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Abandoned by today's woman, the oldest and most natural form of feeding a child has been replaced by a byproduct of science. According to a survey by the Ross Formula Company, only 41.3% of African-American women attempted breastfeeding while in the hospital and only 14.5% of them were still breastfeeding at six months postpartum.
More pediatricians and nutritionists agree that the "breast is best" in providing for all of an infants dietary needs. Research has shown that breastfeeding transcends infant nutrition. Its benefits also include mother/child bonding and the prevention of many early childhood illnesses.
Why Breast Milk?
Breast milk contains just the right amount of vitamins, minerals, fats, sugars, proteins and enzymes that a baby needs for optimal growth and development. Its composition changes with each baby's needs. Colostrum, a clear, yellowish substance produced during pregnancy, is the first breast milk and best food for newborns. It provides an unmatched level of immunity to disease and viral bacteria, creating a type of newborn armor that protects the baby.
Infants who receive this "pre-milk" substance are said to be less inclined to suffer from milk allergies, hypoglycemia, jaundice and constipation. If a child nurses for the first 20 minutes after birth, he will receive more immunities than he'll ever receive from any other substance in his entire life. If a child is nursed just six weeks, he will receive a superior source of nutrients not found in any formula.
Beware of doctors and nurses that suggest bottle-feeding a newborn right after birth and who discourages breast-feeding. Though many physicians will first ask the mother which she will do, there have been cases where the physicians assume that the mother will bottle feed. Not only is this irresponsible medical practice, but it violates the rights of the mother and the child.
Breastfeeding Has Many Benefits
Many mothers who breast-feed confess that their children are more healthier than their playmates and do not become sick as much as their playmates. The one thing that could increase the chances of a breast-fed child being sick is if the child is exposed constantly to other children who are sick, such as in a day care.
Breastfed babies tend to have fewer cases of Chiron's disease, ear infections, diarrhea, meningitis, tooth decay and childhood diabetes. Studies show that breast milk is important in developing the facial structure, oral make-up and brain growth of babies. In addition to the nutritional benefits of breast milk, there is an added emotional benefit as well. Eye and skin contact maintained while nursing gives babies the same sense of security felt in the womb, creating a loving transition into their new world.
Breastfeeding has important societal benefits too. Namely, breast milk is very cost-effective. One of its biggest conveniences is that it is absolutely free. Study after study has shown that if more infants were breastfed, millions of government and HMO dollars would be saved each year. Formula fed infants average $200 more a year in medical expenses than breastfed infants.
If an additional one million babies a year were fed breast milk instead of formula, the U.S. could save over a billion dollars in healthcare costs. Imagine the money saved by families whose children are breastfed. Parents spend hundreds of dollars a year buying formula, money that could be put into a college or trust fund. Breastfeeding mothers have fewer cases of being absent from work due to child related illness, which saves companies money in healthcare costs as well.
Myths About Breastfeeding
Myth 1: Breastfeeding is too painful:
While there may be some initial pain as mother and infant get used to the process of breastfeeding, after a week or two, if mother is nursing properly, there should be little if any pain resulting from breastfeeding. Often, women experience pain because the baby is not latched on properly.
Myth 2: Breastfeeding will make the baby too dependent on its mother:
Babies who breast-feed are no more dependant on their mothers than any other baby. They do, however, enjoy the added closeness and security felt only through breastfeeding. In fact, breastfed babies tend to be independent and social.
Myth 3: Breast-feeding is unclean:
Breast milk is very sanitary and is the most perfectly balanced form of nourishment for babies. Moreover, its composition changes with the nutritional needs of infants and toddlers, something that does not occur with formula. Many pediatricians agree that as long as a child is receiving calcium from some source, cow's milk is not an absolute necessity.
Myth 4: Breastfeeding is not possible for a woman with small breasts:
The size of a woman's breasts have nothing to do with her ability to produce milk. Breast milk is produced by stimulation of the nipples from infant suckling, regardless of breast size.
Myth 5: Breastfeeding is too time consuming:
Women who nurse agree that breastfeeding is much more timesaving than consuming. There are no formulas to mix, nor any bottles to sanitize, clean and heat. Breast milk is always ready, the right temperature and the perfect amount the baby needs at any given moment. Mothers don't even have to leave the bed for those nighttime feedings.
Myth 6: Breastfeeding has to stop when a woman returns to work:
Many women enjoy the continued benefits of breastfeeding after they return to work. They can purchase or rent quality breast pumps to pump their milk during the workday. Expressed breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator or cooler (and for months in a freezer) for baby while mom is working. An added benefit of continued breastfeeding upon return to the workplace is that mother and baby have a special bonding time at the beginning and especially at the end of the day.
You are encouraged to strongly consider breastfeeding because of its many benefits. Successful breastfeeding requires support from a nursing woman's family.
Kathi Barber, CLEC and Jenise Fonville-Noels, CLEC
Source from Black Woman's Health at www.blackwomenshealth.com
Reprinted - © Dec. 2018
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