Breast-feeding is feeding a baby milk from a mother's breasts. You can feed your baby directly at your breast. You can also pump your breasts and put the milk in a bottle so that you or others can feed your baby breast milk. This lets you give your baby the benefits of breast milk even when you can't be there to feed your baby. Women who work or need to be away from their babies may have the option to both breast-feed and sometimes bottle-feed. Some women bottle-feed with pumped breast milk or formula, or both.
Doctors advise breast-feeding for 1 year or longer. But your baby benefits from any amount of time that you breast-feed.
Only you know your own thoughts and feelings about breast-feeding. This is an important part of making this decision.
Breast-feeding is fine for most mothers and babies, even if the mom or baby has a health problem. But you may not be able to breast-feed if:
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I wish I could stay home with my baby for the first year, but I have to return to work after 2 months. I plan to breast-feed my baby. I talked to my boss, and they have a place for me to pump and store my milk during the day. So even though I won't be able to breast-feed at every feeding after I go back to work, my baby will still get the benefits of my breast milk through a bottle, plus breast-feeding in the mornings and evenings."
— Aisha, age 22
"This pregnancy has been so hard on my body. My doctor says that some women who breast-feed recover faster from pregnancy, labor, and delivery than women who don't breast-feed. I am going to try breast-feeding and see how I feel. My husband will support whatever decision I make."
— Kym, age 34
"I breast-fed my first baby for a little while and decided breast-feeding wasn't for me. I do want my baby to get the benefits of breast milk, though. The hospital lactation consultant said she could help me. So I will probably try to breast-feed this baby at first, and switch to formula after a few weeks if it's not going well."
— Mia, age 29
"I want to breast-feed my baby for as long as we both enjoy it. I worked before I got pregnant, but I want to stay home the next few years with my child. I have friends who have done this. They are very happy with their choices, and their babies seem healthy and well-adjusted."
— Laney, age 25
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to choose breast-feeding
Reasons to choose formula
I want to breast-feed.
I prefer to bottle-feed my baby with formula.
I want to follow the advice of experts, who recommend breast-feeding.
My baby can be healthy on formula.
Formula is too expensive for my budget.
I can afford formula.
I have support from family and friends who can teach me about breast-feeding.
I don't have family or other friends around who have breast-fed and can help me. I don't want to ask for help from strangers.
I'm confident that I can find the time and a place to breast-feed or pump breast milk.
My type of work and my schedule don't give me the time or a place to breast-feed or pump breast milk.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
1. Doctors say it's best to breast-feed my baby for 1 year or longer.
2. Breast-feeding can lower my baby's chance of getting some infections and diseases.
3. Formula can give good nutrition to my baby.
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology|