Since Dr. Paul Gyorgy penned the statement “Human milk is for the human infant; cow’s milk is for the calf,” scientists have discovered just how very true this statement is. Scientists have discovered that no matter how much effort is put into the nutritional aspects of formula, they just can’t come up with the magic that makes formula as healthy as breast milk.
As I breast fed each and every one of my babies I could look them directly in the eye, and they in mine; a bonding experience hard to be beat. It is during birth, and during subsequent breastfeeding stages that the bonding hormone oxytocin is released, which further bonds you to your baby. I would not have given up these experiences for anything. This is a healthy emotional attachment for both the mother and the baby.
Scientists have proven that a mother that breast feeds has a lower rate of ovarian cancer and a lower rate of premenopausal breast cancer. In addition, when a mother breast feeds, the hormones that are released help her uterus contract to prepregnancy size.
When I had my babies, the nursing also suppressed my period, so for up to two years I had the advantage of not having my period, as well as benefiting from this natural form of birth control. Many women experience this cessation of menses during this time, and some do not.
Besides being so advantageous to the mother/child bonding relationship, and the beneficial affects for the mother, the greatest blessing that comes from breastfeeding is to the baby. Mother’s milk is a high-fat, cholesterol rich, antibody-laden milk. Breast fed babies have about one-fourth the risk of developing respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, and there is one-tenth the risk of being hospitalized with a bacterial infection.
The calories in breast milk seem to be at just the right proportion to help pace the growth of the baby, which prevents them from being either to thin or too fat. Human milk contains an omega 3 fatty acid , DHA, that is highly concentrated in the brain and the retina. It is also possible for a woman to enrich the milk with DHA by consuming fish a couple times a week before and after childbirth.
Researchers at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore found that a protein called mucin in breast milk inhibits the onset of diarrhea. It has also been shown that there is less intestinal and respiratory diseases in premature babies who are fed breast milk.
There are so many wonderful reasons to breastfeed, but sometimes older women forget that when we first began to breastfeed that it wasn’t always easy. It is sometimes assumed that breastfeeding comes naturally to both mother and baby, when in fact this is not the case. A mother and her baby need to learn to breastfeed, and realize that sometimes it is frustrating. Young mothers need education and support to help them begin this most important process.
When doctor’s staff, husbands and parents are supportive of the mother and her baby it is easier for the young mother to not become frustrated when the baby cries, and when nursing becomes difficult. A little emotional support and help go a long way when a young mothers breasts become cracked and sore.
A mother must at times experiment with the kinds of food that she is able to eat to keep the milk tasting as the baby prefers. I know that when I ate cabbage, my babies would not like the breast milk and it appeared that they were rejecting the breast. At that point I might have given up had I not had my own mother telling me the same thing happened to her, and that I should not eat cabbage for awhile. It was so much easier having my mother there for my first child, than it would have been had she not been there.
One of the nice things about breast feeding is that the mother can feed the baby on demand when they are hungry, rather than having to put the baby on a schedule, such as one would have to do for a formula fed baby. Feeding a baby formula on demand makes the baby’s tummy hurt as well as causes too much weight gain too fast.
It is wise to eat a well-balanced diet, as well as adding extra liquids to your diet while you are breast- feeding. A mother burns up to 500 calories a day while breast-feeding so an adequate supply of healthy nutrients and calories are of great benefit. Drinking lots of pure, fresh water will help keep the milk supply steady.
As long as the baby seems content after being fed, produces at least six wet diapers and has regular stools, a young mother doesn’t need to feel worried or anxious, but rather she can feel confident that she is doing the very best that she can for her baby.
Some of the helpful foods to consider eating while pregnant and breastfeeding are:
*Red Raspberry leaf tea
*Food high in Folic acid, and folic acid supplementation
*food high in calcium and calcium supplementation