Mother's Milk Best for the Baby

Breastfeeding is the natural continuation of pregnancy. Human babies are meant to receive their mothers’ milk immediately after they are born, and for about the first six months of life, mothers’ milk is all that babies need to promote normal, healthy growth and development. Breastmilk contains scores, even hundreds of factors that protect the newborn from illness and provide exactly the balance of proteins, healthy fats and sugars, and everything else the baby needs to continue the growth that began in the womb and produced the amazing little human being that he is at birth. A healthy newborn does not need anything other than his mother’s milk; in fact, anything else given to the baby will change the perfect balance in his gut (intestinal tract) and will interfere with nature’s provision of a perfect system to protect him from all of the bacteria and viruses that are present around him once he leaves the safety of the womb and comes into the world. Because of this, no formula, water or anything else should be given to the baby unless there is a medical reason for it. (AAP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.;115/2/496). Supplements of water or formula given to the breastfeeding baby also “interfere with the mother to infant biology of breastfeeding,” (A Woman’s Guide to Breastfeeding, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2002, p. 11), and will result in the mother having a lower milk supply and the baby receiving less benefit from her milk.
Although formula companies want us to believe that their products come close to breastmilk, and they spend millions of dollars advertising the “new” components that they discover and add to an increasing number of formulas available, the truth is that breastmilk can never be duplicated. Breastmilk is a living, changing fluid. Each mother’s milk contains antibodies to exactly the germs that she and her baby are exposed to in their own environment. As the baby grows, there are also changes that take place in the make-up of the milk that make it perfectly suited to the changing needs of the newborn, infant and toddler. Dr. Jack Newman, a leading expert in the breastfeeding field, states: “The differences between cow’s milk and formula are much smaller than the differences between formula and breastmilk.” (Newman, Jack, MD. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Prima Publishing Roseville, CA: 2000, p. 13.) He goes on to say: “All pregnant women and their families need to know the risks of formula feeding. It does matter. All should be encouraged to breastfeed, and all should get the best support available start breastfeeding once the baby arrives.” (Ibid.)
Why, if it is the natural way to feed a baby, does it seem so hard to breastfeed ? Why do so many mothers try and fail? Why do so many pediatricians advise moms to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula at the first sign of trouble?
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends breastfeeding without giving the baby any other foods for the first six months, and that breastfeeding continue with the gradual addition of other foods in the second half of baby’s first year. They recommend “that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.” (American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, Pediatrics Vol 100 No. 6, December, 1997, p.1037)
In spite of this strong position on the importance of breastfeeding, many nurses, doctors and other health care providers do not have the specific training needed to adequately help mothers and babies who are experiencing breastfeeding difficulty. Often breastfeeding failure happens because hospital procedures in the hours and days after the baby’s birth prevent the normal progression of lactogenesis (the process by which the mother’s milk supply is established) or a misunderstanding of the newborn’s feeding patterns leads to the early use of bottles and pacifiers in the absence of a medical need for such intervention. This causes subtle changes in the way the baby sucks, and makes some babies begin to refuse the breast and to prefer the very rapid flow of milk from the bottle. Even if a baby has had some bottles and has begun to show a preference for the bottle rather than the breast, it is not too late! Most young babies can learn to breastfeed effectively, and most mothers can establish a good milk supply with the right kind of help and support.
Board Certified Lactation Consultants have special training in helping overcome some of these breastfeeding problems. The earlier a mother gets help, the easier it should be to establish breastfeeding even if a mom and baby have a rough start and encounter problems in the beginning. Other good sources of help are La Leche League, a volunteer organization with chapters in most places in the USA and Canada, as well as in many other countries. In the USA, most local WIC offices have resources to help mothers who want to breastfeed their babies. Go to for a list of Certified Lactation Consultants in your area.
While it is ideal for mother and baby to be together so that baby can feed frequently during the day and night, many moms today face the reality of returning to the workplace within weeks of the baby’s birth. It is entirely possible to provide your milk to your baby even if you must be separated for many hours of the day. Do not let the necessity of working outside your home rob you and your baby of this priceless gift.
Look for the information about pumping if you must be away from your baby and still want to provide him/her with your milk.

Breast-feeding is the gold standard for your baby!

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