This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Having two sons now who were breast fed until they could eat solid foods, I can insert my 2 cents.
My wife did not have difficulty producing breast milk. Comparing her with other mothers who did have difficulty producing there was one glaring difference -- Water intake. My wife is obsessed with drinking enough water. I suspect that she may drink too much water (or more precisely drink too much water and not ingest enough salt), but that is for a different discussion. The women I have met who had difficulty producing also seemed to have difficulty ingesting water. Not that that is truly the problem. Quite likely it has to do with the wide range of people and the fact that breast feeding has been made non-survival with the advent of Nestle's solution.
Formula fed babies are amost all "fat" in my experience. They do gain weight faster. Whether this is good or bad, I wouldn't hazard a guess.
Epidemiology has been used heavily on this rudimentary subject. As with most epidemiology it always misses the point. The point is to get nourishment into a child so that it can grow up. PERIOD. End Story. Stop printing.
Breast feeding saved us a lot of money. As did feeding our baby the same food we ate. Well almost. We just cooked Green beans, Yams (sweet potatoes), broccoli, and a couple of other vegetables, pureed them and then froze them in ice trays. Defrosted them when it was time to eat. Our first child had some baby food from the store, but our second child ate significantly less than that. I am not implying that store bought baby food is bad, just that the food comes from somewhere and there is nothing magical about it.
Just as their is nothing all that magical about breast milk. If your wife doesn't like breast feeding, she shouldn't do it. If she does, she should. The baby will survive just fine either way so long as the parents excercise control over themselves and let the child grow up.
Now... If it turns out that your wife is this time around a Cow, there is a lot of money to be made in breast milk. Because of the hoopla around the rather unstable substance, athletes are paying unbelievable prices for it (I have heard numbers as $8/ounce). At her peak, my wife was producing upwards of 40 ounces a day. She would never turn herself into a milk cow, but a woman could find such work lucrative. The wet nurse occupation may resurge.
One last piece of simple advice. Make sure you know what breast milk tastes like. It spoils very easily. When feeding unfrozen breast milk to a child, the child sometime can be very fussy. It turned out that sometimes the milk starts to sour in the freezer. This is especially true if you were silly enough to breath in the milk bag to expand it to put the pumped breast milk. Saliva being what it is, it is a bad idea to have it contact milk in any form that needs to survive. Frozen breast milk is actually unpleasant in general, but there is a difference between spoiled frozen breast milk and good frozen breast milk. Tasting it will let you distinguish between the two.
Oh... Did I forget to say that sampling from the source is also important.
Now I am worried that someone might think my mouth uncouth.....
Sorry, can't help on the breast milk front and I don't think it is a subject which will be of direct concern to me in the immediate future, unless related to grandchildren but hopefully that is not imminent.
However there does seem to be a big effort to persuade mothers to breast feed at the moment, even to do so in public it seems.
Too much perversion potential for my liking which is rather odd as official policy since anything that might be thought to be related to perversion seems to be banned or harrassed as a matter of precautionary principle.
On the other hand it might just be another attempt to inflame religious sentiments and create an even deeper culture of fear - in the same way as giving Rushdie a knighthood. I can't think of another reason for giving him a knighthood and I can't think of a good reason for encouraging women to breast feed in public.
Wel,, maybe one. It could be useful to have such a concept accepted early on the green push to get us all back living in caves.
My wife is very active with a breastfeeding support organisation so we have been in this debate for more than a decade. My wife is, of course, a convert to numberwatch and junkscience critical and objective thinking so she doesn't play up the breastfeeding "epidemiology". I think if the eco-theological bureacrats are pushing breastfeeding it is probably not a good thing. Two wrongs don't make a right, even if Nestlé has been unethical in its artificial baby milk advertising.
The biggest problem with the artificial baby milk industry is that they push their free samples (much like a street drug pusher gets you hooked first). Breastfeeding doesn't go well when mixed with bottle feeding as breastmilk supply is stimulated by demand. Supplementing with artificial milk is a sure way to stop breastmilk supply. The resulting nipple confusion in the baby exacerbates this as babies find it easier to suck from a bottle, so they lose the ability to suck from the breast. If that unethical marketing technique is discourage then it can be a good thing.
Aside from the bad epidemiology there are a lot of benefits to breastfeeding and the cost is the major one. Convenience is another as there is nothing to carry around when travelling, no need to get up in the middle of the night, and Dads get a good night's sleep!
I still find it more than astounding that an industry can thrive supplying an expensive but inferior product when a better, more convenient and FREE alternative is available to virtually all women.
Free to virtually all women except those, like my wife, who found it difficult and painful with number one child (especially after a c-section and producing a very large and hungry baby) and therefore decided in advance that no attempt at breast feeding would be made with child 2. This was confirmed by another large baby and a further c-section which was of course to be expected after the first one.
The apparent 'failure' weighed on her mind at the time, probably still does deep down.
The idea of breast feeding in public would almost certainly be distasteful to her no matter what her hormonal balance. Thus her options to get out of the house would have been been severely restricted.
Sleepless nights were rarely a problem for me - long hours at work at the time and regular travel kept me away many nights.
We are lucky that the last century or so has allowed free personal choice on many matters with no clear and consistent evidence of certain harm if one choice is made over another. It seems to me the current rush to enforce a return of developed society to the bosom of nature has no sound basis.
On the other hand, if natural recourses are to be the rule, why not hit some numbers on every front by banning IVF treatment? That would save money in all directions and help to cut humanity's 'carbon footprint' too.
Perhaps even more important is that it seems so selfish to be producing children when we know that theirs will be the generation to suffer most as the temperature soars and the floodwaters rise in the next 40 to 50 years. Can people not understand that?
It seems not if the recent reports about an incrweasing birth rate are to be believed (unless that effect is just displacement from other parts of the world).