Formula vs. breastfeeding: the CDC debate

Babies are on my mind. No, not for me. But I am surrounded by women who are pregnant, have recently been pregnant (new mommies) or who are thinking about getting pregnant. Babies are everywhere. Or at least everywhere I am.

With a lot of my acquaintances are with child, baby topics dominate our conversations. Anything from what are you naming the baby, to if you are going to have the baby naturally (no pain meds. Ouch.) or to if you want to vaccinate your baby. These are all things I am learning vicariously through them before I decide it is my turn to step into those momma shoes.

But one of the biggest topics about babies is also one of the most controversial: breast feeding. While it may make some giggle or feel uncomfortable, breast feeding is how babies got all of their early nutrients in the “olden days”. But now it is considered a bit old fashioned, and the new moms who are stepping into the scene are opting for formula to help feed their babies.

No big deal, right? Well the CDC (Center for Disease Control) does not think so. In fact, they think the opposite. Breast milk should be the primary nutrients, and formula should be a very distant second, according to the CDC.

The trend leaning toward using more formula is startling to professionals. Women are busier now, with an increase of working moms. Breastfeeding and even pumping breast milk is not a feasible option for a busy career woman, so formula has been a saving grace for busy women. Also, the CDC thinks that the culture surrounding breastfeeding has changed. Women do not view it as a high priority. Even from the first night in the hospital, some young mothers are opting for a good night’s rest in lieu of breast feeding the first night after their baby is born.

And let’s not forget that breastfeeding is not always easy. Babies might not always take to breastfeeding, making it frustrating to the mother.

Now, this does not mean that the CDC thinks that you should never use formula. While that is their ideal scenario, they know that is not realistic. But they do say that breast milk is always best.

There are some serious benefits to breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity, and it can reduce the chances of the child developing allergies. Breastfeeding can also help strengthen the bond between mother and child. But even better, it can help the mom burn calories and it is cheaper. Breast milk is free. It is hard to beat that.

How is the CDC going to change this? By teaching mothers how important breastfeeding is in the hospital or when they visit their doctors. (and to save yourself any unnecessary expenses, put your ZIP code in the box above to get health insurance quotes online in your area. It will save you a bundle.)

So whatever you feel about breastfeeding, get educated and make the right decision for you and your baby.