Breast feeding happens when a lactating reproductive female gives her baby milk from her breast. Breast feeding provides significant protection against diarrhea, reduces the incidence and severity of ear infections and allergies, provides protection against SIDS, decreases the risk of diabetes, protects against childhood lymphomas, and enhances mental development.
It also benefits mothers by reducing the risks of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. It also provides protection against osteoporosis, returns a mother to her pre-pregnant weight faster, is more convenient, less expensive, and provides child spacing.
When compared to instant formula, a mother's breast milk contains non-nutrient components that are missing from formula. Also, there are financial ($1500/year), environmental, and quality control issues with formula milk that do not apply to breast milk. Formula feeding is also associated with higher infant mortality.
Babies may not be able to achieve their nutritional goals if they are sleepy, irritable, have various pathological syndromes, has a cleft palate or cleft lip, is tongue tied, has facial palsy, is premature or ill.
Supplementation of breast milk may happen if the baby was born at less than 36 weeks gestation or weighs <2500 grams, has low or falling blood sugars, has not swallowed at the breast in 24-48 hours, or requires phototherapy. Supplementation is also used if the mother is in critical or unstable condition and is unable to breastfeed.