Aug 22, 2011

Breastfeeding . Why Human milk is irreplaceable?

World Breastfeeding Week  1–7 August 2011

      World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

      Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

Introduction to Breastfeeding

          Breast milk is thought to be the best form of nutrition for neonates and infants. The properties of human milk facilitate the transition of life from in utero to ex utero. This dynamic fluid provides a diverse array of bioactive substances to the developing infant during critical periods of brain, immune, and gut development. The clinician must be familiar with how the mammary gland produces human milk and how its properties nourish and protect the breastfeeding infant.

             Clinicians play a crucial role in a mother's decision to breastfeed and can facilitate her success in lactation. Although a mother may not be aware of the evidence indicating that breast milk contributes to her baby's short-term and long-term well-being, she has developed certain attitudes and cultural beliefs about breastfeeding. The issue of bonding between mother and newborn may be a strong factor; however, stronger cultural or societal barriers may result in the decision to formula feed. Such issues must be understood for successful counseling. The mother makes her decision regarding breastfeeding prior to delivery in more than 90% of cases; therefore, her choice of infant nutrition should be discussed starting in the second trimester and continue as part of an ongoing dialogue during each obstetric visit.

          Breastfeeding or bottle feeding your newborn baby is a personal decision. If you choose to breastfeed, it will be helpful if you are in a supportive environment and have resources to assist you with questions you may have or problems that may develop. 
  • Consider attending a series of La Leche League meetings or reading La Leche League's book on breastfeeding (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) before the birth of your baby.

  • Ask other breastfeeding mothers for advice.

  • A supportive network including other like-minded mothers helps with the commitments of this style of feeding.

  • If you are undecided at birth time, consider a one-month trial. It is easy to go from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding.

  • The first month of breastfeeding is the most difficult, so if you get through that period, the rest will be easier.
Campaign Video : "Breastfeeding: First food for champions!"  

    Comparison with Formula-Feeding

    • The ideal food for human infants is human milk. Human milk contains all the right ingredients—protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water—in just the right balance. No formula can make that claim. Infant formula manufacturers attempt to artificially duplicate human milk. Formula feeding is a practice that is relatively recent—about 60 years—compared to the beginning of humankind (not to mention all other mammals) relying on breast milk.

    • Formula does not contain the disease-fighting factors or the digestive enzymes that breast milk has. The nutrients in formula are more difficult for a baby to digest and absorb than the nutrients in human milk, requiring the baby to handle excess waste. Some formulas may have a less than optimal composition by containing too much salt and/or not enough cholesterol, fats, lactose, zinc, and iron, among other nutrients.
    • Some infants fed a cow's milk-based formula may develop allergies to the proteins in the cow's milk. Infants who are allergic to cow's milk often are also allergic to "hypoallergenic" (non-allergy-causing) soy formulas.

    • During the early months, a formula-fed baby may develop signs of allergy to or intolerance of a particular formula. These signs may include the following:

      • Bouts of crying after feeding

      • Vomiting after most feedings

      • Persistent diarrhea or constipation

      • Colic with a distended tense painful abdomen after feeding

      • Generally irritable behavior

      • A red, rough sandpaper-like rash especially around the face or anus or in both places

      • Frequent colds and ear infections

      • Red itchy rash especially in the folds of the elbow and knee joints

    • These signs, or the baby's preference, may lead you through a series of different formulas, often each more expensive than the last.

    • Formula-fed infants may be exposed to a variety of environmental substances used during the preparation of the formula or carried as a minor contaminate from which breastfed infants are protected. 
    Benefits of Breastfeeding
    • With rare exceptions, breast milk is the preferred feeding for infants and confers unique benefits.

      Breastfed babies (for at least 6 months) may be at reduced risk for many acute and chronic diseases, including gastrointestinal tract infection (like diarrhea), lower respiratory tract infections (like a cold), urinary tract infections, otitis media (ear infections), and allergic reactions (like atopic dermatitis and asthma).
      The effect of breastfeeding in protecting against infection is well established. Infants who were fully breastfed for 6 months or more seem to have higher mental development when compared with infants who were never breastfed. Some studies show that the effects of breastfeeding may carry over and also protect young children and adolescents from becoming overweight.

    • Milk has biologic specificity—meaning that every species of animal who breastfeeds their babies makes a milk that is unique for the young of that species.

    • The amounts of nutrients change to match your baby's rapidly changing needs.

    • The fat content increases during a feeding so that the baby gets the right amount of fat. Human milk contains the right kinds of fats along with an enzyme (lipase) that helps digest the fat.

    • Cholesterol is high in human milk, lower in cow's milk, and very low in formulas. Cholesterol promotes brain growth and provides basic components of hormones, vitamin D, and intestinal bile.

    • Milk (cow's, formula, and human) contains two main proteins: whey and casein. Whey is easier for humans to digest and is found in higher concentrations in human milk.

    • Around 6 months of age, the baby's intestines mature and become less open to proteins that may harm the body as allergenic proteins (allergens). Giving only human milk until the intestines mature is the best way to keep potentially allergy-causing proteins out of baby's blood.

    • Human milk includes helpful proteins not naturally found in milk made by cows or companies.

    • Human milk is fresh and contains more lactose (sugar) than cow's milk. Formulas add sucrose or glucose (other types of sugars).

    • Vitamins and minerals have a higher bioavailability in human milk. In other words, the body uses most of what is in the milk. There is very little waste.

    • The germs in the baby's environment, to which the mother has been exposed, cause the mother to produce antibodies to that germ, which are passed on to the breastfeeding infant.

    • Breastfeeding relaxes mother and baby.

    • Women who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast cancer.

    • Breastfed babies tend to be healthier.

    • Breastfeeding is less expensive.
    Prepare for Breastfeeding

    • There is really no physical preparation that is necessary for breastfeeding. Education about the benefits and practice of breastfeeding is the best preparation. Contrary to some popular beliefs, it is not necessary to "toughen up" or prepare the nipples in advance for breastfeeding. Some techniques of stimulating the nipples may actually be harmful.

    • Sometimes women prepare for breastfeeding by exposing the nipples to air for a certain amount of time each day; while this has not been shown to be medically useful, it is likely not harmful either.

    • Take a breastfeeding class. Your hospital may offer breastfeeding classes as part of the childbirth class. These classes can put you in touch with a lactation specialist who may later be your personal breastfeeding consultant.

    • Join your local La Leche League or other breastfeeding support group. Call (800) LA LECHE to find your local leader.

    • Talk with supportive friends who encourage your feeding choices.

    • Learn proper positioning and latch-on techniques.
    First Feedings

    • Within a few minutes after birth, most babies can be introduced to breastfeeding. Relax. Most babies take a few licks, sucks, and pause. Sucking in frequent bursts and pauses is the usual pattern for the first few hours and sometimes even the first few days. The first milk the mother produces, colostrum, is the best food.

    • Breastfeeding also helps the uterus contract, which helps stop uterine bleeding.

    • Try to room-in with your baby. When you see your baby begin to open its eyes, look around, and put his or her fist into his or her mouth, then it is time to offer your breast.

      • Try to make the nurses understand that you wish to breastfeed and that your baby should not be given sugar water or formula without you and your health care provider being aware and consenting.

      • You may need to have the nurses actually put a sign on your baby's bed restricting bottle-feeding.

    • Try latching the baby on at the first signs of hunger. Do not wait until the baby cries, or you will teach the baby to cry to get your attention. The baby will get upset more quickly the longer you take to respond.

      Conclusion :
              Human milk, in addition to its numerous nutrients that make it an ideal food source for the growing term infant, is a bioactive fluid that evolves from colostrum to mature milk as the infant matures. This bioactive fluid contains numerous factors and live cells that, in concert, promote the growth and well-being of the breastfeeding infant. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best when he stated, "A pair of substantial mammary glands has the advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor's brain, in the art of compounding a nutritious fluid for infants." With the ever-expanding knowledge resulting from current research, commercial formula clearly cannot replicate all of the valuable properties that are inherent in human milk.

    breastfeeding/article    /EducationalMaterialsforBreastfeedingFamilies.aspx
     Age by age guide to feeding your baby
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