Recently I was reading over one of my favorite books. It is by Karen Ranzi, Creating Healthy Children, and it is just literally filled with so much vital knowledge on how to raise healthy children naturally. It really should be on all parents or soon to be parents shelf as far as I am concerned. Anyway, one thing I am so passionate about is a mother’s nutrition while pregnant and the child’s nutrition while he/she grows. What they put into their bodies the first few years sets the tone for their health in their future. So, while this is not one of my typical articles, it does encompass an important aspect of health so I was compelled to share it with you. Please share it with anyone that may be contemplating whether or not to breast feed.
Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth. ~Pamela K. Wiggins
Choosing whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is one of the first of many important decisions you will have to make as a parent. The babies nutrition during the months in utero up through the first few years of life can greatly affect your child’s health now and as an adult. There is no better food for your baby than that produced perfectly for your child-breast milk. Here are just eight compelling reasons why, but really the list is endless.
1. Human milk is for the human baby.
Just as a cow’s milk is made perfect for a cows digestion and baby cows needs, human milk is completely and perfectly adapted for the unique needs of your baby. Human milk is easily digested, and provides all the protein, sugar and fat your baby needs to grow and be healthy. Breast milk contains vital antibodies, enzymes, living cells and hormones that cannot be replicated in formula.
2. Breastfeeding provides emotional bonding.
During breastfeeding the child is held close to their mother. One of the most comforting things for a newborn is to be held close hearing her breathing and heartbeat as they did while in the womb. Breastfeeding also stimulates the production of Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone”. It is released in the mother’s body, promoting both bonding between mother and baby, and maternal behavior. Psychological tests have even shown that breastfed babies are better adjusted.
3. Breastfeeding promotes bone-growth.
Tests have shown that breastfed babies develop 90% of expected bone growth at nine months, while babies fed formula only have 50% of their bone growth at that time.
4. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of cancer in the mother.
Women who nurse their babies are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis later in life.
5. Breast milk helps develop the babies immune system.
Newborn babies are still developing and do not have a mature immune system to protect them from infections or diseases. The mother’s breast milk provides them with the mothers Antibodies giving them immunity to disease,. In fact the antibodies made by the mother are specific to her environment, so the baby receives the protection it especially needs against any infectious agents it may encounter. The World Health Organization (WHO) advised breast-feeding for “two years and beyond” since a child’s immune system does not reach it’s full potential until around age five.
6. Breastfeeding boosts baby’s IQ.
Studies show that breastfeeding enhances cognitive development and that breastfed children have higher IQ’s and do better academically than formula fed babies.
7. Breastfeeding helps mom lose weight faster.
Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day, which can help you lose the baby weight. Nursing stimulates Oxytocin to be released causing uterus contractions that help shrink the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size, helping you get back your pre-pregnancy tummy back. Uterine contractions are also important because they slow the bleeding down after delivery, preventing hemorrhage.
8. Breastfed babies have added protection from illnesses.
Breastfed babies have lower rates of ear infections, pneumonia, stomach viruses and diarrhea, cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia, bowel diseases such as Crohn’s, asthma, allergies, eczema, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
If you have questions, need help breastfeeding La Leche League is a great resource. They are an international organization providing information and support to breastfeeding mothers.
Breast feeding is also supported by:
Ranzi, Karen. Creating Healthy Children, Ramsey, NJ: SHC Publishing, 2010.