|MYTH VERSUS FACT: Busting breastfeeding myths|
Myth: Modern formulas are almost the same as breastmilk.
Fact: Although formula attempts to duplicate breastmilk, its composition is in no way identical. Breastmilk contains antibodies, living cells, enzymes, and hormones that cannot be synthetically replicated, and changes as your baby grows. The ratios of the specific components between breastmilk and formula are very different. For example, formula is higher in protein, aluminum, manganese, cadmium, and iron. Also, breastmilk's composition changes during feedings and day-to-day to give your baby exactly what he needs, and formula does not have this ability to change. Breastmilk differs from mom to mom and each mom produces it specifically for her baby, which is why it offers specialized nutrition and immunization benefits for your baby.
Myth: Formula digests easier than breastmilk.
Fact: Breastmilk is actually much easier for babies to digest than formula because the fats and proteins in breastmilk are easily broken down and absorbed. The simple truth is that human milk is made for a human baby to digest, as opposed to synthetically created formula. This means that breastfed babies usually have fewer digestive problems, such as constipation, gas, spitting up, and fussiness. This is also why formula-fed babies tend to have longer periods of time between feedings, since it takes longer for them to digest the formula.
Myth: I can supplement breastmilk with formula without any negative side effects.
Fact: By using formula to replace a feeding, you might experience a drop in your breastmilk supply, which might decrease the length of time you are able to breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand, and the less your baby feeds from your breast, the more likely it is that your supply will dip.
Myth: Moms who formula-feed get more sleep.
Fact: There is a common misperception among mothers that if they formula-feed during the night, they will get more sleep. Although this seems logical because formula keeps babies fuller longer, studies are finding the complete opposite. A study performed by Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett found that mothers who breastfeed report waking up more often throughout the night, but report receiving better and more sleep than formula-feeding mothers. This is because breastfeeding in the middle of the night takes less time than preparing a bottle. That means that breastfeeding mothers wake up more often, but spend less time awake than formula-feeding mothers and in the end, get more sleep.
Myth: Formula contains no sugar because it's not listed on the ingredients list.
Fact: Studies have shown that formula on average contains between one and three teaspoons of sugar per serving. Although lactose is the ingredient in some brands, the main sugar found in breastmilk, other brands contain sucrose. Sucrose is made up of glucose and fructose. Studies have found that the overconsumption of fructose can lead to health problems like diabetes and hypertension. The main problem with the sugar in formula is that it is not listed on the label, so it's impossible for mothers to make an informed decision.
There's no definitive answer when it comes to the debate between formula and breastmilk. Every family is different, so that's a question every mom needs to answer on her own. But with so many options out there, it's even more important to stay informed and know the facts.