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Facts About Breast Feeding

Facts About Breast Feeding

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Published by: Thuganamix on Mar 10, 2009
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01/29/2013

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Facts About BreastfeedingWhy is breast-feeding important?
Breast milk
is the healthiest food for babies and offersthe most complete nutrition, such as antibodies to helpfight illness. With the exception of a daily vitamin Dsupplement, breast milk is the only source of nutritionneeded during the first 6 months of life. After 6 months,iron-fortified foods are gradually introduced as youcontinue to breast-feed. All major 
professional medical
organizations that focus on children, such as the
American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP), recommend breast-feeding for at least
the first year
of a baby’s lifeor longer if desired. Your baby receives more health benefits the longer you breast-feed. Also, your breastmilk changes to meet your baby’s nutritional needs ashe or she grows.Breast-feeding helps your body recover from thestresses of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It also lowersyour risk for developing
breast cancer
. The longer you breast-feed, the more this risk is reduced.The first few weeks of breast-feeding typically are the most difficult. You are
recoveringfrom childbirth
, adjusting to hormonal changes, and operating with little sleep. Manywomen are also mentally and emotionally exhausted. Minor problems, such as sore or cracked nipples, may seem overwhelming. However, most breast-feeding problems areeasily prevented or solved. Overcoming these challenges during these first few weeks boosts your confidence, which makes you more likely to continue breast-feeding for afull year. Most women who persevere with breast-feeding have a great sense of accomplishment and recognize the importance of providing their child with the best possible nutrition.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding offers many benefits to the baby:Breast milk provides the right balance of nutrients to help an infant grow into a strongand healthy toddler.Breastfed infants, and those who are fed expressed breast milk, have fewer deathsduring the first year and experience fewer illnesses than babies fed formula.Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect an infant against some commonchildhood illnesses and infections, such as diarrhea, middle ear infections, and certainlung infections.Some recent NICHD-supported research also suggests that breast milk contains
 
important fatty acids (building blocks) that help an infant’s brain develop. Two specificfatty acids, known as DHA and AA, may help increase infants’ cognitive skills. Manytypes of infant formulas available in the United States are fortified with DHA and AA,and all formula available for preterm infants is fortified with these fatty acids.
Breastfeeding also benefits the mother:
In response to the baby’s sucking, the mother’s body releases a hormone that makesher uterus contract and get smaller.Many mothers also get emotional benefits from breastfeeding because of the closenessof this interaction with the baby and from the satisfaction of helping to nourish their  babies.Some research suggest that mothers who breastfeed their babies have fewer episodesof post-delivery depression.There is evolving evidence to indicate that certain types of cancer (such as breast,uterus, and ovarian cancer) occur less often in mothers who have breastfed their babies.Many societies and cultures also encourage mothers to breastfeed, which can offer support to a new mother.
Breast milk 
The exact properties of breast milk are not entirely understood, but the nutrient content of mature milk is relatively stable. Its ingredients come from the mothers food supply andthe nutrients in her bloodstream at the time of feeding. If that is not enough, nutrientscome from the mothers bodily stores. Some studies estimate that a woman who breastfeeds her infant exclusively uses 500–600 more calories a day just producing milk for her offspring. The exact composition of breast milk varies from day to day, and evenhour to hour, depending on both the manner in which the baby nurses and the mother’sfood consumption and environment, so the ratio of water to fat fluctuates.Foremilk, the milk released at the beginning of a feed, is watery, low in fat and high incarbohydrates; hind milk, which is increasingly released as the feed progresses, iscreamier. There is no sharp distinction between foremilk and hind milk, the change isvery gradual. Research from Peter Hartmann’s group tells us that fat content of the milk is primarily determined by the emptiness of the breast—the less milk in the breast, thehigher the fat content. The breast can never be truly "emptied" since milk production iscontinuous.
Bonding
The hormones released during breastfeeding strengthen the mother’s nurturing feelingstowards the child. Strengthening the maternal bond is very important as up to 80% of mothers suffer from some form of postnatal depression, though most cases are very mild.The woman’s partner and other caregivers can support her in a variety of ways and thissupport is an important factor in successful breastfeeding. Teaching partners how tomanage common difficulties is associated with higher breastfeeding rates.
 
Breastfeeding can have an impact on the personal relationship between a mother’s partner and the child. While some partners may feel left out when the mother is feeding the baby,others see it as an opportunity for strengthening family bonds. Looking after a new babyand breastfeeding takes time. This can add pressure to the partner and the family, becausethe partner has to care for the mother as well as performing tasks she would otherwise do.However, as partners are often very willing to give this support, this pressure can help tostrengthen family bonds.If the mother is away, an alternative caregiver may be able to use expressed breast milk (EBM) to feed the baby. The various breast pumps available for sale and rent make it possible for working mothers to breastfeed their babies for as long as they want.However, the mother must produce and store enough milk to feed the child for the timeshe is away and this may not always be practical. Also, the other caregiver must becomfortable in handling breast milk. These two factors may prompt the mother - perhapsagainst her wishes - to switch to artificial feeding, either temporarily or permanently.
Time and place for breastfeeding
Breastfeeding at least once every two to three hours helps to keep up the milk production.For most women, a target of eight breastfeeding or pumping sessions every 24 hourskeeps their milk production high It is common for newborn babies to feed more oftenthan this: 10 to 12 breastfeeding sessions every 24 hours is common, and some may evenfeed 18 times a day. Feeding a baby on demand (sometimes referred to as "on cue"),which may mean breastfeeding many times more than the recommended minimum,feeding when the baby shows early signs of hunger, is the best way to maintain milk  production and ensure the baby’s needs for milk and comfort are being satisfied.However, it may be important to recognize whether a baby is truly hungry, as breastfeeding too frequently may mean the child receives a disproportionately highamount of foremilk, and not enough hind milk, potentially creating problems.Babies usually show they are hungry by waking up (newborns), mouthing their fists,moaning or fussing. Crying is a late indicator of hunger. When babies’ cheeks are stroked,the rooting instinct makes them move their face towards the stroking and open their mouth.Breastfeeding can make mothers thirsty, especially at first, when both mother and babyare inexperienced and when feeding sessions can last for up to an hour or more (there isno time limit for breastfeeding). Having water readily available helps mothers maintain proper hydration.
Human Milk for Human Infants
The primary benefit of breast milk is nutritional. Human milk contains just the rightamount of fatty acids, lactose, water, and amino acids for human digestion, braindevelopment, and growth.

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