A historian, computer geek, and interested in western, alternative and herbal medicine. A health enthusiast, fond of exercise and nutrition.
A Mother Breastfeeding Her Baby
Among the higher animals, particularly mankind, breastfeeding a newborn baby is common and natural. There's no alternative to mother's milk. Formulas are not the best if the baby is to be healthy and strong.
Breast milk will build your baby's immune system, and at the same time provide a defense mechanism against contagious diseases.
Better breastfeed your baby at the beginning for a few months or more. A year is best.
In this article, you will know why breast milk is better for babes and why you as a nursing mother should prefer it to infant formula.
What’s New About Breastfeeding?
A new study has shown that breasting babes can reduce the rate of infections in the lower respiratory system tract. Diarrhea and ear infections, which are common become less, with reduced obesity. The risks of sudden infant death syndrome are also low in breastfeeding babes.
Why You Should Breast Feed Your Babes
Breastfeeding or nursing is the feeding of babes with milk from the female breast. It implies that animals, both man and beast feed their babes from the breast, naturally from the mother's milk. Wiki's definition is the best I could take hold of. It is simple, clear, natural, and to the point. These are the reasons why mothers should breastfeed babes.
1. It's natural.
2. It's safe.
3. It establishes a relationship or bond between mother and child.
4. It helps develop babes' immune systems very early in their growing years.
5. Hence asthma, ear infections, and diarrhea are reduced.
6. It is recommended by many pediatrics authorities, the American Pediatrics Association, and the World Health Organization. The United Nation Children Fund, though not a pediatrics association, uphold the WHO stance.
Breast milk has all the "balanced food" your babe needs. Its perfect mixture of sugar (carbohydrates), fats, proteins, vitamins, and mineral matters is easier to digest. Its antibodies will help your babes fight off viruses and bacteria.
You, as a mother have two opinions in regards to feeding your babe. Either, you made up your mind to breastfeed your babe exclusively for over a 'year', or you take on infant formula. Breastfeeding is the best.
The challenge, however, is making the decision to breastfeed a babe. Friends, relations, and family can interfere in the matter, including parents and in-laws. I know because when my first child, a boy was about to come into the world. The feeding bottle became an issue against the mother’s breast.
The decision I have taken is to postpone the feeding bottle until after a few months. My mother put down her opinion here into the question. Breastfeeding should continue for a year and over and not just three to six months. It is this factor that I and my partner base our consideration on.
Many medical authorities and health professionals, including pediatrics professionals and certified midwives, have strongly recommended breastfeeding against all odds.
Breastfeed Children's are Strong and Healthy
What Do You Think?
Breast milk is not to give way to infant formula. The latter was animal (cow) products and is not suitable for human babes during the first six months. In spite of the latest innovations made in improving the formula, it is still not suitable for the first few months of the babe's life, though you can decide to prepare it for the babe.
Infant formula is fortified with vitamins and chemicals. The food value is low in quality. Though the foods can be natural carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, there has been processed and the natural goodness removed. Custards made with a mixture of guinea corn, sorghum, and corn if properly used, can deliver proper health benefits than infant formula.
History of Breastfeeding
A brief history shows that infant formulas were the result of negative attitudes against the breast of mothers. Feeding babes from the breast were pictured as 'uncivilized' and compared to the status of the lower animals like goats, cows, and apes. This school began in the 18th century.
With that said, this school of thought should go back to study the facts that the minus attitude against breastfeeding began from certain queens and royal families. The queens when they gave birth do not breastfeed but look for another human being to do it for them since these regard breastfeeding as highly unbecoming of their status as queens and members of a royal family. They think it is the common man of low social status that is fit only to breastfeed a baby. They paid to get the service of a maid or other person to do this for them.
So, prior to this issue, breastfeeding a baby is as natural as breathing fresh air until the arrival of the infant formula.
Let’s take another look at this question. During a pre-mature birth session, pediatricians do not prescribe the formula for the premature babe. The mother’s breast flows with milk. This was somehow pumped out and treated as 'expressed milk' for the premature babe. It is this expressed milk that the pre-mature babe is fed with until it became mature and continued on the mother’s breast.
There is this joke told to my partner by her nursing mother. Babes that are given infant formula when grown-up will horn dawn the parents and others with the head like a goat! It was such a nice and baby-friendly joke. Nonetheless, my wife goes on to breastfeed all our babes for over a year.
After the first six months, if the mother or both partners decide to go for infant formula, there are many considerations to be taken as will be seen later.
Breast Milk is Best
Breast milk is the best milk for new babes. And the perfect food for newborn babes. It provided all the nutrients-perfect mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates (sugar), vitamins, mineral matters, water, and so on. These are all easily digested by the baby. This also depends on the feeding habit and characteristics of the meals of the mother.
The more natural and nutritious the meal, the better the composition of the milk produced from the mother’s breast. Conversely, if the mother’s meal is poor, the milk secreted will also be poor in both quality and quantity. It is, therefore, easy to see that the nursing mother is properly feeding all the time with adequate foods, consisting of complex carbohydrates, fats, protein, fruits, and vegetables of various mixes.
For this reason, nursing mothers should take enough meals throughout and during the breastfeeding periods. Oily fish, like sardines, mullet, tilapia, mackerel, and eggs are good. Meat, especially lean meat, fatty meat, and poultry but not pork chop are idea. Fruits and green leafy vegetables and nuts will provide many mineral matters and antioxidants.
But care should be taken to avoid all carnivorous fish and animals. Carnivorous fish like sharks or catfish can pass toxins into the mother's breast to the baby.
Drinking much milk along with cocoa beverages is welcomed. But white sugar should be used sparsely. If available, use brown sugar. Black tea can be taken at most two times a week. Its effect on breast milk is negligible at this measure. But avoid coffee and green tea at all costs. It can have an effect on the baby.
Breast Milk and Infant Formula
|Food Items||Breast Milk||Infant Formula|
Contains natural sugars like oligosaccharides that are easily digested and assimilated
These are processed from grain cereals like soya bean, millet and guinea corn and lacks the oligosaccharide factors
Fats and oils
Rich in omega fatty acids and cholesterol.It is completely digested and absorbed because it has fat digesting enzymes and lipase.
Not easily and completely digested and absorbed.Contain no lipase.
Easilydigested and completely absorbed. Rich in brain and body building nutrients. Has accelerate growth factors and helps babes sleep well
Not completely digested, low in brain and body building factors, lacks growth factors,babes restless and unable to sleepwell
Vitamin, minerals and enzymes
Iron, zinc and calcium are best absorbed.
It is insignificant.
Positioning Babe for Better Breastfeeding
A Babe That is Breastfeed Sleeps Well
If you drink, the rule of the thumb is to wait for over two good hours before you breastfeed your babe. Otherwise, the alcohol is passed into the breast milk; and the damaging effect on the newborn is undesirable. If the mother drinks regularly, it can be lifelong harm.
One thing nearly most maternity hospitals and doctors will not like to accept is the giving of alcoholic drinks blended with black pepper or other ingredients ( and this depends on the custom and culture of the people) to nursing mothers very early in the morning after taking a bath and before breakfast. This is drunk for one to three months morning and evening in my culture. Why should then these encourage nursing mothers to drink wine on some occasions?
Naturally, the alcoholic blend help in flushing the womb or uterus clean after birth bleeding. For this purpose, some even recommended a bottle of dark stout beer once. That is why ovarian and uterine cancer is rare in many third-world countries.
Babes on the first day of birth are not fed with milk, but with colostrums. This is for the first two days. Yellowish in color, Colostrum, is high protein milk enriched with natural antibodies. It is followed by the foremilk which is thinner but has many proteins and vitamins. Next in line is the hindmilk, which is creamy and has more fat. It is on the fourth day that the regular milk began to flow. These first three stages prepared the babe's body for defense against the virus.
A plus is that breast milk contained naturally occurring antibodies. These help babes body fight off viruses and bacteria
Additionally, breastfeeding babe gets less infected with diarrhea, respiration, and ear infections. If you feed your baby for over six to twelve months on breast milk, better for you and the babe.
Breastfeeding Your Babe Makes Babes Grows Well and Healthy
Introducing Fruits and Vegetables to Babes
When a babe is six months, an attempt must be made to introduce some fruits and vegetables to it. Even fish, egg yolk not white can be introduced briefly to the babe. It is only for a taste and not a meal. But soft foods like custards can be readily made available to them in easy stages two times, day and evening until the babe feels at home with the meal. Other meals the parents and relations eat can be introduced in bits to it. Rice, yam, bread, biscuits and cakes and soups, etc Babes like to taste what their parents and siblings if any do eat.
The good thing about all this is to subject the babe to any sort of allergic reaction in the first place. If the reaction is negative that’s good. A positive reaction is a sign that the body will produce the antibody for that purpose later. So babes should be introduced to any foods the parents and siblings eat all the time.
This is the feeding of babes on breast milk only. It can be direct from the breast or expressed. Exclusive breastfeeding gears the baby for development and survival.
It’s natural for mothers to breastfeed their babes. Other higher animals like cows, sheeps, goats, and dogs do breastfeed their young. Human beings are not excempted to this natural gift.
Breast milk guarantee a child’s ‘health and survival’. It ensures better intelligence in childhood.
You can decide to exclusively breastfeed your babe for up to one year without introducing any fruit, vegetable, custard, infant formula, or water. It is defined as 'infant consumption of human milk with no supplementation of any type (no water, no juice, no non-human milk, and no foods) except for vitamins, minerals, and medications'. What is the import of this? Most vital is, that it reduces the transmission of HIV from the mother to the babe. For others, see the merits of breastfeeding below.
If you decide to exclusively breastfeed your babe, consider also if in two years it can eat any solid or semi-solid meal you prepared for it.
Breastfeeding is Declining
Worldwide, the rate of breastfeeding babes has not improved and is on the decline. Breastmilk substitutes or formulas are the factors. 2 out of 3 babes, or 3 out of 5 toddlers are not weaned from the mother’s milk. It’s sad that not much improvement has been gained in the past 20 years according to the WHO.
Nursing Mother's Consension
As a mother, you are also a worker, right? You work in a company or government agency or department. This is not a bar for you to discontinue breastfeeding when your 12 weeks maternity leave expires. You can continue to breastfeed your babe during the working period and they are no law against such issues.
Some say it is a shame to breastfeed in a public place and laws were there in some states to stop one. But the same law likewise makes a place for you called a “nursing area” where you can go and proudly breastfeed your babe.
It is not necessary for you at this time to resort to infant formula. You can continue to breastfeed the babe until the end of the six-month period. You alone re-decide if you could continue for another six months or not. If you discontinue breastfeeding your babe, the issue here will be:
- Cost of the infant formula. It is on the high side.
- Time in preparing the meal, it can take up to 45 minutes. Consider the washing of eating utensils, boiling, and cooling of water, the challenging time taken to feed the babe sometimes against its will when it wants to suck!
- Time in washing up babes eating utensils immediately after every each meal. You should not leave this for say 30 minutes before cleaning up. It will be infected. Also time in tidying up all the mess the babe did.
- In addition to the above two points, how many times should you bottle-feed babe in a day, including nights? How do you see the cost of the formula? Breastfeeding is 8 to 12 times daily excluding nights.
- The outbreak of illness, for example, diarrhea.
- Frequent visits to the hospitals or pediatric clinic.
- Worrying about an only babe’s health response to treatment.
- And much more.
Mother's Who Regularly Breast Feed Looks Healthily and Happy.
Advantages of Breastfeeding a Baby
- Babe feels secure due to skin to skin and eye-to-eye contact.
- The right balance of weight is gained instead of over-weight. When you give your babe infant formula very early, it will become overweight and this triggers 'insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus'.
- Breast milk prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SDS)
- Breast milk is supposed to lower infant diabetes
- It is less expensive than infant formula in terms of costs and man-hour.
- The cost of breastfeeding is half the cost of infant formula.
- Breastfeeding is natural and may confer advantages that science has not yet discovered.
- It is free from microbes.
- Breast milk is always at the right temperature.
- A nursing mother can change from breast milk to bottle milk, but not from bottle milk to breast milk.
- Reduces the risks of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
Benefits to Mother
- You as a mother that breastfeeds a babe well will be on the way to losing pregnancy weight well. It is on record that the hormone oxytocin is essential to return the womb to its pre-pregnancy state. It is when you properly breastfeed your baby for over six months to a year that this is easily achieved.
- Uterine bleeding that occurs during birth is reduced as breastfeeding takes place.
- Breast and ovarian cancer are reduced.
- Osteoporosis, the softening of the bones is reduced.
- It lessens postpartum depression
Importance of Breast Milk
Although break milk contains all the essential food factors for the newborn babe, its importance is in comparing it with infant formula during storage.
“Expressed milk” and infant formula will be compared while in the storage stage. Expressed milk is the mother's natural milk that is produced by massage or machine ( pump) and stored for later use. At times the milk just overflows from the breast and it was contained in a sterilized storage device for use later.
This expressed milk can keep up to eight days in a refrigeration system. Alternately, it can be frozen for six to twelve months.
Although the antibodies in the expressed milk may decrease during the storage period, it still remained at a higher peak of food value and safety than the infant formula which food values can decrease significantly.
The WHO and UNICEF Joint Step Up Effort on Breastfeeding
The World Health Organisation(WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) have jointly plead with the governments, wider public, donars, civil society, and the privat sectors on the 2022 breastfeeding week for:
- The protection, support, and promoting breastfeeding policies and programmes in risk conditions world wide.
- That this guarantee ‘a safe, nutritious, and accessible food source for babes and young children’.
- That this provide protection against disease, and malnutrition of the child is guarantee against wasting.
- Breastfeeding is babe’s first vaccine and protective against ‘common childhood illnesses’.
- In emergency settings, lack of good sanitation, privacy, physical exhaustion that are being experienced, by would-be mothers, babes are missing the many benefits of breastfeeding for survival.
- Babes are more vulnerable to diseases and death.
- The protection, promotion, and supporting of breastfeeding is of utmost important than the protection of the planet earth, for the survival, development, and growth of the infants.
- The equiping of health and nutrition workers with utmost skills to provide counsel and support of nursing mothers.
- Protecting care-givers and health care workers from being influence by the formula industry.
- Inplementing family-friendly policies that provide mothers with the need time, space, and support they need to breastfeed.
Paediatricians, especially, the American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended that babes should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. After the first 6 months, mothers should continue to maintain breast milk feeding in addition to complementary nutritional foods. This would infer fruits and vegetables, legumes and cereals.
It is also recommended that hospitals and birth centres implement the best maternal care practices that relate to improving breastfeeding because of its many benefits.
Further, breastfeeding beyond 1 and 2 years benefits the mother likewise in preventing cancer of the breast and ovaries, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The Academy further recommended policies that favoured breastfeeding in workplaces, paid maternity leave, insurance cover for lactation support, breast pumps, and the right to breastfeeding in child care centres, lactation rooms in schools, workplaces, and hospitals.
Breastfeeding has universal support among health professionals and organizations. Major among these is the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO opined thus: “Breast milk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants. Breastfeeding is about an integral part of the reproductive process with important implication for the health of mothers.” Mothers who breastfeed babes well can expect to be pregnant again. Breastfeeding prepares the womb or uterus for this.
It is recommended breastfeeding be continued frequently until the baby is two years of age and beyond this limit.
1. ABC OF NUTRITIOn, by A. Stewart Truswell, BMJ Books, London.
2. World Health Organization Breastfeeding.
3. Wikipedia breastfeeding.
4. Health Science and Physiology for Tropical Schools, by F. Daniel, Oxford University Press, London.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2015 Miebakagh Fiberesima
Miebakagh Fiberesima (author) from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on January 15, 2018:
Nursing mothers, please talk about what you like and do not like in this article. Put up suggestions to improve the story too.