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Which is Harder: Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding?

Katlyn Joy |29, June 2014


We've heard the arguments over which is better for baby, breast or bottle. This isn't the only question to settle, however. Every mom must decide for herself and her baby what will work best for them. Part of that decision is knowing how well either fits her life and how hard it will be to live.

The Pros of a Breastfeeding Lifestyle:

1. Nothing to pack, clean, carry or remember. Breastfeeding moms know they are fine if the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and it's getting close to feeding time. You don't have to figure out how long you'll be somewhere and how many bottles to slip in the baby bag. You don't have to measure out powdered formula into bottles, bring along some purified water, or have a cooler bag for mixed formula. You don't have to worry that you've been gone for hours and those dirty bottles will have become stinky and crusty.

2. You are always prepared. Should baby experience a sudden spurt in growth, he or she will often need to eat more and if you are breastfeeding, you won't be caught unprepared.

3. Breastfeeding can make life easier because you burn calories doing it. That means you won't need to exercise quite as much to get the same results. How else can you burn calories with your feet up in a recliner?

4. Breastfeeding encourages continued healthy eating, and healthy lifestyles. A breastfeeding mom should continue the same nutritious diet she ate while pregnant. She always will be abstaining or restricting alcohol, smoking and other bad habits. That's a win-win for mom and baby.

5. Breastfeeding keeps your periods on hiatus longer. How can that not be a plus? While you should never count yourself infertile while breastfeeding, while exclusively breastfeeding you will likely not resume your menstrual period. No cramps, no tampons, no PMS. Woohoo!

The Pros of Bottle Feeding

1. Your nipples will be pain-free in those first weeks post birth. Breastfeeding can be painful in the early days, until you adjust. After months of being occupied literally by baby, you may relish more physical independence that bottle feeding affords you.

2. You don't have to be with baby all the time. Obviously, later on breastfeeding moms are able to leave baby for short periods of time by either supplementing with bottles of formula or pumped breast milk.

3. You know how much baby is eating. Breast feeding mothers often worry if baby is eating enough. A bottle feeding baby is clearly eating a set amount, no guessing needed.

4. You don't need to worry about modesty or privacy. Some moms are more uncomfortable nursing in public and must find a quiet corner or private room to feed baby. You can easily give baby a bottle most anywhere without worry about flashing anyone accidentally.

5. Bottle feeding moms don't have a difficult emotional time weaning baby from bottle. It's typically much more difficult to end the nursing relationship than to take bottle from baby. Nurslings can smell milk and yearn to breastfeed while in mother's arms, making it difficult to comfort a child used to nursing without use of the breast.

Ultimately, the decision is the mother's and only she knows what will work best for her. While breast feeding can be daunting, the benefits are well documented. Perhaps it's a good idea to at least commit to trying it for an initial period of time. Give yourself enough time to get past the awkward and sometimes painful early days, to where you have your milk supply established and your breasts have adjusted. Then you can supplement or switch to bottles if you desire. If you try it and it's not for you, you can go on to bottle feeding. It's considerably harder to do the opposite and start with a bottle then try nursing.

Talk to moms, read literature, do soul-searching and choose what is best for you. Know that you have support for any decision you make. Enlist your spouse as your ally in your feeding preference so they can go to bat for you in the wake of any criticism. Whatever you do, enjoy the feedings with your baby and that sweet time of closeness. It will be over before you know it!

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