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Breastfeeding Versus Bottle-Feeding

Bottle-feeding Allows Dad to Have a Turn

If you choose to bottle-feed, your partner can take a much more active role in feeding your child. Bottle-feeding gives a father a chance to bond with his baby in a way that he can't when a mother breastfeeds exclusively.

Of course, even babies who breastfeed can occasionally feed from a bottle, giving the dad a turn. But only bottle-feeding gives both of you an equal opportunity to bond with your child as you feed her. (The father of a breastfed child can, however, bond with his child in every other way besides feeding.)

Free at Last, Free at Last

Baby Doctor

Contraceptive pills can interfere with the hormones that promote lactation. So if you decide to breastfeed, you may need to change your method(s) of contraception.

New parents have little freedom as it is. But when a new mother is breastfeeding, she has virtually no freedom at all. Because bottle-feeding allows the father and other caretakers to feed the baby, it can free up small pockets of time in a mother's schedule. So you will occasionally be able to do something for yourself: like sleeping through the night once in a blue moon, going to the gym, or just giving yourself a break from infant care.

Bottle-feeding also frees you to eat and drink whatever you want. You don't need to load up on calories the way a nursing mother does. You'll never need to worry whether you've had enough milk or whether that glass of wine you drank with dinner will make your baby tipsy or give him gas.

Baby Doctor

If you take any medications, consult your baby's pediatrician and your own doctor before beginning to breastfeed. Breast milk passes any drug that you take on to your baby. This warning also applies to illegal drugs, alcohol, and nicotine, so if you abuse any of these drugs, quit. If you can't, don't force your child to take them, too: Bottle-feed your baby.

Bottle-feeding can also give you more sexual freedom (though your exhaustion may dampen your ardor somewhat). Certainly breastfeeding does not have to interfere with new parents' sex lives; nonetheless, some parents insist it does. Lactation hormones, for example, can decrease vaginal lubrication, making it necessary for you to use artificial lubricants. In addition, both you and your partner may find your breasts less arousing when they function as the source of your baby's nourishment. Bottle-feeding can eliminate these concerns. Nonetheless, studies have shown that, perhaps surprisingly, mothers who breastfeed tend to resume an active sex life earlier than mothers who bottle-feed.

I Have to Get Back to Work!

Some working mothers have little choice but to bottle-feed their children (or combine morning and evening nursing with bottle-feeding during the day). If you need or want to return to work less than a couple of months after the birth, you may decide to bottle-feed right from the start. On-the-job breastfeeding-or even expressing milk (drawing milk manually with a breast pump for later use) during work hours-is at best impractical, and sometimes impossible. Rather than getting your baby used to suckling and then switching (at least for the most part) to bottle-feeding, you may decide to forego breastfeeding altogether.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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