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Women > Breasts > Breastfeeding And Your Baby

Breastfeeding is a feature of our human design whereby new born babies get the nutrition, immunity and nurturing required to carry them into a healthy adult life as nature intended. In the womb, mother and child co-exist in harmony, the mothers body programmed to meet a growing babies needs and the babies body programmed to digest mothers milk.

Unfortunately there can be health problems which undermine the natural breast feeding process. In many communities, cows milk was successfully used as a substitute for a mothers milk although many babies do have an adverse reaction to it, however today's supermarket or re-constituted milk has had much of it's food value removed in processing and should not be used as a breast milk substitute.

Sometimes the child of a mother who could not feed would be shared among other nursing mothers, or a wet nurse would help out. In some cultures wet nurses were slaves or as today, many are employed allowing mothers freedom to work or pursue a lifestyle choice.

The advent of food formula's do provide a valuable alternative when a mother cannot breastfeed, however a mothers breast milk is the most complete and compatible baby food as it has the optimal balance of nutrients needed for a child's growth and development. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula and breastfed babies are less likely to become obese throughout their lifetimes than those on alternate diets.

Breast milk contains antibodies that help combat diseases and protect against viruses, a breastfed child will have more protection from diseases and the common early childhood problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, eczema, ear, gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.

Breastfeeding supports a bond between baby and mother, the physical contact helps newborns feel secure, warm and comforted, and has a calming and relaxing effect on the mother.  During breastfeeding, baby’s sucking stimulates the mothers brain to manufacture chemicals that calm and produce a sense of well-being promoting maternal behaviour.

The World Health Organization along with numerous health organizations in many countries strongly support breastfeeding.

Baby and Intelligence

The link between breast-feeding and brain development has been well established in recent years, but the reasons for it remain controversial. Some researchers believe the link is based on the fact that well-educated, wealthier women breast-feed far more than poor and less educated women. Consequently, breast-fed children will be found to test better for all the reasons that wealthier children from high social classes test better on standardized tests. 

But others believe there are chemicals in breast milk that encourage brain development, and that those chemicals are now absent in formula. In particular, extensive research is under way into the effects of several Omega-3 fatty acids - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) - that are prevalent in breast milk but absent in infant formula.

Breast Milk - A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide to Internet References It is possible that a breastfed child will have a higher IQ with an increase in intelligence for each additional month the child is breastfed. Recent studies have found that breastfed infants tested more than five IQ points higher than formula fed infants. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that breastfed infants tested 5.2 IQ points higher than formula fed infants.

A comprehensive study involved 11 different studies of over 7000 children.

Anderson's group weighed and subtracted 15 factors from their study, such as maternal smoking and education, birth weight, birth order and family income.  After all these factors were removed, the researchers still found that breast-fed babies tested 3.1 IQ points higher than formula-fed babies! (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

A Perfect Food

Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly and has no monetary costs other than a feeding mother may need to eat a little more than average, and as over 600 calories a day are burned by breastfeeding,  women who don’t supplement with formula find it is easier to lose weight gained during pregnancy.

Breast Milk won an award as the ‘Cleanest Greenest Food’ as it is a food product that is healthy, locally produced and doesn’t need advertising ploys to convince children to eat it.

In some cultures breastfeeding is discouraged or even outlawed in public depriving a child of it's heritage and human rights.

Problems

The fetish ideology coming from the mostly religious moralists that defines the body as a sin oppose any baring of the flesh in public. This has caused problems for many mum's as illustrated in the right image.

We all need to fight against this bigotry and social injustice. Women should have the rights to breast feed anywhere that their child is hungry.

Further reading
Breast feeding part two
Breast health

References
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Cleanest Greenest Food

 



 

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