Breastfeeding and Infant Formula

Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and whether to use breast milk or formula is a big challenge faced by new parents. Breast milk is known as the best natural and nutritional choice that a mother can make for her baby. However, not all mothers are able to breastfeed depending on lifestyle, comfort and sometimes medical situations. Infant formula, therefore, becomes a healthy alternative that offers growth and nutrients to the baby. Whether breast milk or infant formula, a person can have a special bond with the baby during feeding time.

Why Breastfeeding Should Be Considered

Exclusive breastfeeding is highly recommended by health practitioners for at least 6 months. There are various benefits as to why breastfeeding is important to both the mother and child. This includes:

  • Helps to burn calories thus the mother quickly loses pregnancy weight.
  • It enables the uterus to go back into its normal pre-pregnancy size.
  • Breast milk offers ideal nutrients to the baby.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the chances of infections, respiratory illness and other ailments such as diarrhoea.
  • Babies are able to fight off the growth of bacteria and viruses.
  • Breast milk is easily digested.
  • For mothers, breastfeeding delay menstruation for a while.
  • Both the mother and baby strengthen their bond towards each other.

In Kenya, mothers are highly encouraged to breastfeed, with employers commissioned to support breastfeeding moms. Read more on what the law says here

Health Problems That May Prevent a Mother From Breastfeeding

Almost every woman can breastfeed, but there are various reasons that prevent this from happening.

  • Lactation failure – A mother may experience lactation failure whereby the supply of milk is low.
  • Breast pain – this causes abandonment of breastfeeding thus preventing the baby from successful suckling.
  • Breast engorgement– Due to accumulated milk and breast fullness, a mother experiences painful engorgement which interferes with latching for proper feeding.
  • Mastitis – the inflammation of the breast causes swelling, redness and pain hence making it hard for the mother to breastfeed.
  • Vomiting & Diarrhoea – Infections which cause diarrhoea and vomiting may hinder successful breastfeeding by the baby.

What is The Value of Infant Formula?

Many babies usually receive nourishment through formula feeding. This is in place of either breast milk or as an addition. Formula precludes the mom as the main source of food for the baby. Some babies may not be able to tolerate proteins or carbohydrates found in breast milk and so, specialized infant formula saves the day. The formula also acts as a substitute when a mother has no strength to feed for one reason or the other. When added to a diet, infant formula can increase weight to low birth weight babies.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Formula Feeding

Below are a few pros of formula feeding:-

  • Anyone can feed the baby and this contributes to the experience of being close to the baby as its father, siblings or a family member
  • The baby gets to feed effectively at any convenient time
  • When the mother’s body is not producing enough milk, the baby gets to feed to a satisfactory amount of formula milk
  • The mother can drink and eat whatever that makes her comfortable as the baby does not fully depend on her breast milk

Some cons on formula feeding are as follows:-

  •   Preparation of the formula may take more time in comparison to breastfeeding
  •   It costs more to buy artificial nipples, bottles and formula milk
  •   Formula milk is not rich in nutrients as breast milk


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: kenyalaw, kidshealth, webmd, canadianbreastfeedingfoundation, kidshealth

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