I consider it a single ruthless insult to nature when a healthy, sane, active woman refuses to EXCLUSIVELY breastfeed her baby. It should be in MOTHERHOOD MANUAL 101! I mean, if a woman cannot provide her child with that free, immensely healthy and convenient food then what else would she? The Nutritionist/Dietitians and indeed the whole health community have laid endless emphasis on the irreplaceable qualities of breast milk especially in getting the infant ready for a superb life so it beats me when globalization, over modernization and simple outright laziness prompts a mother to decline this offer. Yes, I am taking it personal and Yes I am infuriated. It Is a spit in the face of my profession and all foods adequate! Now, for sake of emphasis let me broaden your horizon on the benefits of breastmilk.
A number of health organizatons — including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) — recommend breastfeeding as the best choice for babies and for good reason too! Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions. It also readies the babys’ brain for life with just the perfect amount of brain building nutrients.
The AAP recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. Beyond that, breastfeeding is encouraged until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willin. Although experts believe breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants, breastfeeding may not be possible for all women. For many, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical situations such as cancer amd HIV.
For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is a healthy alternative. Formula provides babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
Some mothers worry that if they don’t breastfeed, they won’t bond with their baby. But the truth is, loving mothers will always create a special bond with their children the situation notwithstanding. And feeding — no matter how — is a great time to strengthen that bond.
The decision to breastfeed or formula feed the baby is a personal one. Weighing the pros and cons of each method can help you decide what is best for mother and baby.
We Dietitians always preach formula feeding as a fall back option where breastfeeding is impossible. First let me tell you why this nectar from God is factory fitted and perfect for you and baby.
About Breast feeding:
Nursing can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby. It provides ideal nourishment and a special bonding experience that many mothers cherish.
Here are some of the many benefits of breastfeeding:
Fighting infections and other conditions:
Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants. During breastfeeding, antibodies and other germ-fighting factors pass from a mother to her baby and strengthen the immune system. This helps lower a baby’s chances of getting many infections, including:
Breastfeeding also may protect babies against:
*Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature babies.
Nutrition and Ease of Digestion:
Often called the “perfect food” for a human baby’s digestive system, breast milk’s components — lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat — are easily digested by a newborn. As a group, breastfed infants have less difficlty with digestion than do formula-fed infants. Breast milk tends to be more easily digested so that breastfed babies have fewer bouts of diarrhea or constipation.
Breast milk also naturally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that a newborns require. One exception is vitamin D — the AAP recommends that all breastfed babies begin receiving vitamin D supplements during the first 2 months and continuing until a baby consumes enough vitamin D-fortified formula or milk (after 1 year of age).
With no last-minute runs to the store for more formula, breast milk is always fresh and available . As an added advantage when women breastfeed, there’s no need to wash bottles and nipples or warm up bottles in the middle of the night.
One key ingredient in breastmilk is a brain-boosting fat called DHA (docasahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is a vital nutrient for growth, development and maintenance of brain tissue. Autopsy analysis of brain tissue frm breastfed and formula-fed infants show that the brains of breastfed babies have a higher concentration of DHA, and DHA levels are highest in babies who are breastfed the longest. Most Infant formulas do not contain DHA except a few fortified only recently.
Add More DHA to your Diet
To insure that babies get enough nutrients for their growing brains, it’s important that breastfeeding mothers get enough DHA in their diets. Rich sources of DHA are fish (particularly salmon and tuna). Increasing DHA consumption will benefit the mothers health too. Remember the nutritional rule of F’s: four ounces of fish a day keeps central nervous system degeneration at bay.
Cholesterol is another fat needed for optimal brain development. Breastmilk contains a lot of cholesterol, while infant formulas currently contain none. “Low in cholesterol” may be good news for adult diets, but not for babies–cholesterol provides basic components for manufacturing nerve tissue in the growing brain.
DHA, cholesterol and other breastmilk fats provide the perfect substances for manufacturing myelin, the fatty sheath that surrounds nerve fibers. Myelin acts as insulation, making it possible for nerves to carry information from one part of the brain or body to another. So important are these brain-building fats, that if mother’s diet doesn’t provide enough of them for her milk, the breasts can make them on the spot!!
Lactose is the main sugar in breastmilk. The body breaks it down into two simpler sugars – glucose and galactose. Galactose is a valuable nutrient for brain tissue development and matrurition. Anthropologists have demonstrated that the more intelligent species of mammals have greater amounts of lactose in their milk, and human milk contains one of the highest concentrations of lactose of any mammal milk. Cow milk and some cow milk formulas contain lactose, but not as much as human milk. Soy-based and other lactose-free formulas contain no lactose at all, only table sugar and corn syrup.
During the first two years of your baby’s life, the brain grows rapidly, and baby’s everyday experiences shapes brain growth. Brains cells, called neurons, multiply and connect with each other until the brain circuitry resembles miles of tangled electrical wires. Every time a baby interacts with her environment, the brain makes a new connection. Because breastmilk is digested faster, breastfed babies feed more often and therefore probably interact with their caregivers more often. Breastfeeding itself, with its skin-to-skin contact, the variations in milk flow, and the closeness between mother and baby, is usually a more interesting, more interactive experience than bottle-feeding. This is nature’s way of insuring that babies get the stimulation they need for optimal benefits from breastfeeding and brain development.
Some studies suggest that children who were exclusively breastfed have slightly higher IQs than children who were formula fed. I actually NEED this to sink into my reader.
Many nursing mothers really enjoy the experience of bonding so closely with their babies. And the skin-to-skin contact can enhance the emotional connection between mother and infant.
Benefits for Mummy:
The ability to totally nourish a baby can help a new mother feel confident in her ability to care for her baby. Breastfeeding also burns calories and helps shrink the uterus, so nursing mothers may be able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight quicker. Also, studies show that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and also may help decrease the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.
Mothers of premature babies produce breast milk that is slightly different in composition, at least for the first several weeks, and this difference is designed by nature to meet the baby’s particular needs. The premature milk is higher in protein and minerals, such as salt, and contains different types of fat that she can more easily digest and absorb. The fat in human milk helps to enhance the development of the baby’s brain and neurologic tissues, which is especially important for premature infants. Human milk is easier for her to digest than formula and avoids exposing her immature intestinal lining to the cow’s milk proteins found in premature infant formula. Premature babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop intestinal infections than are babies who are formula-fed. The milk you produce in the first few days contains high concentrations of antibodies to help your baby fight infection. Even if your baby can’t breastfeed yet, expressing breast milk from the beginning will ensure that your milk supply is maintained until your baby is able to nurse.
Easy Acceptance for Local Foods:
Nursing mothers usually need 500 extra calories per day, which means they should eat a wide variety of well-balanced foods. This introduces breastfed babies to different tastes through their mothers’ breast milk, which has different flavors depending on what their mothers have eaten. By tasting the foods of their “culture,” breastfed infants more easily accept solid foods.
Food and Drug Administrations usually regulate formula companies to ensure they provide all the necessary nutrients (including vitamin D) in their formulas. Still, commercial formulas can’t completely match breast milk’s exact composition. Why? Because milk is a living substance made by each mother for her individual infant, a process that can’t be duplicated in a factory.
Free breast milk doesn’t cost a cent, while the cost of formula quickly adds up. And unless you’re pumping breast milk and giving it to your baby, there’s no need for bottles, nipples, and other supplies that can be costly. Since breastfed babies are less likely to be sick, that may mean they make fewer trips to the doctor’s office, so fewer co-pays and less money are paid for prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.
By Prince chubuike Samuel
Lawrence RM, Lawrence RA (2009). The breast and physiology of lactation. In RK Creasy et al., eds., Creasy and Resnik’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 6th ed., pp. 125-142. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 128(5): 1030-1039.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Breastfeeding. In RE Kleinman, ed., Pediatric Nutrition Handbook, 6th ed., pp. 29-59. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.