The Pros And Cons Of Breastfeeding

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New mothers have two main choices when feeding their babies: breastfeeding or formula feeding from a bottle. Each choice comes with its own moral imperative and there is much for a mother to consider. The benefits of breastfeeding are well established, however, a mother will have to weigh these benefits against other factors, such as the social stigma of breastfeeding in public; potentially reduced milk supply due to drugs taken in labour; the fear of losing her figure; and the need to be liberated from the demands of constant breastfeeding. Information bombards parents from a range of sources in the UK: formula companies, the NHS, the National Childbirth Trust and the pro-breastfeeding lobby, for example, La Leche League. This information can often be conflicting, promoting the advantages of one way of feeding over another. The NHS (2007) identifies the advantages of breastfeeding as: providing all the nutrients a baby needs for the first 6 months of life; helping to protect a baby from infection and other diseases; reducing the mother’s chances of getting some illnesses later in life; helping physical and emotional bonding; helping the mother return to her pre-pregnancy figure; and being easy for the baby to absorb. In addition, breast milk protects against: ear infections, asthma, eczema, chest infections, obesity, gastro-intestinal infections, childhood diabetes and urine infections (NHS 2007) (see booklet enclosed). While the advantages of breastfeeding are well established, there are also disadvantages to this method of feeding. However, the NHS Education for Scotland cites Lawrence (1999): Disadvantages of breastfeeding are those factors perceived by the mother as an inconvenience to her since there are no known disadvantages to the normal infant. The NHS Education for Scotland (2009) lists the potential disadvantages of breastfeeding to the mother.

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