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...breastfeeding is the recommended method of infant feedin
...breastfeeding. Pregnant women, as well as those planning
...breastfeeding women. The IOM has not set RDAs for magnes
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...breastfeeding women. Eighty new recipes and substitution
...breastfeeding women. The IOM has not set RDA values for
...breastfeeding women. The IOM has not set UL levels for i
...breastfeeding women. The IOM has not set RDAs for vitami
...breastfeeding women. The IOM has not set RDA or UL value
...breastfeeding women, as well as children up to five year
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Breastfeeding is the practice of feeding an infant milk through the mother’s breast. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), human milk is ‘a living fluid that protects babies from disease and actively contributes to the development of every system in baby’s body”’. Breastfeeding stimulates babies’ immune systems and protects against diarrhea and infection.
The mother’s body prepares for breastfeeding while she is pregnant. The fatty tissue of the breast is replaced by glandular tissue that is necessary to produce milk. When baby suckles the breast the hormone oxytocin is released. This causes the muscle cells of the breast to squeeze milk from the milk ducts to the nipple.
Throughout time millions of mothers have breastfed their babies. During ancient times mothers breastfed their babies for 12-18 months or until the mother’s menstrual cycle returned.
For thousands of years breastfeeding was the only source of nutrition for the first part of a baby’s life. Before the invention of formula few alternatives were available. If a mother could not breastfeed a wet nurse was found or the baby was fed animal milk or “pap”, a mixture of flour, rice, and water In the early 1900’s most babies in America were still breastfed, and over half of them were breastfed for one year or longer. However, as more women entered the workforce and supplemental methods of feeding were introduced, breastfeeding rates in America decreased. According to a survey from Ross Labs, by 1971 only 24.7% of
(Illustration by GGS Information Services/Thomson Gale).
Statistics developed by La Leche League International (LLLI) in 2003 revealed the percentage of women breastfeeding their infants at birth and at 2-4 months (Illustration by GGS Information Services/Thomson Gale.)
American babies were breastfed at birth, and of these babies, only 5.4% of them were still breastfed at 6 months.
In 1982, the United States experienced resurgence in breastfeeding and rates have continued to increase. The National Immunization Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2005 revealed that 72% of American babies were breastfed at birth and 39% were still breastfed at 6 months.
The developing world has experienced a decline in breastfeeding rates as well due to urbanization, social change, and the promotion of formula. Mothers who choose to feed their babies formula often encounter unsafe hygienic conditions in which to prepare the bottles, or they cannot afford to purchase the fuel needed to heat the water. Two of the major causes of infant mortality in developing countries are diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. Both are conditions that breastfeeding can protect against.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) are working together to bring about a change in the global breastfeeding culture. In 2002, they developed “The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding”, which recommends that all babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding means that breast milk is the child’s only food source of nutrition for the first 6 months of life and that no other solids or liquids such as formula or water are introduced at this time, with the exception of liquid vitamins or medicines. Despite this recommendation, only one-third of all babies in the developing world were exclusively breastfed for 6 months in 2004. The highest rates of exclusive breastfeeding were in the East Asia/Pacific region (43%) and the lowest rates were in the Western/Central Africa region (20%).
Breast milk is the perfect food for an infant. It contains all the nutrients a baby needs to grow and stay healthy:
The content of breast milk varies from feeding to feeding, at different times of day, and as the baby grows.
Benefits for Baby
There are a plethora of benefits for the breastfeeding baby, including:
Benefits for Mother
Breastfeeding women also enjoy many benefits:
The ideal diet of a breastfeeding woman is comprised of healthy and nutritious foods from the five basic food groups. The main concentration (50-55%) should be made up of carbohydrate foods such as pastas, grains, and fruits. Healthy fats such as fatty fish and avocados should be 30%, and proteins should equal 15-20% . Breastfeeding women should make sure to eat foods that contain lots of calcium, such as dairy products, broccoli, and beans, and make sure they eat plenty of iron-rich foods like lean red meat, fish and poultry.
In order to compensate for the energy they expend breastfeeding their babies, breastfeeding women should add 300-500 extra nutritious calories to their diet each day and drink extra fluids. Breastfeeding mothers should also continue to take a prenatal vitamin.
Every substance that a breastfeeding mother puts into her body has the potential to pass to her baby through her breast milk. This includes food, medicine, alcohol, and cigarettes
When breastfeeding is not an option
Although breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed an infant, sometimes it is not possible or feasible. A small percentage of women have conditions that prevent breast milk production, such as insufficient development of milk production glands, and cannot breastfeed. Women with HIV are advised against breastfeeding as the virus may be passed to their babies. Women who are newly diagnosed with infectious tuberculosis should not breastfeed unless they are on medication. Babies with galactosemia, a rare genetic disorder where the infant cannot metabolize the sugar in breast milk, cannot breastfeed.
La Leche League International The Womanly Art of BreastfeedingNew York, NY: Penguin Group, 2004.
Meek, Joan Younger, MD American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother’s Guide to BreastfeedingNew York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2005.
Sears, William, MD and Sears, Martha, RN The Baby Book: everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age twoBoston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 2003.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098. (847) 434-4000. <http://www.aap.org>.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333. (800) 311-3435. <http://www.cdc.gov/>.
La Leche League International, PO Box 4079, Schaumburg, IL 60168-4079. (800) LALECHE. <http://www.lalecheleague.org>.
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), 3 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (United States address). (212) 686-5522. <http://www.unicef.org>.
World Health Organization, Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (CAH), Avenue Appia 20, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. (+00 41 22) 791 21 11. <http://www.who.int/child-adolescent-health/index.htm>.
Jennifer L. Byrnes