By Alluson and TnGsMom
If someone told you there was a pill you could give your baby that
contained antibodies to all specific viruses and bacteria he or she would
be exposed to throughout infancy, would you want to know more about it?
What if they told you this pill would significantly reduce your child's
risk of childhood ear infections and even childhood cancer? That it could
improve your child's vision- even make your child smarter? Not only that,
they might add, but giving your child this pill would also reduce your
own risk of breast cancer. And the cost for this pill? Absolutely free.
From "Natural Family Living" by Peggy O'Mara
Eating is so essential for the survival of a newborn babe that you’d
think that the most natural method of feeding would be hard wired into
the mother. However, while breastfeeding is a biological and instinctual
activity, it does not come naturally to us all. For many of us it takes
time, patience and lots of practice before Mama and Baby are any good
at it! Although some babies take to it like a duck to water, lots of Moms
encounter difficulty. The best thing for you if you are having problems?
An experienced Mom who has been there and done that!! I had some wonderful
women help me during those early days when things weren't going that well.
They were such a blessing and it is women like those that carry on the
wonderful art of breastfeeding. My mother did help me too but so many
women have mothers that didn't breastfeed. That is okay, find someone
who has and learn from them if you are having problems. Only a very small
percentage of women truly cannot breastfeed (0.5% or something). Virtually
all troubles can be worked out if you have the right support and information.
Like, did you know that if you are really sore from engorgement (when
your milk comes in a few days after the birth and your breasts are reaaally
full with milk) you can place cabbage leaves on your breasts and it will
really ease the discomfort. I tried it and it really worked! One friend
of mine also loved tandem nursing in those early days with a newborn as
the older nursling can help out anytime you are uncomfortable with engorged
Organizations such as La Leche League can help women feel confident in
there choice to breastfeed according to nature’s design. LLL was
founded in 1956 just when the breastfeeding rates in America were plummeting.
It reaches out to women from all walks of life, all around the world,
with information and peer support programs to help women through the ups
and downs of breastfeeding.
The American Society of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for one year,
preferably two or more. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding
for at least two years. But In our society today most babies are only
breastfed in their first year. I am really hoping that will change with
time. I enjoyed breastfeeding my children as toddlers and I am really
not bothered if others don't agree with that. I would rather do what I
know is right for my child than please strangers. The benefits of breastfeeding
do not stop suddenly at six months or a year. As long as you breastfeed
your children they are getting the goodness that no other food can offer.
The age of weaning is highly influenced by culture. In some areas as long
as a woman is nursing, she will not be involved in sexual relations, and
would therefore wean so that she may resume. Some cultures stop nursing
at the onset of another pregnancy, even though milk production continues
and it is perfectly safe to continue nursing (contrary to many myths about
miscarriage) And here in the west, weaning is often a result of the push
to raise independent, unattached children. The sight of a toddler nursing
is often frowned upon and sometimes even labeled (wrongly) as abusive.
If you were to remove all the societal and cultural influences, and merely
look at the biologically appropriate time to wean, you could compare humans
to other species, especially primates. And when looking at the six major
factors of weaning age among species (first permanent molars, the length
of gestation, quadrupling of birth weight, reaching a third of adult weight,
half the age of sexual maturity or maturation of immune system) , the
natural human weaning age would lie anywhere between 2.5 and 7 years of
Surprisingly, this actually fits with what is practiced in most cultures.
It is only in the West that children are weaned before the age of one.
Archeological evidence also supports the fact that early humans weaned
after several years of breastfeeding.
Across cultures there is great variability to the style of infant feeding.
Demand feeding is where you feed that baby when it wants. It is following
this supply and demand that can create a long and successful breastfeeding
relationship. Also the Mama would sleep with her bub which of course makes
the most sense when it comes to night feedings.
Some people choose to nurse at longer intervals but that doesn’t
actually fit with our design! It matches more with other species that
leave their young for long periods of time For instance deer and wolves
whose milk is high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. The offspring
is nursed only a few times a day, receiving huge amounts of milk each
time. The milk’s high protein and fat content makes it slow to digest,
keeping the young full for longer. This does not work for humans! Humans
are more aligned with continuous contact species. Continuous contact species
either have young that are advanced at birth and can follow their mother
at birth, or, the young is carried on the mother’s body (marsupials
and most primates).
Continuous contact species have milk that is low in protein and fat, and
high in carbohydrates. So they have to nurse more frequently for shorter
bouts of time. The composition of human milk makes it clear that human
babies are meant to nurse several times throughout the day. This also
shows why cow’s milk is so very wrong to give human babies. Cows
are designed to increase their weight by hundreds of pounds in their first
year. And they have four stomachs to digest that high protein milk!
I personally refuse to believe that human beings were meant to have such
an intimate relationship with the cow. It's funny, we will drink the milk
that was meant for a baby calf but no adult would ever think about drinking
human breast milk. (Okay there are a few Dadas that are the exception
to that!) But not many people would drink someone else's breast milk.
Yet we will drink Molly the cow's udder-milk?
But it isn’t always biology that dictates what will actually happen
within a society. Infant feeding styles can also be influenced by the
role of women within a culture. In the western world women wean very early
or sometimes don’t breastfeed at all as they are pressured to be
many things to many people. Often, not enough appreciation is shown for
their role as mothers, and as a result, this role is sometimes neglected
for other roles, which are given more respect in our day in age. Sometimes
mothers are forced back to work earlier so stop breastfeeding. If women
do strive to breastfeed and work at the same time, they often have to
follow quite regimented schedules to accommodate their work. They will
express milk so that the child can be fed breast milk by a bottle at home
by the other parent or a caregiver. While this is much better then not
breastfeeding at all, it is not conductive to a long term breastfeeding
relationship, because it lacks the demand and supply that keeps milk production
high, and it also ignores the other benefits that come from breastfeeding
aside from just the nutritional value of the milk.
And remember-- breastfeeding serves more than just a nutritional purpose.
Let’s name a few shall we? Breast milk adjusts the intestinal flora
of babies; nursing regulates the baby’s heartbeat and respiration
rate, as well as lowers his or her blood pressure. Children who are breastfed
suffer less often from allergies (for breastfeeding to effectively protect
against allergies, it should be exclusive for the first 6 months and should
continue afterwards). Children who nurse have a higher IQ. While the actual
breast milk has properties excellent for mental development, the act of
breastfeeding itself, as a mode of mother-infant interaction, also favours
A nursing child receives antibodies from its mother’s milk. Breastfed
children have lower risk of disease. There are fewer cases of gastrointestinal
illness, upper respiratory illness, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart
disease and even certain types of cancer among children who are breastfed.
The benefits continue into toddler hood. Toddlers who are breastfed between
the ages of 16-30 months have fewer incidences of illness and illness
with shorter duration.
Children are not the only ones to reap rewards from the breastfeeding
relationship! Mamas too! Such things as lactational amenorrhea, postpartum
weight loss, less postpartum anxiety and depression. Women who do not
breastfeed have a four times greater likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
If a woman were both breastfed as a child and breastfed her own child
later in life, her risk of breast cancer would be reduced by half.
Some major corporations have taken their products to underdeveloped countries
and have managed to convince women there that formula is nutritionally
superior to breast milk. This sad reflection of our times that something
that comes from an industrialized, wealthy country, must be better, is
obviously false. Nature has perfectly designed the best form of nutrition
for children. Man made “equivalents” do not match up. It is
said that the best thing for a human baby is its mother’s breast
milk. The second best thing is its mother’s expressed milk. Third
is another woman’s breast milk. And FOURTH is formula! Pushing formula
in non-industrial societies has caused higher infant mortality from disease
and infection. Unicef states that 1.5 million babies die each year from
not being breastfed. This is a serious consequence to a cultural choice!
The World Heath Organization claims “a modest increase in breastfeeding
rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five. Breastfeeding
plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment
and prevention of illness”.
Up until the 19th century, In Western cultures, 95% of babies were breastfed
and children were not weaned until between the ages of two and four on
average. Today, only half the babies in the United States are breastfed,
and even then, babies are typically weaned at around 4 months of age.
Why the huge difference? Industrialization! The first artificial formula
was created by a German chemist in 1867. It did not sell well, but soon,
large corporations such as Nestle and Borden came up with products, and,
with active advertising, and connection with the medical community, the
idea of formula began to sell. Sterilization techniques for feeding vessels
and pasteurization of cow’s milk also made the option of formula
safer then before. Even the name “formula” made people think
it was a safe alternative as the name sounds like such a mathematically
perfected product. So, sadly, by the 1940’s only 20-30% of babies
were breastfed. The return to breastfeeding occurred in the 1980’s
with the women’s movement.
Another thing that discouraged breastfeeding besides formula was total
ignorance to the breastfeeding design. Women were told such ludicrous
things as preparing your nipples by scrubbing them with steal wool while
you are pregnant. Or only breastfeed for 20 minutes and only every x amount
of hours. The thought of those poor hungry babies makes me want to cry!!
The medicalization of birth also affected the breastfeeding relationship.
Often hospitals separated mother and baby following the birth. “Breastfeeding
is initiated by instinct, pushed by the biology of milk production, and
reinforced by the actions of the baby” (Small, 1999) When babies
are taken from their mothers after birth and fed glucose and water solution,
the crucial moments for bonding after birth have been forever lost. The
baby’s sucking reflex is strongest in the minutes immediately after
birth, and to breastfeed at this time will increase the success of a breastfeeding
relationship. The cultural practice of feeding on a schedule with long
time intervals between feedings can actually affect the make up of the
milk received by the infant. When a baby nurses less frequently, the result
is milk with less fat content because the hind milk has been waiting there
in the breast for an extended period of time. The baby’s nursing
can become more aggressive because they are waiting so long between feedings,
and when are fed, are not receiving enough fat to feel full. The result
is nipple soreness from fierce nursing, which the mother assumes, will
be exacerbated with more frequent nursing. However, if the nursing sessions
were more frequent, the milk would have a higher fat content and the baby
would not be as ravenous. So women feel they have failed when all they
really need to do is follow nature.
Breastfeeding should not hurt. I have never had as much as one cracked
nipple and that is because I learned from the beginning how to do it right.
There is a technique to breastfeeding your child but it is so easy and
wonderful once you learn. Anyone who tries it and doesn't like it is probably
doing it wrong. Find out how to help yourself and keep trying! Give it
a good six weeks and you are guaranteed to love it. No mess, no sterilizing,
no getting up and you always have food handy! It is an excellent idea
to attend some La Leche League (or nursing support group) meetings while
pregnant with your first baby.
A few words about breastfeeding in public… I breastfed my kids wherever
they liked. I have breastfed in church sitting on the pew or standing,
walking through the grocery store, in elevators, in waiting rooms, in
restaurants, walking down the street, at parks, in the woods, in airplanes,
in cars, in theatres--you name it! If only more young girls would see
breastfeeding happening around them than they would be more apt to choose
to breastfeed their children. Not to mention that new Moms who are self-conscious
of breastfeeding as it is new to them would be so helped by seeing all
the Mamas out there nursing their kiddos too! I can breastfeed so discreetly
most people would really have to stare to tell what I am doing. Ahhhh…..such
a prefect system. See---God really didn't make a mistake when he put milk
into our breasts!
When One Child
He is given the best start possible, with a food that is nutritionally
complete and specifically designed for human dietary needs.
He is given dose
after dose of a disease fighting living fluid that can:
Decrease risk of respiratory disease, ear infections, gastroenteritis,
SIDS, allergies, childhood cancers, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's
Disease and many others.
Improve his response to vaccines he receives later.
Fill in the gap until his immune system matures and he is given brain
food that will increase his cognitive scores throughout his childhood.
When one child
is breastfed, he gives his mother:
Decreased risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, and anemia.
Daily doses of the "mothering hormone" prolactin, that calms
her and improves her mothering skills.
Extra time that she might otherwise be mixing formula, sterilizing bottles,
cleaning bottles, and heading to the store when the supply runs low.
A sense of empowerment that comes from providing such an unmatched beginning
for her child.
When one child
is breastfed, he gives his father:
The opportunity to learn that parenting is not just about feeding so he
finds new ways to interact with his child.
A sense of pride for his family.
When one child
is breastfed, he gives his family:
A higher spendable income.
With the savings on the purchase of formula alone, his family can buy
a major appliance every six months.
A savings on medical bills that can average $200 on the first year alone.
Fewer lost hours from work involved in caring for a sick child.
When one child
is breastfed, he gives a community:
A more productive workforce with less absenteeism caused by the need to
care for sick children.
A boost to the local economy when the money that would have gone into
formula and doctors bills is put into local goods and services.
More tax dollars to spend on something other than providing assistance
for needy families to feed their children.
The potential for a more intelligent adult who will one day be voting
and/or running the community.
Lower health care costs for both mother and baby throughout their lives
which results in savings for health insurance companies.
A role model (along with his mother) to encourage other mothers to breastfeed
When one child
is breastfed, he gives the world:
Less pollution caused by the manufacture and transport of formula.
Less waste to dispose of in the form of tin, paper and plastic needed
in the manufacture of formulas.
A lower population growth rate, as breastfeeding prevents more births
than all other forms of contraception put together.
Mother" Spring 2000