By Cristina Mestre Ferrer BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 05/23/2014

Are you trying to decide whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby?

Today, deciding to breastfeed your baby is the most common chosen option among women and the most recommended one by doctors and midwives. However, because of personal reasons or because of impossibility to breastfeed, some mothers decide to formula feed their baby. This option may even generate a guilty feeling owing to social pressure.

Despite medical and social recommendations, the decision is up to the parents.

Breastfeeding your baby or not is a personal decision

A recent book, published by French philosopher Élisabeth Badinter, opened a broad discussion among supporters of breastfeeding. The book criticizes the great amount of social pressure under which women are when it comes to feeding their baby, since the trend is to breastfeed. For this reason, according to the philosopher, mothers may even become “slave to their children”.

Nowadays, there is a strong sense for natural nursing period supporting breastfeeding unconditionally. Breast milk is considered by doctors and paediatricians as the ideal nourishment for the newborn, since it comprises the most necessary nutrients and immunological properties for a healthy development.

In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that breast milk should be the only food the baby has to take during his/her first 6 months of life. After this period, breast milk should be combined with other foods until age 2.

All this has lead to the foundation of several associations such as Alba Lactancia Materna, a non-profit association in Spain supporting breast milk and helping women who have decided to breastfeed their children.

However, because of personal reasons or because of impossibility to breastfeed, some mothers decide to formula feed their baby. According to them, by choosing this option, they feel rejected by relatives, friends, and even medical staff. They may even feel judged and not sufficiently well informed, because the emphasis given when it comes to explain how to breastfeed is not equally given when explaining how to bottle-feed the baby.

According to psychologist Gemma Cánovas, this situation may create both anxiety and feelings of regret among mothers. For this reason, each woman should be free to determine how she wants to feed her baby.

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information
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