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Breast Is Best, But Mothers Have Feeding Options for Their Babies


August was Breastfeeding Awareness Month. With it wrapping up, it’s a fitting time to acknowledge the unique journey each mother embarks on when it comes to feeding her child.  

Breast milk is a superfood for babies.  

For the first six months of an infant’s life, they feed primarily on either formula or breast milk. While both formula and breast milk provide infants with necessary nutrition, breast milk has distinct advantages, and its benefits extend far beyond just the first six months of a baby’s life. 

One major advantage of breast milk is its adaptiveness. For example, if a baby falls sick, a mother’s milk can develop antibodies to help counteract illness. Another is how it promotes bonding between mother and child through skin-to-skin contact. 

Despite breast milk’s benefits, the cultural understanding of breastfeeding in the United States has historically been complex. “Breast is best” has not always been the prevailing opinion. Today, however, science – and society more generally – recognize breastfeeding’s immense benefits, and it’s the way many new mothers intend to feed their child. 

But breastfeeding isn’t straightforward for all mothers.  

Some mothers face breastfeeding hurdles. Some may have hormonal diseases, like polycystic ovary syndrome, or have had prior breast surgeries – both of which can affect milk production. Others may experience pain during breastfeeding or have babies who find it hard to latch.  

Fortunately, mothers who choose not to breastfeed, or who struggle to breastfeed, have alternatives. Pumping, for instance, allows mothers to continue providing their babies with their own breastmilk, with the advantage of having someone else feed the baby with a bottle. Some mothers may choose to feed their baby donor human milk, and formula is also an option for babies who need it.  

While there are several feeding methods for infants, they each have unique costs.  

  • Cost. Breast pumps and breast milk storage bags or containers can be expensive. 
  • Stigma. Mothers might feel judged for breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding past a certain age or for choosing formula over breast milk. 

As Breastfeeding Awareness Month concludes, it’s crucial to understand that the best choice is what suits the mother and baby, and that this decision is best made by the mother. Whether it’s nature’s way or a helping hand from science, every mother’s decision should be respected and celebrated.