Big Debate: To breastfeed or use the bottle

Pic: Press Association.

Pic: Press Association. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A report by Public Health England shows that breastfeeding rates in London are higher than the England average and have risen since 2005.

Dr Hardip Nandra Picture: Mark Sepple

Dr Hardip Nandra Picture: Mark Sepple - Credit: Archant

Here to discuss the reasons why breastfeeding is so good for both mother and baby is Dr Hardip Nandra, a Newham GP and a member of the Newham CCG.

Cathy Ranson

Cathy Ranson - Credit: Archant

Cathy Ranson, from Netmums talks about why and in which circumstances breastfeeding just isnt possible for some mums.

Dr Hardip Nandra,

“Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Breast milk is a naturally designed formula for your baby and is at the right temperature – full of critical nutrients to help your child fight infections and diseases like the common cold, chest and ear infections.


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Any amount of breastfeeding can benefit your child – however, the longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. In fact, as your baby grows breast milk changes to suit your baby’s needs.

While breastfeeding is clinically recommended in the first six months, after that, giving your baby breast milk alongside other food will help them continue to grow and develop.

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The benefits are extensive, not only are you giving your child a healthy start but breastfeeding can lower your risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer and naturally burns up to 500 calories a day.

Breastfeeding is a cheaper alternative to formula as it avoids the cost of buying, sterilising and feeding equipment.

There are myths that infant formula is basically the same as breast milk however this really is not the case. It’s not a living product so it doesn’t have the antibodies, living cells, enzymes or hormones that protect your baby.

Breastfeeding may not be possible for all mums. For many women, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical considerations that they might have.

For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is the best alternative.

New mums can call the Newham Maternity Helpline on 020 8090 9999 – available from 10am to 8pm every day – which has trained midwives waiting to answer your questions or concerns.”

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Cathy Ranson, Netmums

“We all know in an ideal world breast is best for the baby’s health – but we’re not living in an ideal world.

There are myriad reasons why a struggling new mum may not be able to exclusively breast feed for six months – and she shouldn’t be made to feel she has failed because of this.

On Netmums we regularly hear from new mothers who are not breast feeding – and sadly many have been criticised at this most sensitive time.

They may have a medical issue such as inverted nipples or be exhausted from struggling with hungry twins or triplets, which can make breast feeding more difficult. Others may need to go back to work to make ends meet so feel they have to teach their baby to take a bottle.

We’ve heard of some mums who have been advised by health professionals to supplement with bottle feeds to help their child’s weight gain – though this flies in the face of other advice out there. Others are recovering from illness or surgery and have been advised to bottle feed.

It’s a minefield for mums and they can easily feel judged and attacked at every turn – though all each and every one of them wants to do is keep their baby health, happy and safe.

But the biggest problem seems to be lack of support, with midwives and health visitors simply too busy to help women to breast feed.

If you’re new to breast feeding and struggling and your baby is crying from hunger and there’s no help or support available then turning to a bottle to ensure your child is fed and nourished is inevitably what many will do.

Attacking women who haven’t been supported to feed won’t fix it – addressing the issue with proper funding is the best solution.

Bringing a baby into the world and caring for him or her during the first few months is a huge achievement to be celebrated, whether they are raised on the breast, the bottle or a combination of both.”

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