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Archive for March, 2010

I always knew I would breastfeed. I simply couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose not to. Why would you choose to spend time and money dealing with man-made formulas and bottles when you’ve got free milk that’s better for your baby in your own body? Plus, it helps you as the mom lose some of your baby weight faster. People were always shocked when they found out my almost-six-month-old had never had a bottle (he actually had his first bottle yesterday while I was in town for a couple of hours!). To me it was just easier to lift my shirt up and feed him then to deal with pumping and carrying around bottles and extra milk. Not to mention a can of formula and finding water and a microwave (or whatever you need for formula preparation).

So, I just don’t get the whole “choosing not to breastfeed” thing. If anyone can shine some light on that decision, please share. I know there must be some reason because our nation seems to lack breastfed infants.

I just found the following statistics on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm):

How many infants born in the United States are breastfed?

The CDC National Immunization Survey is a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, among infants born in 2005:

  • 73.9% were ever breastfed
  • 43.4% were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age
  • 22.7% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age
  • 13.6% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age
  • 33.1% were exclusively breastfed through 3 months of age

The results seem so strange to me, especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. And the World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. So, this isn’t some crazy hippie way of living, the AAP tells mothers to breastfeed up to one year! And exclusively for six months. Our society is not embracing breastfeeding and does not support and encourage young mothers with their efforts. My own brother freaked out when I breastfed my son in my own house! Why are we so scared of the idea and so prudish? I’m sure you can turn your TV on and see a boob and you wouldn’t react at all, but heaven forbid a mother feeds her baby in public.

Ok, stepping off my soapbox and providing you with someone else’s! Below I have two links. The first is a mother of four’s blog on her experience with the babywise scheduling system and her experience with breastfeeding and basic child rearing. At one point in the post, she discusses how she discovers she was starving her baby by forcing him to be on a schedule! I found it incredibly fascinating. I had heard of babywise and knew friends that followed it, but never knew much of what the system taught (I think the schedule probably works for some babies, but not all…you can see that when you read the post). I’ve never been a schedule sort of person in any part of my life, so I couldn’t imagine becoming that way with a baby. I’ve always felt that when the baby needs something, I will give it to him. I’ve never questioned my “feeding on cue” system (at Henry’s check-up’s, he’s been in the 95th and 98th percentile in height and weight), but if I had, this article would shake me back in place: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/confessions-of-failed-babywiser.html

Below is an excerpt from an article on Cue Feeding and the importance of Breast milk. I have included the link if you’d like to read more, but I’ve pasted below the sections that stood out to me. http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/breast/cuefeeding.htm

Feeding cues and delayed feeds.

A baby readying to feed displays cues even before he may awaken (Anderson, GC). At first, baby may wiggle, toss and turn, or be restless in his sleep. If his hand is near his face, he may begin to root towards it, and even attempt to suckle it or anything else near his mouth. If these early cues are ignored, the baby may begin to “squeak” and fuss lightly; and if this is also ignored, he will eventually work up to a full cry to express that he is now overdue for his needed nourishment. An experienced breastfeeding mother with baby nearby usually quickly discerns baby’s needs and puts him to breast early in this sequence of cues, avoiding the fretting and crying entirely. For the mother who is scheduling her baby and/or sleeping apart from him, however, it is much different.

A newborn who is left to cry for even a few minutes can become very disorganized and have a more difficult time latching on and suckling correctly (Anderson, GC). This has often been observed by mothers in the hospital; the nurse will rush the baby in, saying “He’s really ready to eat, he’s been crying for the last 10 minutes!,” but then as soon as mom attempts to put him to breast, he falls asleep and does not breastfeed well. As a result, he often does not take as much as he needs, and if this scenario is repeated, mother’s milk production will decrease over time. This stands in opposition to the belief that a baby who is made to wait for his feeding based on a clock is going to ‘signal the breast to produce more milk” by sucking more strongly out of his hunger. Rather, the opposite quite often occurs. Circumventing the natural cues of a baby by attempting to breastfeed earlier or by waiting past those “golden moments” simply doesn’t work well. While a good nursery nurse can “make” a baby take a bottle on a schedule by forcing the rigid nipple into his mouth to elicit a sucking reflex, it is virtually impossible for even the best lactation consultant to “make” a baby breastfeed.

Furthermore, crying has been found to be physiologically detrimental to the new infant. Large fluctuations in blood flow occur during extended crying periods, decreasing cerebral oxygenation and causing an increase in cerebral blood volume. As a result, rising blood pressure increases intracranial pressure, putting baby at risk for an intracranial hemorrhage. Meanwhile, oxygen-depleted blood flows back into the systemic circulation rather than into the lungs (Anderson, GC). Overall, crying in the newborn resembles the adult valsalva maneuver (straining with stooling) by obstructing venous return in the inferior vena cava, which temporarily reestablishes fetal circulation within the heart of the newborn.

In an attempt to prevent excessive crying and also keep baby on track, some proponents of infant schedules promote the use of pacifiers to delay feedings and/or eliminate non-nutritive sucking at breast. Such interventions are not without risk, however. Barros and Victora, et al, have documented that pacifier use is associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding, while Victora et al note that mothers who utilize pacifiers for their infants frequently exercise a higher degree of behavioral control while breastfeeding, often leading again to shorter duration of breastfeeding overall. This should be of concern to both parents and health professionals as the duration of breastfeeding in the United States currently falls well below the recommendations of the World Health Organization (Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative) and the Surgeon General.

The Immune Factor

A normal baby is born with an underdeveloped immune system that takes from two to six years to completely mature (Goldman, AS). One of the lesser-understood roles of human milk is to supplement the young child’s immune system until he fully matures. For the newborn, colostrum is densely packed with antibodies and immunoglobulins to give baby a “booster shot’ right after birth. As baby grows older, human milk continues to pass on antibodies for all those organisms to which the mother has developed her own immunity. Even more amazing, if a baby contracts an illness that mom has not been exposed to previously, he will transfer this organism through his saliva to the breast, where antibodies are manufactured on site and then sent back to baby via the milk to help him cope. Science does not come even close to duplicating this feat! Babies who are sick will often increase their nursing frequency, and researchers now believe that they do so not only for the comfort that it brings to a miserable little being, but also to increase the baby’s intake of antibodies and immune factors available through mother’s breast (Dettwyler, website). Babies seem to “know” when they have been exposed to a virus or bacteria, and know when they need to breastfeed more frequently to help them fight it off; most importantly, they sense it before parents realize that an illness is developing. There is no system in existence that is as sensitive and accurate as this one, and it is not under parental control. Mothers who wean their babies from the breast during the first and even second and third years of life often notice that their child becomes sick more than before, or for the first time; the immunological advantage of human milk does not disappear after a set period of time and also cannot be scheduled.

There you have it. Take it or leave it…but at least research it! (and don’t get all weird when a mother feeds her child around you)

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