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Breast Milk: Ideal Food For Your Baby

Abundant Robert K. Awolugutu 09/10/2017

A newborn has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breast feeding satisfies all three. - Grantly Dick-Read

If you are a mother, pay attention to this fact: your milk and your heart are irreplaceable gifts. In the past many believed science could replace mother’s milk with superior or artificial milk. Great efforts have been made but there is no evidence to show that artificial milk is superior in quality to maternal milk.

Isidro Aguilar and Herminia Galbes, both doctors in medicine and surgery, explain: “Maternal milk is the natural food for a baby and it is the only food which is perfectly adapted to the baby’s needs, not only from a nutritional point-of-view, but also because it contains protective components which come from the mother’s blood”.

However maternal milk can be replaced by artificial formula in some cases, for instance when the mother suffers from an infection or when her milk is contaminated as a result of drug addiction or excessive alcohol intake.

Breast milk is the best for your baby. Medical experts recommend breast-feeding exclusively for 6 months. You are playing games with the life and future of your baby if you feed him/her on synthetic products manufactured in laboratories.

Colostrum, the “pre-milk” which comes in shortly after delivery contains antibodies that can protect your baby against various infections. It is not bad as we were made to believe. It contains immunoglobulins in high quantities which support cellular immunity. It is also believed to contain prothrombin, a substance needed in blood coagulation. It can therefore prevent bleeding.

It has large amounts of protein but fewer carbohydrates and fats. The calcium in it is much lower than in maternal milk. It has high levels of phosphorus, iodine, copper and zinc. In addition, it contains vitamins which are essential for the baby’s health.

Composition of maternal milk
Maternal milk is ideal for your baby because it contains carbohydrates, fats and proteins, minerals, water and vitamins in their right proportions and naturally adapted to meet your baby’s needs.

In view of the fact that maternal milk contains all nutrients necessary for the baby’s healthy physical development, mothers are advised to eat balanced and nourishing food. This is to ensure the production of quality milk. It will also prevent her from running out of reserves which could adversely affect her health.

During the period of nursing a mother needs lots of vitamin C in her diet. It is advised that she eats a lot of vegetables, fruits such as oranges, pawpaw, lemons, water melons, mangoes, pineapples and tomatoes among others.

Maternal milk is also highly recommended because of the natural enzymes it contains. These break down nutrients into simpler forms for easy absorption.

Factors influencing milk production
There are certain factors that can influence the amount of milk produced and its quality.

It has been observed that milk secretion decreases during menstruation and pregnancy. From the fifth month into a new pregnancy, it is difficult for a woman to maintain milk production. During menstruation milk production usually decreases. However a woman should not stop nursing during these periods if her health permits. It will neither endanger her life nor the life of her baby.

The age of a mother does not seem to influence milk production. The following study affirms this:

“Girls of 14 years of age who nursed their babies as they themselves continued to grow were compared with mothers aged 40 and above. There were no notable differences in quantity or quality of milk produced”.

The length of time a newborn is nursed does not seem to affect milk production. Instances abound when mothers who nursed their babies until 3 years of age continue to produce milk.

However, milk production could decrease when the baby or child is introduced to other foods during the weaning period. When the sucking stimulation reduces, milk production also decreases.

Let’s examine a mother’s diet and medication.

Most people think a mother’s diet would be closely related to the characteristics of her milk. But as Aguilar and Galbes argue, it is not quite the case.

They explain: “If a mother eats high levels of proteins and carbohydrates, this does not produce a corresponding increase in the composition of the milk. If her diet is rich in fats, the levels of fat in the milk increase only slightly”.

They also argue that the mineral content of maternal milk cannot be increased by increasing the amount of minerals in her diet.

The mineral content of mother’s milk will decrease if the mother’s diet consistently lacks minerals.

If a mother’s diet is high in vitamins the likelihood is that there will be a corresponding increase of vitamins in her milk.

There are situations when a mother’s breast becomes full. If it is not emptied, the milk changes and loses its richness in lactose and lipids.

Some mothers erroneously believe that when they become tired, it could affect the composition or quantity of milk produced. This has not been proven to be true.

However, mammary abscesses may lower milk production.

Of equal importance is the emotional and mental state of the mother. If a mother finds herself in a state of anxiety, worry, depression, physical pain, trials and testings, this can affect milk production. Consequently a peaceful state of mind is all she needs to trigger milk secretion.

Advantages of nursing
Motherhood is God’s best gift to women. No mother should deprive her child of nursing which has obvious advantages for both.

Breast milk is the ideal food for your baby. It contains all the nutrients in their right proportions and is therefore good for the health of your baby. The components in milk protect your baby against infections and disease.

A mother who breast- feeds her child will soon experience the joy of seeing her baby thrive and grow on her breast milk alone. When a mother nurses her new born or child, it brings bonding between them. This will greatly contribute to a better emotional state for both mother and child.

The nursing period is a good opportunity for a mother to study the behavior of her baby. For instance, how does the child behave when he/she is hungry or full? What about the length of time of sleeping when your baby is full or hungry.

Breast feeding helps the mother’s uterus to return to its original volume and prevent the development of early obesity.

It has been observed that women who nurse are less likely to suffer from uterine disorders and breast cancer.

The presence of a mother is a sure guarantee that milk will be available at any time and in any place.

Breast milk saves time as it does not require preparation or sterilization.

It is cheap and the most economical way to feed a child.

Nursing has aesthetic value, as it beautifies the woman. Bodily improvement reflects in a better skin, face, hair and complexion, most probably due to increased metabolic activity during milk production.

In conclusion, nursing is far more superior to the use of artificial formula. Maternal milk is the ideal food for a child. This is because the nutrients or components of milk are perfectly in their right proportions and well adapted to the baby’s needs. Science has proven that breast-fed babies grow healthier and stronger than those fed on synthetic products. The other benefits of breast-feeding have already been discussed above. Except in very serious cases, such as sickness or milk contamination from drugs or drinks, mothers should feed their babies with breast milk.

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