes
- Reduces the risk of childhood obesity
- Aids jaw and mouth development
- Increases brain development

The longer you breastfeed, the more benefits you get. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months, and then to 2 years and beyond. This is global advice. Even if you breastfeed for a short time, you will still get some of the benefits. So, with all that said, are there any cons?

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- Feeding rests solely with the mother
- Some women struggle with the physical and emotional drain and are more likely to get postnatal depression – keep getting support
- Whatever you eat and drink gets passed through to baby, however it’s in such minute amounts that it’s often not a problem. You don’t even need to pump and dump if you drink alcohol (unless you’re too drunk to look after the baby!)
- It can be painful initially when you’re building your supply, but that only lasts the first few days

Breastfeeding equipment

The good news is you don’t really need anything! It can be useful to have a breast pump, to express so you can have some sleep or a night out and a breastfeeding pillow for comfy feeding at home. If you’re feeling self-conscious feeding out and about you might want a breastfeeding cover, but it is just as easy to wear a vest top underneath and layer up. At night, a co-sleeper crib is great for easy access.

On to bottle feeding, sometimes called artificial feeding or formula feeding.

Pros and cons of Formula Feeding



- Other people can feed the baby for you
- Baby may sleep for longer periods
- If made up correctly will provide all the nutrition they need
- No need to restrict your diet or medication


- Formula companies cannot reproduce the antibodies in breast milk which help to fight infections
- Formula is always the same, it does not adapt like breastmilk does
- You always need to have the right equipment to make up bottles
- Expensive – you need bottles, sterilisers, formula
- Increases the risk of SIDS
- Increases the risk of childhood obesity
- Increases the risk of childhood diabetes
- Feeding when out can be more problematic

It’s worth noting that you must make sure you have made the bottles up correctly. There is bacteria in all powdered baby milk that cannot be eradicated in the factories, so you need to sterilise the powder rather than the water. You can either get a perfect prep machine, use ready made formula (which comes pre-sterilised) or do it yourself by boiling the kettle, adding the water to the bottle, then the powder and wait for it to cool to the right temperature. The trick with that is to make it up in time for the next feed! You must put the water in first, then the powder, otherwise it’s too concentrated.

Bottle feeding equipment

You will need:

- Bottles
- Teats
- Bottle brush
- Drying rack (optional)
- Steriliser
- Travel steriliser
- Bibs
- Powdered or ready-made formula
- Boiled water

As I’ve said above, giving you this information is not intended to shame anyone for bottle feeding or berate anyone’s choices, it’s simply for information giving. It also doesn’t mean if you breastfeed that your baby will never get any infections or allergies, nor if you bottle feed that they will definitely be sick, obese and have diabetes! If you put children in a room together at school you won’t be able to tell who was breastfed or bottle fed, but the evidence suggests that breastfeeding has significant advantages and should be the biological norm. Bottle feeding is a suitable alternative.

By Midwife & Life


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