Is it worth the trouble?
Does Breastfeeding Really Make a Difference?
Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC
Breastfeeding has been in the news a lot recently. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends breastfeeding babies for at least a year. Breastfed babies have higher IQ’s. Breastfed children are less likely to become obese. Women who breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer. The list goes on and on. When did this happen? Haven’t we all done just fine on those trustworthy bottles that tell us they contain the milk most like mom’s?
People are becoming overloaded with research that can be confusing. Sometimes it is helpful to think about what makes sense.
Our parents were sold on formula as the scientific way to feed a baby. Who knew what and how much the baby got if you couldn’t see it go in? A formula fed baby almost always sleeps three or four hours between feedings. Breastfeed a baby and you’re lucky if you get a two hour break. From latch on problems to nipple confusion to engorgement, the list of hurdles a new breastfeeding mother faces is daunting.
In contrast, few new parents have problems formula feeding. Grandma can show you how, and if there are any questions, the container has clear explanatory pictures. Anyone can feed the baby. Is breastfeeding really worth the trouble?
Delores Jordan thinks so. Michael Jordan was breastfed until he was three. His mom faced more obstacles than most, but she’s glad she stuck with it and today helps to promote breastfeeding.
It is not just a matter of calories or vitamins. A bottle of formula is always the same. A mother’s milk is meant for her child—it contains immunities to germs her baby is exposed to, because they are the same germs she is exposed to. As her baby grows, the composition of a mother’s milk changes to meet her baby’s changing needs. The milk of different mothers is therefore very different. How different do you think the milk of a cow is? Remember how many antibiotics and hormones are given to cows?
Human beings are mammals-- who, as you know, nurse their young. Just as the blood which nourishes the fetus, breastmilk contains live cells, hormones, enzymes, and over 200 known substances which help to complete the newborn’s development. No other mammal gives their babies milk from another species. Perhaps their instincts are better than ours.
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. When you realize the difference between mother’s milk and formula, you owe it to yourself and your baby to start out with the best by breastfeeding.