Importance of Breastfeeding

Great article showing the benefits of breastfeeding. 

Illawarra Mercury
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:

kellymom.com

Mothering from the heart: Benefits for Mom and Baby

Keep Kids Healthy

UNICEF

WHO

La Leche Leauge

Dr. Sears

Related Articles:

  • Breastmilk contains stem cells
  • Breastfeeding makes top 10 list of cancer preventers
  • Breastmilk cures
  • Can breastmilk cure cancer?
  • BPA-free milk storage, bottles and sippy cups
  • Pregnant women told to avoid BPA
  • What if I want to wean my baby?
  • Breastfeeding Language
  • Formula feeding is easy
  • Disturbing news about ARA / DHA in infant formula
  • Long journey for mother’s milk
  • About these ads

    17 responses to this post.

    1. Posted by SS on March 3, 2008 at 7:11 pm

      Oh my gosh…this is ridiculous. You are being so entirely insensitive about this breastfeeding thing. I cannot believe that you are so narrow-minded!!! Some people don’t want to breastfeed! And by darn, that is their freaking right! And no one needs the likes of you berating them for it!

      Your words…” I questioned why more people don’t breastfeed.” Maybe because they can’t!!! There are many reasons why someone would choose not to breast feed. And I can guarantee you that it isn’t simply because they aren’t “educated”. That is just silly.

      Again, your wors…”I do not want to offend my friends, so many times I bite my tongue when they say something about breastfeeding that is not true”…I suggest you continue to bite your tongue. If you came at me with your all-knowing attitude about breastfeeding, I would absolutely go ballistic. If they want your advice, rest assures, they will ask you for it. Otherwise, its just like getting those pesky solicitation calls during dinner…no body asked for it, which probably means they don’t want it!

      I personally think that it a little bothersome for people to breastfeed their children past about a year old. But that is their business and I have no intention of trying to “spread the word” or convert people to my way of thinking!!

      But seriously, I think that everyone reading your blog has gotten your point….you are pro-breastfeeding. We get it. I can’t imagine that you are going to change anyone’s mind at this point, if you haven’t been able to by now.

      Reply

    2. Posted by Trisha on March 4, 2008 at 9:17 am

      Wow, did you read all the words I wrote? If so, you would see I am very sensitive to those who can’t breastfeed. Also, if someone said the sun really had no purpose and it was stupid to have it in the sky, would you let them tell this to others without saying something? I have heard people say such outlandish things about breastfeeding — as ridiculous as the sun example. I am not talking about those who share their personal experience because that is real, but many people spread lies. If people choose not to breastfeed or can’t, then that is their business, but no one has a right to spread lies. And most do this unknowingly.

      Also, many people use the articles I share as a resource for breastfeeding information (as you can see, I don’t personally author many of them, though I do share my own comments). If you are not one of those people, then just don’t read the articles on breastfeeding. It’s that simple. There are categories you can choose from on the side, as well as a list of recent articles, so pick what interests you and read those. If a topic does not interest you, then don’t read it. I will continue to post on this topic.

      But in either case, thanks for visiting and I hope you will find some non-breastfeeding topics that interest you.

      Reply

    3. Posted by sara on March 4, 2008 at 9:34 am

      SS, YOU are being ridiculous. I find this information helpful. I agree that you should simply not read the article if you are not interested in breastfeeding.

      Trisha, keep up the good work. There are many of us who enjoy reading articles on this topic. While I didn’t breastfeed my first for very long, this information has opened my eyes and I certainly respect anyone who breastfeeds for any amount of time.

      Thanks again for the information. I really liked the one on breastmilk cures too — very interesting!

      Sara

      Reply

    4. Posted by Abby on March 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm

      Gee, SS simmer down. I also enjoy the articles, so I hope the blog owner does not take your comments personally. If you don’t like the topic, then don’t read it!! Gee, this is not a blog centered around what YOU want. You really should not tell someone how to run their blog. The blog owner sounds very sensitive to me. I have also been in the same shoes and know what it is like to have someone say things that simply are not true, and I find myself biting my toungue. This goes for things beyond breastfeeding. We all have different views on raising children and I praise this mother for helping bring the topic of breastfeeding to the forefront. Too many people are jadded in their views because our society depicts breasts as sex objects, and not what they were designed for, which is to feed our children — and to that point, for however long the mother and child desires. You saying you think it is bothersome for children to nurse beyond a year, well sorry to say that your belief goes against what the AAP, WHO and UNICEF recommends. You are however entitled to your opinion, it’s just not backed up by anything more than societal views.

      Reply

    5. Posted by trinity on March 4, 2008 at 3:36 pm

      SS you are rude. I am nursing my 2 1/2 year old and know exactly how this mother feels. I have to bite my tounge as well. Sadly our society is “narrow-minded” not the author. Kudos and thank you for standing up for breastfeeding and all its benefits. I agree with the author that it is a choice, but too often new mothers get bad information and no one is honest with them for fear of hurting their feelings. Sad we put being “politically correct” over improving the health of others.

      Reply

    6. Posted by Brady on March 4, 2008 at 4:27 pm

      My wife is nursing our 2 year old. I was against it at first, but reading information like what you have provided on your website and talking openly with my wife has helped me see all the great benefits our son is getting. I have a lot of co-workers who think this is odd, but it works for our family and research is supporting us, as does our pediatrician.

      The first person who commented does seem pretty angry, but I do not see anything wrong with what you posted. My wife and I thought it was heartfelt and you seemed sympathetic to us. No one should be angered by it. Yes breastfeeding is a choice, but most make that decision without really knowing much about what is involved on either side. Formula feeding is a lot of work too. My sister formula fed and she envied my wife who was able just to pop the baby on and off. My niece had to wait for her bottle to warm up. Everyone just needs to do what is right for their personal situation.

      Reply

    7. Posted by Cyndi & Emilie on March 6, 2008 at 11:34 am

      “SS”… chill out honey and get a clue! If you’re believing that formula (which is made with cow’s milk) is just as good as human breastmilk… well, I think the formula companies have you duped.

      Reply

    8. Posted by Jennifer & Gannon on March 6, 2008 at 2:49 pm

      GOOD JOB TRISHA~~
      SS~I agree if you dont agree with it DONT READT IT!
      I ALSO feel bad that you (obviously) havent had the joy to experiance the closeness and the wonderful joy you get from breastfeeding! ( now if you couldnt BF your baby because of a medical reason I am sorry)
      Knowing that you are doing the BEST thing for your baby and giving it the BEST start possible in this crazy world, is the best feeling as a mother!

      GOD BLESS YOU AND IF YOU DONT LIKE IT DONT LOOK AT IT AND DONT READ IT!

      Thanks!
      Jen & Gannon!
      OH BTW I am nursing a 2 yr old….

      Reply

    9. Posted by Esper on March 6, 2008 at 3:16 pm

      I LOVE THE ARTICLE AND YOUR BLOG AND SAY BREASTFEEDING IS THE WAY TO GO! :) KUDOS TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE THAT INFORM THEMSELVES ON THE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING AND CONTINUE PROVIDING THEIR CHILDREN WONDERFUL BENEFITS.

      IF YOU ASK MY OPINION, SS IS JEALOUS!

      Reply

    10. Posted by WS on March 6, 2008 at 4:21 pm

      It is sad that so many people are misinformed. Anyone who wants to breastfeed can ask for help, but if they ask the wrong person, they might end up weaning early.

      As for having a right to not breastfeed, that is true. You also have the right to smoke while pregnant or in a closed car with your baby. There’s no law saying you have to make the best choices. But it sure does help to have good info before you make your choices.

      Reply

    11. Posted by SS on March 6, 2008 at 5:43 pm

      Esper (and the rest!)…no, I am not jealous. I actually did breastfeed my child. And was glad that I did. And Cyndi, I never once said that formula was a “better choice”. I said that for some it’s the ONLY choice. My point is this…breastfeeding is a personal choice. If someone chooses not to do that, it is their right. I just think that it is very hard being a mommy (the most wonderful kind of “hard” that there is though). And most mommy’s feel some sort of guilt about something or other each and every day. And for those people who choose not to breastfeed, it is very hurtful and condescending to insinuate that those mommy’s didn’t do the absolute best for their child.

      I kind of equate it to this. There are lots of mommy’s who stay at home with their children. There are lots of mommy’s who work. I personally chose to stay at home. But just because I feel that staying home with my child is the best choice for my family, does not mean that I think that those who choose to work (or HAVE to work) are making bad choices for their children. They love their children just as much as I love mine. And they are doing what they feel is the best for their family. And just like there is TONS of research advocating breastfeeding, there is just as much research advocating staying at home with your children. But that just isn’t always feasible for people. And the last thing those mommy’s need is to feel guilty about that choice.

      You can argue the points on just about every single thing having to do with children….to vaccinate or not vaccinate, to use organic food or not, to do private schools, homeschool or public school, to watch educational tv programs or not any tv at all until they are 2 (I could go on but i wont :-) ). Everything is a choice. And I am ALL for educating yourself and every aspect of your child’s life. Because, I think we can ALL agree here, that all we want to do is to be the best possible parent we can be. We all do the VERY best that we can do within the constraints that we call LIFE!

      My point is this…be sensitive and compassionate all people and all mother’s. Because believe me, being a mom is a stressful job (as I know you can all attest to). So before you berrate someone for not doing something the way you think it should be done, remember that it might be that a mommy who has had a horrible day and is on the brink of tears might read these posts…and they may possibly make her feel even worse for her choices. And no one wants to feel that way. Please just be more open to other’s points of view. And a little more senstive to how people feel and the pressures that we are all facing as mom’s!

      Reply

    12. SS, I would have no problem being compassionate for those who “choose” not to breastfeed if they didn’t turn around and attack me for still breastfeeding. My daughter is 26 months now and I have actually had a mom send me a private message telling me how SICK I was for still breastfeeding. All this post was was on facts. You didn’t have to read it. In fact, any formula feeding mom does not have to read it. It is there as information for those who may need it. This is not your blog. The author has a right to put whatever she wants on HER blog. If you have a blog, you have the right as well. Some people put ads on their blogs. Some people post articles of things that interest them. And some people just talk about their kids. There is a wonderful little thing in this country called FREE SPEECH. There’s also something called owning your feelings. Moms who feel guilt for their choices need to examine why. Why is it that simple facts make them so upset? I’ll admit, I had that problem with some of the posts I was getting in my ICAN group (a group against c-sections). Some of the information there was VERY hard to read and I felt guilt, a LOT of guilt. But I do not attack moms who post the information, I move on. I get what I can from it, whatever my emotions let me because the information is good to know. Parents make mistakes. Parents make choices that are not always the best but parents CAN make better choices. Some don’t want to. Some want to be pat on the head and told “it’s ok!” Personally, I think that is the problem with this country. Too many people say “That’s ok!” when really, they shouldn’t. No, it’s not okay to put your kids at risk with certain behaviors. And YES, there is a risk to formula. Kids can even DIE from it. Babies in third world countries die EVERYDAY because of formula and kids in this country do too. But, for some reason, the choice the MOM makes is more important. I find that sad. Making the MOM feel better about herself is MORE important than the HEALTH of her child. Really, too bad. And people wonder why their is such a health care crisis in this country.

      Reply

    13. Posted by Da WIC Lady on March 6, 2008 at 11:12 pm

      I saw nothing in the commentary on the article that was belittling, berating, or accusing non-breastfeeding moms of being bad mothers. SS, you are taking this way out of context and proving the point that Trisha was trying to make; that there isn’t enough factual common knowledge about breastfeeding and the dangers of using formula when it’s not medically indicated. I don’t know of a single breastfeeding mother or breastfeeding activist who would condemn a mother who gave their baby formula for a medical reason. What makes many people angry is the idea that formula, which is inferior to human milk for feeding human babies, is being abused as a supposed convenience item instead of the last resort that it should be. Choosing to use formula is what many people who understand the risks involved can’t understand. When it’s medically necessary to use formula, that’s not a choice, it’s a matter of life and death. There is no shame in saying, “I choose to use formula because I didn’t have the support to breastfeed/was unable to pump enough/didn’t know the risks.” Knowing the facts and still not doing your best to give your child the optimal start in life is tantamount to abuse. Saying, “I have the right to formula feed because it’s just as good.” even in the face of documented facts put out by established and respected organizations to the contrary is denial at best and outright dangerous at worst. Nobody is passing judgment on you specifically by simply presenting facts. Multiple studies on the dangers of formula feeding or the benefits of breastfeeding beyond 12 months were not done to make you or anyone else feel guilty or shamed as a mother. If these facts strike a chord with you and make you second guess your choices as a parent, then do more investigation and decide what, if anything, you will change with the next child. Nobody is going to condemn you for making bad choices if you had bad information, but if you do have the facts before you and you choose to ignore them, don’t cry if people let you have it for choosing to not give your child every possible advantage. Everyone expects to catch grief for not putting their child in safety seats, letting the older ones ride a bike without a helmet, smoking around babies, and other things that can impact our children negatively, but bring up feeding methods and all of a sudden peer reviewed and evidence based studies are meaningless? It doesn’t work that way, SS. Trisha, keep up the good work. You were a lot more gentle and generous than I generally am off the clock, as I have to be as diplomatic as you were above on this topic at work every day with people who have very little motivation to listen even though WIC is only a supplemental program and may not provide all the formula their babies will need.

      Anna B

      Reply

    14. Posted by Amy on March 7, 2008 at 8:10 am

      SS, you are being too judgmental! In my opinion, the blog owner was very sensitive to people who cannot breastfeed. It’s not like she’s going around saying that those who choose formula are bad mothers or terrible people. If some mothers feel bad about their choices, those are THEIR emotions – no one can MAKE them feel that way.

      The fact is, sometimes formula can be a better choice for a family for certain reasons. But that absolutely does NOT mean that feeding formula is the best option for the baby. The best food for an infant is breastmilk – PERIOD. Sometimes formula is the only option or a mother will feel crazy being “attached” to her baby all the time or whatever. But just because formula is an available and viable choice does not mean that it is healthy.

      I am currently breastfeeding my 16-month-old, but I sometimes feel “guilty” about other things that I do or don’t do because I always wonder if what I am doing is best. Isn’t that just the nature of a mother, because we all want to do what’s best for our children?

      Reply

    15. Posted by elderberryjam on March 7, 2008 at 9:49 am

      I didn’t read any berating in this blog post. I did not find it condescending either.

      I did, however, find the first response both berating and condescending toward the author. “Please be open to other’s points of view,” are your words. This involves treating other points of view respectfully. “I cannot believe you are so narrow minded,” and “That is their freaking right,” are statements that are far from respectful, and could universally be labeled as berating and condescending.

      When we drop a ball, gravity makes it fall to the ground. I’m sure with some science we could make that not happen, but in our world, it does. Breastfeeding is the best food for infants. With some science, we can change this fact, but in our world, that is the way it is. There is nothing berating or condescending about that. Having a problem with the statement that breastfeeding is the best food for infants implies that the person posting has had problems breastfeeding, or regrets.

      Gwen

      Reply

    16. Posted by SS on March 7, 2008 at 12:26 pm

      For the 10th time…I feel guilty about nothing regarding breastfeeding! As i have stated multiple times, I did breastfeed my child. So obviously, I agree that breastfeeding is a good choice. I never said once that it wasn’t. But i don’t tell people who work full-time that i think they should stay home. I choose to stay home. But I would never harp on the fact that staying home with your child is the best thing for them. I understand that people have to just do what is best for their families. And I try to respect that choice. It’s the same principle.

      Janeen, I sure do hate that someone has told you that you were “sick” for breastfeeding your child. Where as I chose to stop at a certain point, it is your right to continue that until you choose to stop!!! And I am sad to hear that someone took it upon themselves to say something so hateful.

      I am going to end this with just agreeing to disagree with you all. Best of luck to everyone. You all sound like very caring and nurturing mothers!

      Reply

    17. Posted by Nasheeta on April 18, 2008 at 10:12 pm

      I just want to support other breastfeeding mothers by saying that I am still breastfeeding my 4.5 year old everyday. And by the way.. he happens to be highly gifted with a perfect score on his verbal IQ test (the national mensa coordinator assessed him), hasn’t been sick in 3 years and is a super athlete ice skater (in the gifted athlete skating program) and also attends circus school. I believe he is this amazing because breastfeeding raises a childs’ IQ by 4 points for every year they nurse. We now have this issue of finding a kindergarten for 2009-2010 that can educate such a brilliant child!! According to cultural studies and breastfeeding, only the most educated (PhD’s) in our society know enough and have the confidence to breastfeed this long. I will continue to nurse him till he weans himself, like nature intended!

      Reply

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