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|To Breastfeed Or Not?
While there are pros and cons to breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, which method you chose must be one both you and your partner are most comfortable with. If you have negative feelings about nursing, do not feel guilty about bottle-feeding. Not only would the stress and anxiety probably make breastfeeding difficult for you, but today most bottle fed babies are happy and well nourished. If you decide not to nurse, you will probably experience a few days of breast pain after giving birth while your milk supply declines. In the past various hormones were given to women to stop lactation, but they had dangerous side effects. Today, the only safe method considered is to stop the baby from suckling. It normally takes between 3 and 6 days for milk supply to dry up, but it can take up to 2 weeks. In the meantime you may find a tight bra or breast binder, in combination with painkillers will help ease the pain.
Top 10 Reasons Why Some Mothers Choose Not To Breastfeed
1. Lack of freedom
It can be difficult to leave the baby for more than a few hours unless the mother has expressed milk (manually or with the aid of a breast pump). If the mother needs to return to work, pumping enough breast milk to last her baby the day can be time consuming and messy. Furthermore she may not have enough milk at the time to cover several feeds. Additionally learning how to breastfeed can initially be time consuming and frustrating (particularly if the baby has problems latching).
2. Diet restrictions
Basically everything you eat is passed on to your baby. Nursing mothers are advised to avoid alcohol. Even one alcoholic drink a day passed through the milk supply is enough to retard a baby's development. One study showed that at most, a breastfeeding woman can only safely drink two glasses of wine a week. Smoking should also be avoided because it can hamper milk supply (although doctors still recommend smokers to breastfeed because the pluses outweigh the minuses). Another potential problem is where your baby develops an allergy to a food you eat - it can be difficult to pinpoint which food is the culprit.
3. Passing on infections
It is possible to pass on infections like chickenpox (and HIV virus) to your baby through your milk.
4. Physical breast problems
There are a host of things that can go wrong with the breasts when nursing - including sore nipples, engorged breasts, breast infection (mastitis), blocked milk ducts and fungal infections. For more, read about breastfeeding problems.
5. Feeding in public
While breastfeeding in public has become much more acceptable, many women still find the experience awkward and embarrassing. It doesn't help that finding a secluded room in which to nurse a baby is not always possible. While state laws have been passed upholding a woman's right to breastfeed in public, many women still feel that baring their breasts in public is unacceptable - either to themselves or others. You may find it worthwhile to ask other mothers how they cope with this situation. For example you could buy a special breastfeeding blanket to throw over your shoulders affording some discretion, or use a sling to keep the baby closer.
6. Inability to measure milk consumed
Many women are concerned about their inability to measure how much milk their baby consumes if they breastfeed. In reality this should not be a concern because breastfeeding works through a tightly coordinated response system. The body increases or decreases milk supply according to the baby's needs. The more a baby suckles, the greater the milk supply. This is why your baby may feed at hourly intervals during a growth spurt, but soon settle back to more a widely spaced pattern once milk supply has been bolstered. This is also why most experts recommend feeding on demand, rather than according to schedule. In this instance, baby knows best!
7. Change in breast shape
The shape and appearance of your breasts can change, although in most cases these changes are not permanent. Anecdotally some women feel that nursing prematurely caused their breasts to sag.
8. Lack of dad bonding
Some fathers can feel excluded by nursing and fail to bond with their baby as a result. This can be remedied by expressing the milk so that the father can feed the child.
9. Embarrassing leaks
You can leak milk from the nipples at awkward times. For example, hearing your baby cry is usually enough to start milk production. If you are not prepared for this, it can be embarrassing.
10. Breast-fed babies wake more often in the night
Not all experts agree with this, but it appears that breast-fed babies tend to wake more often in the night. This may be because breast milk is easier to digest than formula milk, and so the baby becomes hungry more quickly and wakes up. One way around this is to try cluster feeding - giving your baby extras feeds near bedtime.
Next: Read about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby.