So I had a very baby-licious weekend. Saturday we went to the house of a friend who just had a baby, to meet her for the first time, and Sunday we met the very new baby boy of another friend! I wish I could share pictures of the adorable bundles of joy, but weeeeeel, I never ever sell my friends out to the tabloids. No matter how much insane ridiculous money people would pay for such shots! :)
I was happy to see that both of the babies are being enthusiastically breast-fed by their mothers. The topic of breastfeeding is an interesting one, as we have lots of commercial formula companies on one hand wanting to convince us formulas are just as good. But even if women want to breast feed, it may not be possible for a variety of reasons, including that the baby won’t take to it. So there should never be any judgment at all in the breastfeeding conversation, and every family has to of course do what works is right for them.
But I want to present some information on why I personally believe that breastfeeding is something that definitely should be attempted, for at least any time period. Too often we are automatically pushed one way in a decision-making process because of the lobbying or advertising of large companies, and we don’t stop to ask “Does that really ring true to me?”
Every mammal in nature nurses its young. So to me- the natural aspects of breastfeeding are the most solid proof you can get. But of course there are many studies on the subject. The CDC reports that breast-feeding has been associated with a decreased risk of many health conditions for the baby– including respiratory tract and ear infections, obesity, eczema, sudden infant death syndrome and digestive disorders. It also suggests that breastfeeding yields health benefits for women as well, including a decreased risk of diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. (Dunham, Reuters, 8/3).
What could possibly be more perfect for a baby to eat than the milk creates just for him or her (assuming the mother is eating a proper diet)? Feeding infants food they can not perfectly digest may be a major cause of allergies which can have a life-long affect. When the babies are young their digestive systems and gastrointestinal tracts are still developing, and the baby most efficiently digests the proteins, minerals and fats present in the natural breast milk.
Cow’s milk formulas prove to be especially problematic, as it contains many times more protein than natural breast milk. 85% of the protein in dairy is casein, with the other 15% percent being whey protein. The casein protein forms curds in the stomach, as it is so difficult to digest. Furthermore, the amino acid composition of human breast milk is different from cow’s milk. Human milk provides more cystine, which is a sulfur-containing amino acid. Sulfur and nitrogen retention are critical for protein assimilation. This may be a reason why the protein in human breast milk is completely usable for the baby, while only about half of the protein in cow’s milk formula can be used. From that remaining 50%, some is digested, though not all utilized, and excreted out, which may contribute to the clogging of the baby’s digestive system as well as unnecessary stress on the kidneys.
Cow’s milk lactose, or milk sugar, is a large part alpha-lactose, which can not maintain or support the friendly flora in the baby’s intestinal system that it needs to maintain peak immunity and produce B-vitamins. The good little guys- the good bacteria that is, are an absolutely critical part of health- at any and all ages!
There are vitamins such as vitamin C in cow’s milk formula, but they are largely destroyed in the pasteurization process. Breast milk has up to 20 times more vitamin E, and importantly it is present in a natural and non-synthetic form. It should be noted that vitamin E can not be absorbed if supplementary iron is taken at the same time, and many commercial baby formulas contain both.
The mother passes to her baby important antibodies through the breast milk. These protect the baby against infections and help build a healthy immunity base for the baby as he or she continues his or her exciting journey of growth and development!
Conclusion? Breastfeeding is definitely worth it if you and your family can swing it. If it’s not possible, do your best possible and remember that goat’s milk is a closer composition to human milk than cow’s milk, so goat’s milk formulas would be a better choice. And soy milk is definitely not recommended- but that’s a whole other can of worms I think I’ll open another time. :)
I’ve still got those adorable little babies on my mind! And I have a pleasant reminder of them by the slight ache in my elbows from holding them for so long. :) What a beautiful miracle!