Breastmilk: what could be more natural than that?

13 02 2012

One of the many choices you are faced to when you are pregnant is what to feed your infant: formula of breast milk? And being informed to make that decision is fundamental. After reading some about it, you will probably come to the conclusion that breast milk is really the better choice under any category you want to analyze it.

Breast milk is the best for your baby’s health.

Breast milk has everything your baby needs, it contains the right proportion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In the same way that cow’s milk is just perfect for her calf, a mother’s milk is perfect for her baby. Formula companies have refined the recipe to a point that a formula fed baby is healthy enough, but formula is derived from cow’s milk or soy and does not have everything a baby needs, most importantly it does not have the antibodies that the mother transfers through her milk. Unlike formula, breast milk is never contaminated (except if the mother has a disease such as AIDS, but in most other diseases a mother can still breast feed) and it is not dangerous for the child. If the mother is sick, it is unlikely that the virus of bacteria will be transmitted through the milk, but the antibodies that she has generated will, protecting her child from becoming sick.

Research shows that breastfed babies have less chances of developing diabetes type 1, which is unrelated to diet and lifestyle (so detractors cannot attribute this to healthy habits that the mother teaches), also a reduced risk of SIDS, lower chances of orthodontics problems which are related to bottle feeding, a correct development of tongue and jaw muscles that leads to less speech problems as the child grows, and less chances of stomach ulcers as adults. And these are just some of the benefits!

Breast milk is the best for the mother’s health.

The longer a woman breast feeds along her life (for her different children) the less chances she has of developing breast cancer. A breast feeding mother will, contrary to what might be thought, have a higher bone density and be protected against osteoporosis, compared to a non breast feeding mother. Besides this, breast feeding and skin to skin contact both release “feel good” hormones which can help fight or avoid postpartum depression. Additionally, some hormones released while breast feeding fight stress, helping the mother to relax… and let’s face it, any new mother needs some relaxing times!

Breast milk is the best for the environment.

There is no manufacturing, no polluting techniques, no packaging to dispose of in the landfill. Need I say more?

Breast milk is the cheapest.

It’s free!! 😀 You do not have to go buy it, your body makes it. Yes, you need to eat to produce it, but you would be eating anyway. While breast milk takes about an extra 500 Kcal. to be made, there is no evidence supporting that you need to eat more to make it. Research shows that for milk production to be compromised, a woman has to be in starving conditions, so while I personally would not diet while breast feeding I see no problem with limiting your calorie intake. Plus think of all those calories being burned to produce milk as a way to manage your post pregnancy weight!

Breast milk is the most convenient.

Yes, I know, we’ve all heard about how awesome is that dad gives baby a bottle in the middle of the night. I call shenanigans on that! Let me tell you what: been there, done that… and I would breast feed for convenience any day! Breast milk is already made in you, it is at the right temperature and requires no cleaning. When Ignacio was bottle fed I remember having to get up in the middle of the night, get the formula out of the fridge, which I had prepared before going to bed, warm it up making sure it was not too hot for him, then in the morning clean all the bottles and nipples… added to everything else I was going through as a new mom, it was exhausting!

Also, need to go out? Your diaper bag is so simple to pack! No need to prepare bottles, nor put them in heat isolating bags, no need to clean afterwards. Your breast milk will be there for your baby at any time, as many times as you need! My diaper bag is one pocket in my purse in which I put the diapers and wipes. That’s about it, and I love it that way!

So, while ultimately it will be each mother’s decision what to feed her baby, and that will greatly depend on what works for her family (breast feeding long term can be challenging if you need to go back to work too soon!) it is important that every woman and her partner knows the facts about breast milk. There is heavy advertising by formula companies that aims to make people believe that it is the same (or even better! *shudders*) to give formula or breast milk to a baby. It is not. It is important that a mother is informed so she can make the right choice based on facts.

Do you have any insight you would like to share? Please, leave a comment, I would love to read!

Sources:

La Leche League International.

Breastfeeding Made Simple. 2010. Kendall-Tacket and Morbacher

Mayo Clinic.

American Academy of Pediatricians.

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7 responses

13 02 2012
tubbytelly at gmail dot com

I totally agree!! We as a country need to place importance to this small act, encouraging it from the moment of birth, in the first weeks, months, and years. We need to provide the guidance and support, whether for working or stay at home moms.

14 02 2012
Constanza

Yes, that is true, there is a lot of verbal support but very little of real, tangible help that would make breastfeeding a successful reality for more mothers. Thank you for your comment!

13 02 2012
Maureen Saguna

I wrote about breastfeeding several times because I feel so strongly about it but some of my readers came back to me with their own stories and I had to admit that in some cases it wasn’t possible to breastfeed or really hard. So most of all, determination is key. You can see my posts about it here: http://islandfairy.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/in-defence-of-the-boobies/ , here: http://www.sundaycircle.com/2012/01/breast-is-best-or-is-it-part1/ and here: http://www.sundaycircle.com/2012/01/breast-is-best-or-is-it-part2/

14 02 2012
Constanza

Maureen, I do not so much feel as think that breast feeding is the best way of feeding a baby. Why do I make this distinction? Because if I would have left it to the sentimental side of my self I would have ended up crying and calling it quits. It took me three months (yes, you read that right: three months!) to make nursing possible. I also believe that a woman needs to analyze the information and make her decision (whatever it is) being well informed. I would not condemn a woman that has decided not to breast feed, she knows her reasons and I don’t. After all, the generation that was almost exclusively bottle fed are the PhD’s of today.

13 02 2012
Kelsie Harris

I just wrote a post about how breastfeeding benefits all members of our society by saving taxpayers money and being eco-friendly, in addition of course, to the benefits to the mother and child. You make a good point about breastfeeding being challenging for some mothers who have to return to work and I think that’s a problem. I really think that breastfeeding needs to be more of a priority in our society with employers making it possible for breastfeeding mothers to pump in sanitary conditions without fear of being fired. There is no current legislation which protects breastfeeding mothers from discrimination in the work place and while current legislation does require employees to allow breastfeeding mothers breaks to pump in a private space, this only applies to about half of moms in the work place.

14 02 2012
Constanza

Hey, I love that you also provided references! 🙂 Great minds think alike? hahaha! 🙂
I agree that there needs to be a push from the workforce and the government for really encouraging breast feeding. I have a friend that will have to return to work 23 days after delivering (ouch!) and I hope she can make it, but I wonder how she will manage, to breast feed her baby.

30 01 2013
Nursing Ignacio: My battle with breastfeeding I « Sensibly Green

[…] me first say though, that while I am a strong supporter of breast feeding, I do not think a mom is not a good mom for choosing formula over breast milk, we all have our own […]

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