Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding

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A recent article in The Atlantic covered how Brazil is aggressively promoting breastfeeding – both in public and at home. Titled Why Brazil Loves Breastfeeding, writer Olga Khazan writes that “The breastfeeding push is partly credited with helping slice Brazil’s infant mortality rate by more than two-thirds in the past two decades.” According to the Health Ministry in Brazil, more than half of mothers breastfeed their children exclusively until they are six months old.

Although breastfeeding is recommended, it’s still an issue for various reasons. For one, some mothers struggle with the act itself. But to decide whether it is a benefit or a disadvantage, here’s a list of pros and cons of breastfeeding:

List of Pros of Breastfeeding

1. It offers lots of health benefits.
Breastfeeding not only benefits the child but also the mother. The World Health Organization suggests that mothers breastfeed their child for the six months because of the health benefits it brings. For instance, breast milk contains infection-fighting white blood cells and natural chemicals that increase the level of protection a child has. Plus, it’s comprised of just the right proportions of nutrients a baby needs.

On the mothers part, breastfeeding serves as protection against breast and ovarian cancer. Also, feeding breast milk to a child is free and convenient – there’s no need to carry items related to feeding a child when heading out.

2. It helps mothers bond with their child.
Feeding time is more than just keeping a child satisfied – it’s also time that can be used for comfort and nurturing. Experts have said that breastfeeding can be used to study and memorize faces – both the mother and child. While breastfeeding, a mother can also sing or talk to their child which helps develop trust and nonverbal communication.

3. It is easy and convenient.
Bottle feeding a baby means bringing additional items related to feeding. Milk needs to be prepared before a child can be fed and that alone can take a whole lot of time. With breastfeeding, none of these apply because milk is readily available.

List of Cons of Breastfeeding

1. It takes a whole lot of effort.
No one said being a mother would be a breeze – it takes a lot of patience and hard work to be able to parent a child successfully. Sure, there will be stumbles along the way because no one is perfect and it’s all part of the learning process. Of all the aspects of being a mother, breastfeeding a child presents one of the biggest hurdles. Why is that the case? Some mothers may have issues that prevent them from being able to breastfeed their child even if they desire it so much – and that can be frustrating for any mother.

2. It is a challenge particularly for working mothers.
Mothers who breastfeed will face challenges especially when they return to work. One particular example is the time to pump breasts for milk. Depending on the work environment, mothers may find it hard to sneak out to pump their breasts. This definitely should be allowed but there are still workplaces that don’t recognize just how a woman’s body works after giving birth.

3. It can be painful.
When a child starts teething, they will bite anything that comes in contact with their mouth. And in the case of breastfeeding, they will not know it’s not alright to chomp down on their mother’s nipple. But other than getting a nipple bitten, some mothers may experience breast pain that may be caused by an infant not sucking properly on the teat.

Breastfeeding is beneficial to both a child and mother. However, it does come with a certain set of disadvantages. But no matter the case, the ultimate decision to breastfeed a child depends on the mother and her circumstances – i.e. can she produce enough milk to keep a child satisfied?