The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Baby

Todays' article is dedicated to all those mothers who wake up several times during the night to breastfeed their babies, to those, who hardly get off the couch during the day as they are breastfeeding their baby 'on demand'. This is a story of one mother who shared her problems with me while sitting in a waiting room of our family dentist. The story of this mother, desperate what to feed her 2 months old baby reminded me of how important breastfeeding really is. Let me share it with you:

'My baby is two months old and vomits everything I feed him. I didn't want to breastfeed, so we started on a formula but he vomited around four times a day. The doctor told me to try rice milk but my son vomits even more. I called the hospital, I'm waiting for their answer. I'm desperate and I truly regret not starting breastfeeding. I should have known better as all my friends who feed their babies formula, have problems.'

Now, we all know and even WHO states very clearly, that exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. How come then, that only 11% of newborns in the US are exclusively breastfed during their first six months of life? Europe doesn't score much higher, as in 2006–2012, only an estimated 25% of infants in the WHO European Region were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. Recent data on exclusive breastfeeding from 21 countries in the Region show that, on average, 13% of infants are exclusively breastfed during the first 6 months.{1}

You might argue that formula was created to help mothers and their babies to have a fuss free life. Unfortunately, by giving our babies formula, we sacrify our babies' health and ours as well. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a can of formula? Not only low quality mass market infant formula brands, which use genetically modified products and high fructose corn syrup, but the dangerous ingredients in an organic formula as well? The packaging states ingredients like Ferrous Sulfate (produced as a byproduct of steel production), classified by the EU Index as "Harmful" and an "Irritant", Manganese Sulfate, classified by the EU Index as "Harmful" and "Dangerous for the environment", Potassium Bicarbonate: known to have potentially toxic effects on plants, Potassium Chloride: mostly used as a fertilizer, which has the potential to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including ulceration when take in supplemental form or Potassium Hydroxide, commonly known as "caustic potash," corrosive in nature. It is classified by the EU Index as "Corrosive" and "Harmful." {2} Why do we even wonder if a baby manifests gastrointestinal distress when we are feeding him chemicals?

I was born in the 70's. Back then, breastfeeding was not 'in fashion'. Being born by a caesarean, which already disturbs microbiome and not being breastfed, created a viscous cycle of gastrointestinal problems which I still have to continuously address even after so many years. Fortunately, I did my research even before giving birth and breastfed all my four kids well beyond six months.

Benefits of breast milk for mom and baby

Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for babies. It has everything your baby needs to grow, provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor. Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Research suggests that it can even lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers as well. Mothers benefit from breastfeeding as well as breastfeeding burns extra calories. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis, too.

The beginning of breastfeeding might be difficult. If you are struggling, find a good lactation consultant in your area.



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