What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and one that often calls for very strong opinions either in favor or against it. The choice to do so or not is really up to the mother and the unique situation she and her baby find themselves in, but it’s always necessary to stay informed on the pros and cons. It’s a well-known fact that a lot of medical experts and institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend breastfeeding, and here we will talk about the most significant benefits breastfeeding can bring to you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and one that often calls for very strong opinions either in favor or against it. The choice to do so or not is really up to the mother and the unique situation she and her baby find themselves in, but it’s always necessary to stay informed on the pros and cons. It’s a well-known fact that a lot of medical experts and institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend breastfeeding, and here we will talk about the most significant benefits breastfeeding can bring to you and your baby.

Breastfeeding Benefits For The Baby

  • Nature’s perfect food: Breast milk is the ideal food for a baby. Think about it, breast milk is the result of years of evolution, so what could be better for your baby than nature’s choice for nutrition? It contains the ideal mix of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins, all the nutrients that a newborn needs to grow and be healthy, and this is backed up by all the benefits found on breastfed babies.
  • Statistically beneficial: Studies have shown statistics where breastfed babies have a considerably lower risk of suffering from all types of illnesses, including childhood leukemia. Some other benefits that have been found in these babies are a better brain development, a healthy weight, and of course a stronger immune system resulting in a lower risk of infection.
  • Helps the immune system: Breast milk contains all types of antibodies, creating a strong and capable immune system for the baby, fighting off infections much more quickly. The antibody that has been most linked to being passed on to the baby through breast milk is IgA (immunoglobin A), which is often found on the mucosa. A higher count of IgA has been proven to help and prevent all sorts of allergies, and lower the risk of suffering from asthma.
  • Let’s talk about colostrum: As good as regular breast milk sounds, there’s something even better that comes from the breast. Colostrum is also known as the pre-milk, and it’s a thick and yellow liquid that comes out of the breast during the first few days after the birth.

This liquid is  even more of an ideal nutrition for the baby. It’s thick consistency and yellowish colour it’s due to the high quantity of protein it has, and it also contains a lot of essential substances for the growth of the baby, such as insulin and epidermal growth factor. Feeding your baby with colostrum for as long as you can produce it helps them develop their digestive track, and gets them ready to receive the milk that comes later.

  • No bad eating habits: Apart from all the useful substances and nutrients breast milk contains, breastfeeding is also beneficial for your baby to develop healthy eating habits. When you breastfeed your baby, they will eat until they are satisfied, no more or less. Learning to eat only until they’re full from such an early stage is really helpful to prevent future eating problems.
  • A few things to take into consideration: Even though breast milk is a source of almost every nutrient your baby needs, there are still some notes that have to be clarified. When it comes to nutrients, especially vitamins, it must be clear that for the baby to get them, the mother has to have a sufficient intake. If the mother doesn’t have a balanced diet, then the baby won’t get as many benefits from the breast milk as they could.

It is also important to point out that Vitamin D supplements are often recommended by doctors, as the babies don’t get enough sunlight and mothers frequently don’t have enough intake. This results in breast milk not providing enough Vitamin D, and the baby also not producing it with the help of the sun rays. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that children receive 400 IU of Vitamin D daily.

Breastfeeding Benefits For The Mom

  • You will heal faster: Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. This hormone has many effects on the body, the two most important ones being the contraction of the uterus and the ejection of milk by the mammary glands. Therefore, oxytocin is released during labour, being responsible for the contractions, and with the stimulation of the nipples in lactating mothers, making the milk come out.
  • This means that when a mother breastfeeds, she releases more oxytocin, which makes the uterus contract, helping with the post-labour healing. So one benefit found in breastfeeding mothers is that they heal much more quickly than a mother who doesn’t.
  • It helps with PPD: Postpartum depression is a condition that affects more women than we think, but studies have found that breastfeeding could help prevent it from happening. Oxytocin doesn’t only have physical effects, but it also works psychologically.

This hormone is linked to maternal behaviour and a connection with the baby, so by releasing more oxytocin during breastfeeding, mothers show more affection and a lower amount of anxiety regarding their baby. Plus, the simple act of feeding your child yourself is known to be a great way to connect with the baby, which helps to form a more significant bond.

  • A natural contraceptive?: When women breastfeed continuously, menstruation and ovulation pauses. This is nature’s way of making sure there will be a considerable amount of time between pregnancies. A rest from your period is always a nice thing, and an extra method of contraception is useful too. But keep in mind that this isn’t a 100% safe method, and needs to be used alongside other forms of birth control.
  • Statistically beneficial for the mother too: Breastfeeding has also been linked to statistics that show many health benefits for the mother as well. For example, women who breastfed showed a lower risk of suffering from breast and ovarian cancer for reasons that haven’t been determined yet. Some other benefits are a lower risk of suffering from osteoporosis, as breastfeeding mothers absorb calcium much more, and it can also make you lose weight.
  • It’s convenient: The ultimate reason to breastfeed your child comes down to convenience. Breastfeeding saves you time and money, as it’s free and you don’t have to do much. Just a little privacy and you’re good to go.

As we said in the beginning, whether a woman chooses to breastfeed or not is entirely up to the her and the situation regarding the birth, the baby, and the health of the mother herself. We just recommend taking into consideration all the significant benefits that come with breastfeeding, for both the mother and the baby.

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Apples and orangutans

As I understand it, comparing birth in the hospital (even natural birth) to birth at home is like comparing apples to orangutans. They’re entirely different beasts. So when my mom asked if I would be OK having my midwife’s backup OB attend my birth, I told her I’d be OK, but that it’s definitely not what I want.

So what do I want? (Warning: generalizations to follow.)

I want the caregiver I’ve spent hours with throughout my pregnancy to be present for the duration of my labor. This does not happen in a hospital. I want a human monitoring me, not a machine. This does not happen in a hospital. I want to be an active participant in the birth of my child, not a bedridden, powerless, sick seeming person waiting for the doctor to “deliver” my baby. This does not always happen in a hospital. If we so choose, I want photos and videos taken of the birth, not to be told it is not allowed (because those photos and videos could be used as evidence in a lawsuit, and thereby making parents unwittingly complicit in covering up potential malpractice against their family). This does not always happen in a hospital. I don’t want my body and my baby to be on put on a timeline. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want pitocin and/or c-section to be the solution for a “slow” labor; I want to be told to get up, move around, and push my baby out. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want anyone I haven’t invited, especially strangers, to come into my space while I labor. This does not happen in a hospital. If I so choose and it’s not a game day, I want the entire University of Georgia football cheerleading squad to be in attendance. This does not happen in a hospital. During labor I want to be able to eat crackers or filet mignon, depending on my mood. This does not happen in a hospital. I want to eat them in bed, the bathtub, the backyard, or wherever else I may choose. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want my baby taken from me, not even for one minute, if he or she is healthy. This does not happen in a hospital. I want my baby to be born peacefully into dim lighting, quiet voices, and gentle hands. This does not happen in a hospital.

But this is just what I want. Others may want the exact opposite. And that’s OK. I think where complications arise, though, is when mothers want exactly what I want, but they want it in a hospital, and as the Navelgazing Midwife has said, “if you buy the hospital ticket, you go for the hospital ride.”

(While that attitude keeps my head from exploding in anger at hospital practices that go against commonsense and even research, it also grants a level of acceptability to those practices. Is it not so different from saying it’s OK for a man to beat his wife because she chooses to stay with him?)

Apples and orangutans, folks. Apples and orangutans.

The True Story of Dr Andrew Wakefield

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is the man behind the 1998 controversy saying that the MMR vaccine caused autism. The weekly produced medical journal, The Lancet supported the claim that autism and vaccines were linked, but it was later discredited. Dr. Andrew Wakefield is the doctor who gave birth to the fraudulent claim.

His “proof” encouraged parents not to vaccinate their children for the deadly diseases they prevent because of the autism claim. Many parents followed this fake news and did not vaccinate their children. As a result, we started hearing of cases of measles cropping up from this revelation of a medical travesty. Dr. Andrew Wakefield was investigated by several medical sources and his claim was found to false. The doctor was charged with medical misconduct in May 2010 and was removed from the medical register which meant he could no longer practice medicine in the UK.

The results of the investigation for the vaccine were that it does not cause autism, and getting it outweighed the risks. Lawyers that were filing suit for parents of children with autism were rejected on the premise of the fraudulent paper put forth by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. In a 2011 journal article, this hoax was called the most damaging hoax in 100 years in the UK.

After the measles outbreaks in 1992 England, British authorities showed a rise in measles in school age children. In 1994 Britain began a vigorous country-wide campaign to vaccinate every child against measles, mumps, and rubella. Every school, age child up to the age of 16 was given the vaccine. From this time on, children were vaccinated.

This “controversy” reached the United States and parents also stopped vaccinations. But in the US, if a child is not vaccinated they are denied entry to school, preschool included because of the risk of spreading the disease to others. In the wake of this fraud in the UK, many legal actions have taken place including ethics reviews. Besides the US and Britain, Italy and Japan were also affected.

Autism diagnoses increased in the 1990s and 2000s but this is due to changes in the way it is diagnosed. And advances in medical tools, used for discovering the abnormality. The outbreaks from the non-vaccinated children were in all of the affected countries and the paper by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. The panic that ensued was directly related to his false information and fear mongering.

Concerned parents do their best to protect their children from avoidable instances and they were protecting their children, albeit based on poor information, they thought since he is a doctor it has to be true. Any parent would do this, but once it was proven that the vaccine did NOT cause autism, lawsuits were filed by parents of children who had autism after receiving the shot. The suits were dismissed once the official results of the testing and discovery were finished.

This controversial and false report is still quoted today, in 2017 as a reason for not vaccinating children so to those who refuse to be educated are still perpetuating the autism claims as real.