Today in: Nutrition Through the Lifecycle (Breastfeeding)

I have heard that breast feeding is much healthier for babies than formula, but recently in class I learned exactly why.

*Warning: Nutrition is a popular topic because of the rising obesity rates but, dietetics is a health science. This post is a bit more explicit than previous posts which just talked about healthy foods, habits, and politics.

Benefits for Baby:

  • Optimal Nutrition:
    • Breast milk has the optimal nutrition content for a baby until 6 months of age. (Talk to your doctor about a Vit D supplement)
      • Natural occurrence of DHA for central nervous system development
      • Low in protein so the immature kidneys are not stressed
      • Main content is water so the baby will be completely hydrated through the milk; they will not need a glass of water.
  • Unlike formula the bioavailability in breast milk is high. Meaning while the raw quantity of a mineral may be less in breast milk when compared to formula it will absorb in the body better.
  • Stronger Immune System:
    • During the first few days of feeding breast milk the immune system from the mother will be passed to the baby. This decreases:
      • infant mortality and morbidity
      • ear infection
      • diarrhea
      • vomiting
      • respiratory problems
      • Statistics show breastfed babies have:
        • Enhanced IQ performance
        • Decreased rates of the following throughout life:
          • SIDS
          • Diabetes (type 1&2)
          • Leukemia and lymphoma
          • Food allergies
          • Asthma
          • Chronic Illness
          • Obesity
            • The baby learns to self regulate the completion of a meal rather than eating until the contents of a bottle is gone

Benefits for Mom:

  • Increased Oxytocin:
    • Oxytocin is a hormone that is necessary for letdown and ejection milk, it is vital for feeding baby. But, it also has benefits for the mother. Oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions which will get the uterus back to pre-pregnancy state. (Note: if you become pregnant while still breastfeeding another child talk to your doctor, because of uterine contraction they may recommend you stop)
    • Ovulation Delay:
      • Breast feeding will delay monthly ovulation which will decrease the chance to getting pregnant again before the body has recovered
      • Possible Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis
      • Psychosocial Benefits:
        • Newborns cannot see far from their face. By breastfeeding the mother and the child will develop a special bond.
        • If you do not choose to breast feed, or cannot for some reason, this is a good reason to always be present with the bottle. By propping the bottle and allowing the baby to alone there is an increased risk of choking and ear infection but also a decreased bond between the baby and the caretaker. (Mom, Dad, Grandma, etc)
        • Money Saving:
          • Formula is more expensive than breastfeeding so that will save money.
          • Breastfed babies also have a better immune system so they will go to the doctor about half as much as a baby given formula. This saves time, money, and stress.
          • Convenience:
            • While breastfeeding makes it harder for someone other than Mom to feed the baby it is more convenient when traveling; even just around town for errands. If you breastfeed you do not have to worry about mixing or heating formula while you are out.

Benefits for Society:

  • Less pollution:
    • As consumers if we decrease the amount of formula bought there will be smaller amounts of trash post consumption; and less amounts of air pollution from factories, shipping, etc pre-consumption.
    • Natural Control on Population Growth:
      • See: ovulation delay.
      • Lower Costs for Society:
        • With healthier babies medical costs will decrease.

*Interesting Fact: Babies that are formula fed are more likely to grow up to be picky eaters.  This is because while formula always has the same taste breast milk is always changing in taste based on the recent meals of the mother.

*If a mother abuses any drugs or alcohol, or is on prescribed medication, it is important to ask if breastfeeding is still the best option.

–Some bullets did not cascade the way I typed them, please excuse.


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