Great article showing the benefits of breastfeeding.
22 February 2008 – 5:00AM
Breastfeeding benefit no baby talk
By KATELIN McINERNEY
More women than ever are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding their children, but few are aware of the dangers associated with ceasing breastfeeding too early in a child’s life.
University of Wollongong doctoral student Nina Berry has warned many women do not receive enough information about the risks associated with weaning infants too early.
“The ‘breast is best’ message is a mantra women all over the world can recite now,” she said.
“To say that ‘breast is best’ is to suggest that what breastfeeding offers is a handful of optional bonuses and that formula-fed infants are the normal standard for comparison.
“But it may have obscured the well-established risks associated with early weaning from breastfeeding and while most people accept that breastfed babies are healthier, they do not understand that this means that formula-fed babies are likely to be sicker.”
Ms Berry, from the University’s Centre for Health Initiatives, co-authored a report on her findings with Dr Karleen Gribble from the University of Western Sydney.
She said women needed to be better informed of the health risks by health professionals.
The World Health Organization recommends children be breastfed for up to two years and should not be given any food or drink other than breast milk for their first six months.
My Comments: New and expecting mothers need to be better educated on this topic. I know it is a “hot” topic, but there really is no debate when it comes to breast vs. bottle. Formula is not and will never be even close to breastmilk. Anyone who says different is simply uneducated on the topic. There is way too much evidence to back this up. Not that formula is bad, it just is not breastmilk.
I do understand not all women can breastfeed their child and I am sensitive to that. Some have certain illnesses must take medication that could cross the milk and harm an infant. Obviously in such cases the health of the mother is more important than her breastfeeding her child and posing additional risk (in the past this is where a wet nurse would come in).
However if you do have a medical condition that requires medication and you really want to breastfeed, please do not take your specialists word for it that the medicine you are taking puts your child at risk. Google the medication and its safety while nursing. Get your hands on Dr. Thomas Hale’s book Medications and Mother’s Milk. He is a doctor who has done extensive research on many types of drugs and how it affects nursing moms and their babies. Many specialists are too quick to say certain drugs are not safe, when in fact they are, or there may be effective and safer alternatives available.
I have a friend who had to be on medication for a blood cot that formed in her leg soon after her daughter’s birth. The doctor at the hospital said she would not be able to nurse her newborn — she was heartbroken as she really wanted to breastfeed. After consulting with a good lactation consultant and other doctors, she discovered the medication was in fact safe. She immediately started pumping and sending milk home from the hospital for her newborn daughter.
Of course, in some instances, there may not be a safe alternative leaving a mother who does want to breastfeed no choice but to offer formula. Your pediatrician can help you find the best formula for your baby. Be aware that a new study shows DHA / ARA in infant formula may be harmful. This study does not say all formula is harmful, but many babies have had bad reactions to formulas with DHA / ARA. So if you choose to formula feed or you need to supplement while still breastfeeding, you may want to consider those that do not contain DHA / ARA.
In the US, human breast milk banks are hard to find, but are an option for those who cannot medically breastfeed. You must have a prescription from your pediatrician and it is quite expensive if you can even get access to it.
Educate yourself to make the best decision for your family. It is not hard to breastfeed and be successful at it – find a good support system, a pro-breastfeeding pediatrician and don’t listen to people who are not educated about breastfeeding. Surprisingly, many in the medical field are not educated about breastfeeding, sadly this includes many pediatricians (fortunately, mine is not one of them) and even the nurses at the OB’s office (I have been a victim here).
Before I got pregnant, I figured I’d “try” breastfeeding (after all it is free!). Once I started to read and learn more about it, I questioned why more people didn’t try to breastfeed being there were so many benefits (and it was free!). Then I realized it is lack of education, and I personally fell into this trap. I do not want to offend friends or anyone, so I sometimes bite my tongue when someone says something about breastfeeding that is simply not true, I probably should not do this everytime. It’s hard to find a balance when you want to clarify and but not offend. Every situation is unique of course, and many who know the benefits will still choose to formula feed even if they can breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is beautiful and a perfect way to bond with your new baby. Breastfeeding experiences differ from mom to mom, so don’t be afraid if you hear about bad experiences. Mine has been great and going strong now for 23 months. If you choose to breastfeed, my best advice is give things 6-8 weeks to establish a rhythm with your baby. It does not hurt and it is perfectly natural.
Some other facts:
UNICEF and the WHO recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of life (no water, juice or other foods) and offer complementary foods thereafter until at least age 2. The American Academy of Pediatrics also agrees and supports breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by the mother and child.
UNICEF says “Research shows that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months – with continued breastfeeding for the first year – could save 1.3 million lives every year,” says Miriam Labbok, UNICEF Senior Advisor on Infant and Young Child Feeding.
“This is well over 3,000 lives each and every day. And if breastfeeding is continued alongside appropriate complementary feeding until at least age two – we could be saving 5,500 additional lives each and every day of every year.”
Resources to learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits to mother and baby: