Monday, September 28, 2009

Breast is best...and not just in my opinion

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a firm believer in breastfeeding whenever possible. I believe it is the healthiest possible option for babies and apparently I’m not alone. As a matter of fact, at least four prominent organizations agreed wholeheartedly with me:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • American Dietetic Association (ADA)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

That’s an impressive list which makes it hard to ignore the opinion that breast is best. The American Academy of Pediatrics takes it even further by advocating the feeding of breast milk only for the first six months. Once food is introduced to the diet, they also recommend continuing to nurse until a baby’s first birthday, and beyond, if possible.

It’s obvious that breastfeeding is cheaper than formula feeding, but it’s not just about not having to buy formula. Because breastfed babies are generally healthier than formula fed babies, they require fewer doctor visits or hospitalizations. That means fewer co-pays and less money spent on prescriptions and OTC medications. Why is this?

First of all, because of the antibodies passed from mother to breastfed baby, there are fewer incidences of diarrhea (which can lead to dehydration), ear infections, and respiratory infections, as well as cases of meningitis. Studies have also shown that breast milk is especially beneficial for preemies.

Additional research indicates that breastfeeding helps guard children against a variety of conditions, including obesity, allergies, asthma, and diabetes. Many countries are including breastfeeding in their SIDS-prevention campaigns after a study in Germany showed that exclusively nursing a child for the first month cut the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in half! That’s a startling statistic.

Breast milk has long been referred to as the ‘perfect food’ for babies because of its nutrition value and the ease of digestion for infants’ immature digestive systems. The components of breast milk include lactose, whey and casein protein and fat, which contribute to fewer cases of constipation and diarrhea. It also supplies many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for the healthy development of an infant.

Of course, there’s no debating the convenience factor when mamma’s milk is already mixed, warmed up and ready! No need to prepare it or clean up afterwards! Even the middle of the night feedings are quick and easy when formula preparation is not involved. And for those of you who protest because they want their husbands to participate in the night feedings, let me tell you what my late husband used to do for me. He’d go and get the baby and bring her to me in bed where I’d remain, half-asleep sometimes, and nurse my daughter. When she was done drinking, he’d pick her up, burp her, change her diaper and put her back in her crib. What a sweetie. If you have a husband willing to formula feed in the middle of the night, he’d probably much prefer this scenario. And for those daddies who want to feed their babies themselves, there’s always a pump available to accomplish that goal.

If the health advantages, the cost factor and the convenience of breastfeeding still haven’t convinced you of its worth, perhaps knowing that breastfeeding burns calories and helps shrink the uterus will make you reconsider. In fact, there are many benefits to the moms who choose to nurse their babies. Research studies have concluded that breastfeeding is directly linked to a lower risk of developing the following conditions and diseases:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

Between the benefits to your baby and to you, there’s really no a debate here. The breast is best when it comes to your child’s, and your, health. And after witnessing my daughter’s success with breastfeeding while working full-time, I can truthfully say it’s manageable, even for you working moms.

Keeping it green and healthy,


1 comment:

  1. Great blog entry, Hana. I'm a big believer in the benefits of breastmilk and am glad that I've been able to breastfeed both of the girls.


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