Last updated: 04 October 2011
Choosing how to feed your baby is an important decision.
Many women choose to breastfeed their babies and a lot of research has been carried out showing that, in most cases, breast milk is the best choice for both mother and child.
Breastfeeding is not always possible
Despite the nutritional advantages that are associated with breastfeeding, some women may be unable to breastfeed, either for medical or practical reasons.
For example, if you have a blood-borne virus, such as hepatitis B or HIV, or if you are taking a certain type of medication, these can be passed on to your baby through your breast milk. In these circumstances, bottle feeding your baby, using formula milk, will usually be recommended.
Deciding on a suitable feeding method
There are a variety of factors that are known to influence a woman’s decision to breastfeed or bottle feed her baby. These include:
- the woman’s age,
- her level of education,
- her cultural background,
- the advice that she receives from healthcare professionals, and
- her past experience of breastfeeding.
The attitude of a woman’s partner can also be a significant factor in determining which method of feeding she chooses for her baby.
Before deciding whether to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby, you should be fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.
If you have any questions or concerns about a particular feeding method, your GP, practice nurse, midwife or a breastfeeding counsellor, will be able to give you help and advice.
If you decide to bottle feed your baby using formula milk, it is important that you receive information, support and advice from a healthcare professional so your baby gets the nutrition that it needs.
Continue to next section: Advantages of bottle feeding