Breastfed babies are Best Fed Babies

Femina
September 8, 1993
Nutan Pandit

SO MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN, SAID AND HEARD ABOUT THE VIRTUES OF BREAST-FEEDING. YET THERE ARE MOTHERS – EDUCATED AND AWARE – WHO STILL FEEL THEIR BABY IS NOT GETTING ‘ENOUGH’ AND PUT HER ON A BOTTLE

Today stress is being laid on exclusive breastfeeding for babies. Many others do not understand why they cannot give the baby one bottle of top milk at night so that she can sleep for longer hours thereafter, giving the mother much needed rest

It is important that a mother understands why breastfeeding is important so that she can make a choice after being fully aware of the pros and cons of the breast-feeding as opposed to bottle-feeding

The importance of breast-feeding cannot be stressed enough to any one who has a history of allergy in her or her husband’s family. A newborn has leaky mucus membranes in the intestines. Foreign undigested proteins from top milk therefore leak into the baby’s system through the guts and give rise to allergies like asthma or eczema

The leaky guts of the baby can also absorb infection or other foreign matter from anything other than milk that may be offered to the baby like honey, sugar or glucose, before the milk comes in

Although the milk may take two to seven days to come in, there is a substance called colostrum present in the breast. But as this is not so abundant, its presence is not obvious to the mother. However, it is present and available to the baby on sucking and although less in quantity, each drop is as valuable as gold

Colostrum is present in the breast since the last two or three months of pregnancy. Often mild leaking of colostrum forms a black cap or dried crust at the tip of the nipple. It might come to the mother’s notice only before she gives the first feed to the baby, when the nurse might instruct her to remove it

The first feed can be given to the baby within half-an-hour of normal birth and approximately four hours after surgical birth under general anesthesia

In the first 40 minutes after birth, the homing-in reflex makes the baby crawl towards the breasts and seek the nipple for the first feed. If placed directly at the breast, the alert baby immediately begins to suckle effortlessly at the breast and gets colostrum. But if a bottle is given to the baby, it causes nipple confusion, when the baby is put to the breast later, because the mechanics of sucking at the bottle are different to sucking at the breast. The latter requires a different kind of effort from the baby, while the bottle feeds milk regardless of effort on the baby’s part

Colostrum is the best laxative for the baby and helps in the passage of the baby’s first stool which eliminates the yellowish by-products from the break-down of excessive red blood cells. If this yellowish substance remains in the baby’s body, it can give rise to physiological jaundice

Colostrum also has some cholesterol needed by the baby’s body at birth. A baby who has handled cholesterol as a new born can obviously handle it better in later years, therefore she is less prone to cholesterol related disorders in adulthood

Colostrum also gives the baby immunity or strength to fight all kinds of infections. It is high in proteins as compared to milk, so that even small amount of it enables the baby to sleep long hours without demanding a feed

As colostrum gradually turns into milk, its carbohydrate levels increase while the protein levels fall. The baby now needs more frequent feeding. The carbohydrates or lactose present in milk provides fuel to be used by the baby’s brain

Thus need based changes take place in human milk which has therefore been referred to as ‘Species Specific’. Human milk protein is different from cow’s milk protein. Breast milk has more essential fatty acids as compared to cow’s milk, which helps in the development of the baby’s brain and tissues

In the first months the baby will need breastfeeding 24 hours round the clock. Night feeding has one advantage. At night the levels of prolactin are very high. Prolactin is a hormone that is secreted in the body when the baby breastfeeds. The hormone also suppresses ovulation and provides protection against a subsequent pregnancy. For night feeds to help prevent conception, the gap between night feeds should not be more than six hours

Prolactin also resimulates the formation of breast milk. With high levels of prolactin at night a mother can express her milk in the morning, when the supply will be greater. She can leave it in a glass to be fed to the baby later in the day if she is going to be absent from home. Even preterm babies are known to happily feed directly from a ‘katori’ or glass with rounded edges. Expressed breast milk can stay without refrigeration for eight hours and with refrigeration for 24 hours

Breast-fed babies are less prone to diarrhea, respiratory illness and allergic disorders

Breast-feeding is also known to prevent diseases specially when partial breast-feeding is continued beyond six months, it is at this time that babies put all kinds of unhygienic objects in their mouths, as they start teething. If infection does occur in breastfed babies, the severity of the infection is reduced

Breast-feeding is specially important for premature babies or small babies who need the valuable protection against infection provided by colostrum and breast milk. Mothers who give birth to premature babies, produce colostrum that is different from mothers who have given birth to full term babies. For instance, colostrum in mothers who have given birth to premature babies has higher Ig A, a type of immunoglobin that protects the baby from infection. Colostrum or breast milk can be fed to a premature baby and as soon as she develops suckling reflexes, she can be put directly to the breast. The mother should move in with her to the nursery, to facilitate breast-feeding on demand, since it is particularly important to protect a premature baby from various infections that may be present in the environment

Nutan Pandit
Natural Childbirth Center

Phone:  +91-11-24601689, +91-11-24690552, +91-11-41551662, +91-9910210409

Email:  info@ncbchildbirth.com; nutan@ncbchildbirth.com

Address: C-407, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Address From November 2017: D-178, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Your body is designed to give birth . . . 
Have Faith In It

Nutan Pandit
Natural Childbirth Center

Phone:  +91-11-24601689, +91-11-24690552, +91-11-41551662, +91-9910210409

Email:  info@ncbchildbirth.com; nutan@ncbchildbirth.com

Address: C-407, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Address From November 2017: D-178, Defence Colony GF, New Delhi-110024, India

Your body is designed to give birth . . . 
Have Faith In It

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