Is breast feeding right for you and your baby? How do you choose? What are the benefits of breast feeding? What is the downside of breast feeding? Are there some mothers who should not breast feed?
Read on to find information to help you make a decision that is best for both you and your baby.
According to most sources, under normal circumstances breast feeding is best for your baby. It is the perfect food and has the best delivery system.
So what is it about breast milk that makes it so good?
- Breast milk has over 100 ingredients not found in cow’s milk and cannot be created in formula.
- Breast milk is individualized for each baby. The milk changes as the baby grows. In the first few days the milk contains colostrum – a yellowish clear liquid. It is high in white blood cells and infection fighting proteins for when the baby is new.
- Breast milk has the right amount of fats, beneficial cholesterol, powerful proteins and 20-30% more lactose than cow’s milk
- Breast milk contains highly absorbable vitamins, minerals and iron constantly adapting the disease fighting white blood cells and immunoglobulins.
What else is so great about breast feeding?
- Digestible – The most important nutrients are more absorbable and digestible.
- Safe – The milk is not contaminated.
- Bowel movements – The baby has less diarrhea or constipation. Also the bowel movements are sweeter smelling and less apt to cause diaper rash.
- Less obesity – Breast fed babies are less likely to be overweight as infants and also less likely to be obese as adults.
- Cholesterol – Breast fed babies often have lower cholesterol readings as adults.
- Higher IQ – It appears that breast feeding slightly increases a child’s IQ.
- Allergies – Babies do not have allergies to breast milk–also there are fewer food allergies in children who have been breast fed.
- Asthma etc. – Breast fed babies are less likely to develop asthma, diabetes, lymphoma and Crohn’s Disease.
- Infection fighting – Breast fed babies have fewer urinary tract infections, ear infections and colds.
- Immunizations – Breast milk improves the immune response to immunizations for most diseases.
- Mouth muscles – Breast fed babies need to suck harder to get their milk. This improves development of jaws, teeth and palate.
- Fewer cavities – Breast fed babies usually have fewer cavities as they get older.
- Convenience – The milk is always available and ready. There is nothing to measure, mix or warm.
- Cost – It is free !!!
- Shrinks uterus – Breast feeding right after birth shrinks the uterus to pre-pregnancy size and decreases blood loss.
- Rest – Since the mother needs to sit to breast feed, she is able to rest.
- Calories – Breast feeding burns off calories helping to get rid of pregnancy fat.
- Cancer – Studies show that mothers who breast feed have lower risks of breast and uterine cancers.
BEST OF ALL
- Breast feeding increases closeness to the baby and mother (bonding). The emotional benefits are immeasurable. The baby gets a sense of love, security and warmth.
- Breast feeding frees one arm to wrap around an older sibling or to read a book to him/her.
Is there a downside?
- A breast fed baby needs to feed more often especially at first due to the perfect digestibility of the milk.
- There may be some initial nipple soreness.
- Your partner or other family members may feel a little left out. To overcome this, milk can be extracted and put in a bottle for others to feed the baby.
- The mother needs to eat well, avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs, spicy foods, and smoking as these get passed through the breast milk to the baby.
- The mother cannot diet while breast feeding; however, breastfeeding consumes about 500 calories per day.
- The mother should not use oral contraceptives while breast feeding.
Are there women who should not breast feed?
- If the mother has a serious debilitating disease such as kidney or heart impairment she should not breast feed.
- An extremely underweight woman should not breast feed.
- A mother who has serious infections such as TB, AIDS or HIV should not breast feed.
- Women who need to take some medicines that could be harmful to the baby should not breast feed.
- If the mother is exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace she should not breast feed.
- Drug abusing mothers should not breast feed.
- Breast feeding needs to be a decision made by both the mother and her partner.
If you are not sure about breast feeding at least give it a try. If it isn’t for you then it is easy to switch to a bottle. Just remember all of the benefits for you and your baby and don’t give up too quickly. Breast feeding is a wonderful way to give your baby the best chance possible at good health. There are also many benefits for the mother.