Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Many expectant Moms ask themselves whether or not they should breastfeed their baby. The vast majority of medical professionals will give them a resounding yes when asked this question, at least for most mothers. For the majority of new mothers, breastfeeding is highly recommended. But it is not recommended for all mothers. Mothers who are HIV positive or who have AIDS should not breastfeed their baby because the HIV virus can be passed to the baby through breast milk. Breastfeeding is also not recommended for mothers undergoing cancer treatment; as well as mothers who have untreated Hepatitis B and mothers who have active tuberculosis that hasn’t been under treatment for at least two weeks.
I’m not sure when breastfeeding fell out of favor in the United States. Until baby formula was developed in 1867 by Henri Nestlé of the Nestle Company, breastfeeding was the only viable option for feeding babies. If a mother was unable to feed her own baby, a “wet nurse” was found to feed the baby for that mother.
The arrival of baby formula was welcome because it meant there was a more viable feeding alternative for babies whose mothers were unable to breastfeed them. But somewhere along the way breastfeeding fell out of favor and baby formula became the favored method for feeding all babies. How did it happen? Some people think it was effective marketing campaigns from baby formula manufacturers. Other people feel it was a result of more mothers entering the workforce, which made breastfeeding a baby difficult.
Thankfully, the trend today is for mothers to breastfeed their babies, even if it is only for a few months. When my first child was born nearly 25 years ago, breastfeeding was endorsed and the benefits of it were well explained to me, but there was still a lot of “disapproval” if a person dared to breastfeed in public. It seemed to be okay only if a mother breastfed somewhere private where nobody else could see her. The only way that is possible is if a mother who is breastfeeding stays home all the time and never goes out in public, which is a ridiculous thing to expect.
My mother was one of the people that was not thrilled with my decision to breastfeed. The reason she wasn’t thrilled is that she hated it when I breastfed my baby anywhere other than in my home with nobody else around. I ignored all the disapproval though, and am very happy I did. My son has not had any problems with allergies, something that has plagued me my entire life (I was not breastfed when I was a baby), and I think breastfeeding helped give him protection. Studies have shown that protection and resistance to allergies is one of the many benefits of breastfeeding.
Why should a mother breastfeed her baby? Even though experts recommend breastfeeding for a minimum of six months, (breastfeeding for one year is ideal), even a few months of breastfeeding can impart significant benefits to both the mother and the baby. First of all, it’s the perfect food for a baby because nature designed it that way. This means a baby is much less likely to have problems tolerating breast milk than tolerating baby formula.
What benefits does breastfeeding give a mother? It’s costs less than baby formula and there isn’t the bother of making and heating formula for the baby. Breastfeeding can also help a new mom shed pregnancy pounds because a Mom whose body is making breast milk burns more calories. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus return to its normal size more quickly because oxytocin is released into the bloodstream while a Mom is breastfeeding. In addition, studies have shown that Moms who breastfeed their babies have extra protection against developing cervical and breast cancer than moms who have never breastfed.
What are some of the benefits of breastfeeding for a baby? A baby is much less likely to be allergic to breast milk than allergic to baby formula. Also, colostrum, which gives a baby immunity against viruses and bacteria, is present in breast milk for several days after the baby is born. Studies have shown that breastfed babies get sick less often than formula-fed babies, contract less infections such as ear infections and get fewer viruses. This is because breast milk has antibodies in it which helps protect babies against infections, viruses, bacteria, and disease.
High quality and easier to use breast pumps make it easier for moms to pump and save breast milk for their babies when they are away from home – a great thing for moms who have to return to work but still want to provide their baby with breast milk. There are even several breast milk banks in North America that store frozen breast milk for babies whose mothers cannot make their own breast milk for their baby or cannot feed their baby the breast milk they do produce because of medications they are taking.