Breastfeeding - Some Facts You May Not Know

Jun 7 12:38 2008 Michael Jozefiak Print This Article

Women who breastfeed have reduced breast or ovarian cancer risk....Breastfed babies tend to have a slightly higher I.Q. than formula fed ones....Breast milk comes at just the right temperature, attractively packed, and always there when you need it....

BREAST MILK PRODUCTION STARTS.

COLOSTRUM.Immediately after birth is when your baby is making the biggest changes in his/her life; changing from placental nutrition & oxygenation to oral nutrition and breathing oxygen. It is most crucial to your baby's health to start breastfeeding as soon as possible following birth. Your baby's suckling reflexes are at their strongest for up to 5 days following birth.

The very first milk,Guest Posting slightly yellow and more concentrated than normal breast milk, is Colostrum. With a low fat and high carbohydrate content, Colostrum also contains proteins, antibodies to about 15 diseases, growth factors and the five immunoglobulins (IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, IgM) essential to developing a strong immune system. Colostrum is also mildly laxative, helping your baby to pass their first stool and getting rid of excess Bilirubin, a waste product of dead red blood cells, produced in large amounts at birth, thus helping to prevent infant jaundice. Neonatal jaundice is normally harmless and is often seen in new born babies around the 2nd day, usually only lasting until the 8th day, and generally requires no intervention from medical staff in the vast majority of cases.

MAIN MILK.Production of the main breast milk is influenced by the hormone Prolactin (also responsible for breast enlargement in the latter stage of pregnancy). The sucking action of your baby at the nipple initiates the production of Prolactin, which fills your breasts with milk ready for the forthcoming feed. Prolactin also contributes towards suppression of the ovulation cycle, though this should not be viewed as a sure-fire contraceptive.

Stimulation of the nipples also releases the hormone Oxytocin, causing the breast muscles to squeeze the milk down into the collecting chamber behind the areola, ready for your baby to suck. Oxytocin, also released during close physical contact, is said to be a 'feel good' hormone, increasing maternal behaviour and bonding and acting beneficially on other parts of the brain. Another reason to breastfeed!

Although the milk supply will dry up after a week or two following cessation of suckling, it is possible to restart your milk supply by manipulating and sucking on the nipple with a breast pump for a few days, until flow restarts. Contrary to popular belief, breast milk flow can be started in non-pregnant women by the afore-mentioned method.

BREAST MILK COMPOSITION.The composition of breast milk can vary from day to day, depending on what the mother has eaten and what she may have picked up from her environment e.g. chemicals, alcohol, viruses, cosmetics, drugs etc. If her diet is lacking in the necessary nutrition, the milk is produced from her own food stores. At the start of a feed, the initial milk or 'fore milk' is thin & watery, low in fat but high in carbohydrate. This changes to a more fattier 'hind milk' as feeding continues. Human milk is made up of around 0.8% protein, between 3% & 5% fat (definitely Gold Top!), around 7% carbohydrates and 0.2% minerals, along with digestive enzymes and hormones, the rest being water. As breastfeeding progresses over the months, the milk composition also changes, keeping step with your baby's nutritional requirements, so no need to worry if your milk is nutritious enough for your growing child.

COWS MILK.While cows milk may look similar, it certainly does not contain the same proportion or constituents as breast milk, having less Vitamin E, iron & essential fatty acids, with the result that cows milk fed infants can show signs of anemia. Cows milk also contains much more sodium, potassium & protein than mother's milk and the type of fats & proteins in it are quite difficult for babies to digest, leading to possible upset stomach, kidney and allergy problems. Babies fed on formula cows milk can also exhibit similar symptoms.

LACTOSE INTOLERANCEIt is estimated that around 70% of the world's population are lactose-intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme lactase, or it has been depleted due to a medical problem, to digest lactose>, resulting in lactose in milk products passing undigested into the colon, where it ferments causing bloating of the bowels and possibly cramps and flatulence. Lactose intolerance increases with age, which in some African and Asian countries, and with native North Americans, can be as high as 80%-90% after weaning. Milk should really only be considered a food for infant mammals, especially among societies that have little cultural history of dairy consumption.

BREAST MILK TO THE RESCUE!There is some research in the USA indicating that breast milk can initiate a cell death programme in cancer cells, known as Apoptosis, and that people with Gastro-Intestinal problems, and those who have a donated organ, can benefit from the immunologic properties of breast milk. Breast milk, especially Colostrum, has been known to reduce incidents of conjunctivitis eye infections. In a study done in Iran, with over 300 new-born babies, the half that had breast milk applied to their eyes had only a 9% incidence of conjunctivitis symptoms (very common with newborn babies), compared to 26.5% in the control group who did not. Breast milk is certainly more than just a food!

BREASTFEEDING TODAY.From the 1950s onwards, breast feeding started to become less fashionable, with probably no little help from the bottle formula manufacturers and the spreading influence of TV advertising inferring that only sophisticated mothers bottle feed their babies. However, despite the slick advertising, more and more mothers over the years, with the help of government campaigns, are realising that nothing beats mother's own milk, containing essential antibodies in the first few days to help your baby's immune system get started, with the correct balance of fats, carbohydrates, minerals and all the other essential trace elements from the mother's body. It's also free, comes attractively packaged and at just the right temperature. What more could anyone ask for?!

There will of course always be some mothers who unfortunately have problems breastfeeding, for various reasons, but expert advice and help should be available from their doctors, who can organise either changing over to an infant formula or using breast milk donated by others from milk banks. Not every mother will feel at ease breastfeeding her baby in public, but she can still ensure that her baby gets the best nutrition by expressing her own milk, storing it in the fridge, and using it to bottle feed when they are out & about in town. This also gives Dads no excuse for claiming not to have the right equipment when Junior wails for his 2 a.m. feed!

Twenty or thirty years ago breastfeeding in public was frowned upon and mothers were often made to feel that what they were doing was in some way shameful. Thankfully now, attitudes are changing, with an increasing number of baby-friendly cafes and other establishments welcoming breastfeeding mums, or if not openly advertising as such, they turn a discrete eye when Junior wants their grub. And rightly so; breastfeeding is the very best for your baby and is a loving natural event, one of the most natural acts of being a mother nurturing her young.

By Mike Jozefiak.Written from a father's point of view, whose wife, gratefully, left him asleep when Junior wanted his middle of the night feast!

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Michael Jozefiak
Michael Jozefiak

Comfortable, yet stylish and chic, maternity lingerie is essential at a time when your body shape is changing. Visit Maternitychic to see the latest range of maternity wear.

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