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When I found out I was pregnant with my first child the method of feeding never entered my head until around 20 odd weeks when I was asked if I would try breastfeeding.
Having come from a family of formula users, breastfeeding was very alien to me and very scary!
Once my baby was born however I had a huge urge to feed her myself and from then I have learnt a great deal about the importance of breastfeeding and what it actually does!
I was never told the real difference between formula and breast milk by any healthcare providers or my midwife.. I was just asked if I was going to breast feed or bottle feed. But then the ‘breast is best’ was rammed down my throat without any actual help or knowhow given!
So I have put together this for you to help you with your decision.
Breast milk facts:
What’s in breast milk, what does it do and where does it come from?
1. Breast milk is made at the alveoli. This milk comes after let-down and is called hindmilk. 2. Milk from the previous feeding session is stored in the Milk Pools (right under the areola). This foremilk has less fat because the fat has had time to stick to the sides of the cells.
During each feeding session, the milk that comes out of the breast first is called foremilk and it is quite watery. Milk coming out later is called hindmilk and it is creamier and may have 50% more fat.
Your breasts make one kind of milk but, its composition will depend on how long the milk has been sitting in your breasts. This is because fat sticks to cell membranes. So breast milk that is left-over from the previous feeding will be more watery because the fats have stuck to the cell membranes. Freshly made milk that comes after let-down will have the full complement of fats because the fat has not had time to stick to the cell membranes yet.
Some people suggest that one of the jobs of foremilk is to quench Baby's thirst. The job of the high-fat hindmilk is to fill Baby up and signal to him to stop sucking. It has even been suggested that the high-fat hindmilk is like a rich creamy dessert at the end of a meal. Suffice to say that the composition of breast milk changes during one feeding session.
Rich in brain-building omega 3's, namely DHA and AA.
Automatically adjusts to infant's needs; levels decline as baby gets older
Rich in cholesterol
Nearly completely absorbed
Contains fat-digesting enzyme, lipase
Not completely absorbed
Fat is the most important nutrient in breastmilk; absence of cholesterol and DHA, vital nutrients for growing brains and bodies, may predispose child to adult heart and central nervous system diseases. Leftover unabsorbed fat accounts for unpleasant stools in formula-fed babies.
Soft, easily-digestible whey
More completely absorbed
Lactoferrin for intestinal health
Lysozyme, an antimicrobial
Rich in brain and body-building protein components
Rich in growth factors
Contains sleep-inducing proteins
Harder to digest casein curds
Less completely absorbed, more waste, harder on kidneys
None or trace lactoferrin
Deficient or lower in some
Deficient in growth factors
Automatically adjusts to infant's needs. (e.g., higher in premature infant)
Rich in lactose
Rich in oligosaccharides that promote intestinal health
Some formulas contain no lactose.
Deficient in oligosaccaharides
Lactose is considered an important carbohydrate for brain development. Studies show the level of lactose in the milk of a species correlates with the size of the brain of that species.
Rich in living white blood cells, millions per feeding
Rich in immunoglobulins
No live white blood cells.
Processing kills all cells. Dead food has less immunological benefit.
Few immunoglubulins and mostly the wrong kind.
When mother is exposed to a germ, she makes antibodies to that germ and gives these antibodies to her infant via her milk.
Vitamins and minerals
Better absorbed, especially iron, zinc, and calcium.
Iron is 50-75% absorbed
Contains more selenium (an antioxidant) than formula
Iron 5-10 percent absorbed
Vitamins and minerals in breastmilk enjoy a higher bioavailability; a greater percentage is absorbed. To compensate, more is added to formula, which makes it harder to digest.
Enzymes and Hormones
Rich in digestive enzymes, such as lipase and amylase.
Rich in many hormones: thyroid, prolactin, oxytocin, and over fifteen others.
Processing kills digestive enzymes
Processing kills hormones, which are not human, anyway
Digestive enzymes promote intestinal health. Hormones contribute to the overall biochemical balance and well-being of baby.
Varies with mother's diet
Always tastes the same
By taking on the flavor of mother's diet, breastmilk shapes the tastes of the child to family foods.
$600 a year, extra food for mother
Around $1,200 per year for formula; up to $2,500 a year for hypoallergenic formulas; plus cost of bottles, etc.; plus lost income when baby is ill
>Breastfeeding families save $600 to $2,000 a year, and often much more in medical bills since baby stays healthier; and employed breastfeeding mothers miss less work.
Although some formula companies add DHA and ARA to their formula it isn’t the same as what is naturally made in the mother’s body.
“While many scientists doubt the benefits of manufactured DHA and ARA oils, little doubt exists that at least a subset of the infant population experiences severe side effects, including watery, explosive diarrhea, severe vomiting, and gastrointestinal distress serious complications in this vulnerable population. Manufactured DHA and ARA fatty acids are structurally different from those found naturally in breast milk. This structural difference may be one of many possible reasons why some infants experience such severe side effects”
I strongly suggest that you do your own research on the DHA and ARA added to formula.
Back to breast milk!
Now when your newborn has arrived you have a wonderful substance called colostrum:-
From LLL http://www.llli.org/FAQ/colostrum.html
“Colostrum actually works as a natural and 100% safe vaccine. It contains large quantities of an antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) which is a new substance to the newborn. Before your baby was born, he received the benefit of another antibody, called IgG, through your placenta. IgG worked through the baby's circulatory system, but IgA protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines.
Colostrum has an especially important role to play in the baby's gastrointestinal tract. A newborn's intestines are very permeable. Colostrum seals the holes by "painting" the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier which mostly prevents foreign substances from penetrating and possibly sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten.
Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
The colostrum gradually changes to mature milk during the first two weeks after birth. During this transition, the concentrations of the antibodies in your milk decrease, but your milk volume greatly increases. The disease-fighting properties of human milk do not disappear with the colostrum. In fact, as long as your baby receives your milk, he will receive immunological protection against many different viruses and bacteria.
Wow that’s absolutely amazing!
Something that has come out of YOUR body has given your baby all of that wonderful stuff!
Also when your baby is born the digestive tract is sterile and breast milk keeps it that way.
It’s pretty amazing how our body not only looks after our baby when growing inside us but our body carries on this when they are born.
This helps to set up your child for the rest of his/her life in how they fight disease and viruses.
So with all this in mind you can see why breast milk is so important for babies to have.
The facts about formula
Formula milk was invented in 1867 by a chemist called Justus Von Liebig, who developed the first commercial formula, Liebig's Soluable Food For Babies.
Prior to this time, mothers who could not breast feed or rich mothers who chose not to, would have employed a wet nurse (another lactating woman) to breast feed their baby. This practice is now called cross-breast feeding or cross-nursing.
Then Henri Nestlé created his own formula treating malnourished babies.
COMPARING FORMULA CONTENTS
FAT SOURCE(Find out if hydrogenated)
Milk Based Formula
Nonfat milk, whey protein concentrate: 60% whey, 40% casein
Palm oil, high oleic (safflower or sunflower) Oil, Coconut Oil, Soybean Oil
Soy Based Formula
Soy protein Isolate
Palm oil, high oleic (safflower or sunflower) oil, coconut oil, soybean oil
Corn Syrup Solids and Sucrose
All brands of formula are near enough the same in composition with a variety of ‘added’ things. No brand is ‘closer’ to breast milk, there is just no way they could match a living substance that continually changes to match the individual babies needs, it’s impossible.
The things to remember are that it is just a ‘replacement’ for breast milk if you are unable to or really cannot do it, your child wouldn’t starve and will continue to grow, but it certainly will not give your child the right balance that your body could give.
Also formula is not sterile, you need to sterilise bottles and prepare formula safely.
Many women choose to formula feed and find it works for them and their family.
But unfortunately for the women who choose to breastfeed and then can’t due to inadequate support or they fall in the 1% who physically can’t go through a huge amount of upset.
It is important that you research as much as you can about breastfeeding and formula feeding, the information I am providing is slightly biased but this is because I know how important breast milk is and how much of an importance it has had in my children’s lives.
Look for local support before having your baby, join forums and groups and take in as much as you possibly can before your baby comes.
Once who have gained support you can use that and your knowledge when your baby has arrived, this will help a lot.
Breastfeeding is hard and due to the sexualisation of breasts it’s not as sociably acceptable as bottle feeding and its likely that your peers wouldn’t have breastfed because of how formula became the main way to feed a baby in the previous generations due to inaccurate claims about formula being better than breast milk.
We can only do what we think is right as parents, formula is very appealing to many families because of how ‘easy’ it is to bottle feed and how a baby supposedly sleep longer, or how the father can do the night feeds while mum gets a break and I think the sharing aspect is the most appealing thing about using formula.
But you can share responsibilities while breastfeeding, he can sort nappies and taking the little one away for Daddy time while you have a nap and if you both work together with your baby and learn the art of breastfeeding it is one of the most fulfilling experiences a mother will accomplish.
As my children have got older the bond they have with both me and their Daddy is just magic, he is the fun one they play with and they turn to me for comfort and security just as they did when I fed them at the breast (well still currently feeding a 19 month old J ) You can be equal even when breastfeeding and a bond can be built with both parents.
Here is some great links about finding support
Breastfed Lottie for nearly two years and Livi for 13 months.
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