Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some of the lesser known facts on Breastfeeding

As most of my regular readers know I am very passionate about breastfeeding. I understand that not all moms choose to do it and I understand that it's not always easy. You're entitled to your thoughts and opinions and I'm entitled to mine.

That being said, I think that there are many facts about it that even breastfeeding mothers do not know about. For example, did you know that it is recommended for healthy infants to be put directly skin-to-skin with mother after birth until the first feeding is completed? Even though I knew it was recommended to mothers to do that, I just read that is even recommended to DOCTORS not to interfere with this first feeding. (1) I don't know about other mothers' experiences but a lot of time the mother gets to hold her infant for a few seconds and then the baby is whisked away to be cleaned, weighed/measured, and given medication and other vitamins.

Another interesting fact that I learned about breastfeeding is that breastfed infants not only have higher IQ, their eyesight, speech, jaw and oral cavity development is improved. (2) There are various reasons for this and I won't go into the details but I would like to add that long-term use of sippy cups and soothers may hinder jaw, speech, and oral cavity development. (3)

I recently wrote about the Significance of Feeding and I talked a little bit about the bonding aspect of feeding. Did you know that breastfeeding releases hormones that actually make a mother feel more nurturing towards her child? It is a natural release of oxytocin and prolactin (4). Studies have also shown that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression.

World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years AND BEYOND (as long as mother and baby see fit). I have had people tell me this particular recommendation is for Third World countries where the baby is more at risk for diseases etc that the antibodies in mothers milk can help fight. This is completely FALSE. Health Canada also recommends breastfeeding for two years and beyond. Even in a First World country we can see the benefits of "full term" (2 years) or "extended" (beyond 2 years) breastfeeding. (5) Another thing to note on this topic is that many cultures still nurse for up to 4 to 6 years of age. North America is one of the few places where a large amount of babies do not breastfeed and where even "full term" breastfeeding is met with skepticism if not outright rejection.

This is probably my favorite fact of all about breastfeeding... well I shouldn't say that because there are so many wonderful facts! I'll just say that this fact is near the top of the list: Breastmilk kills cancer cells! Well there have been preliminary studies done that show it does anyway back in 1995, in Sweden. (6) I thought this was amazing when I first read about it and am shocked that research on this hasn't been expanded. Is it possible that the number one financial backer of cancer research (pharmaceutical companies) have something to do with it? Even if it is not an "absolute cure" there are still many benefits of breastmilk to a cancer patient, from an immunological and nutritive perspective. (7)

So now that I've said a few words about breastmilk and breastfeeding perhaps you can understand a little more why I am so passionate about it. I could go on for days about all the benefits to mom, baby, the rest of the family, society, the environment etc. But I'll just leave it at this. Hopefully you've learned something after reading this and perhaps it's given you something to share with people that you meet.

Some of my sources:
1. American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Australian Breastfeeding Association & Little Known Benefits
3. Problems with Sippy Cups
4. The Science of Mother Love & Of Love and Milk
5. Health Canada & A Natural Age of Weaning
6. Breastmilk Kills Cancer
7. Breastmilk as Cancer Therapy

1 comment:

  1. yeah breastfeeding!!!! I breastfed my first until he was 14 months and hope to with my second for longer than that.

    Great info! There are so many people who are misinformed and don't breastfeed because of it.