Mythbusters: Lactation Edition, Part 3
Welcome to Part 3 of Mythbusters: Lactation Edition! For this segment, I interviewed my lovely friend Caitlyn, a dietician (who took time away from studying for her board exams to answer these questions. So hop on over to her blog and show her some love for being so awesome!) Caitlyn is a huge breastfeeding advocate, and the questions I asked her deal primarily with the nutritional makeup of breast milk. There are a lot of myths out there about how a mother’s diet affects her milk.
1. If I don’t eat extremely healthy, is my breast milk really any better than formula? Yes…contrary to popular belief mom’s don’t have to eat “perfectly” healthy to have good breast milk. I mean is “perfectly healthy” even possible? I digress…so yes your breastmilk would still be better than formula for a healthy baby. However, you do want to eat a variety of foods and continue to take your vitamins to ensure no nutritional deficiencies will arise in your milk and your baby. You also want to make sure to get enough calories throughout the day. During breastfeeding, you will need to consume approximately 300-500 extra calories to make up for the loss during feeding. The avoidance of alcohol is still necessary as it will pass through your bloodstream to your milk. DISCLAIMER: Babies with special needs (ie. absorption problems, genetic disorders, etc.) may be required to be on particular formulas, therefore that would be the most appropriate for their baby. This statement does not fit with everyone.
2. Is there any nutritional benefit to breastfeeding longer than six months? Yes…as your baby grows your milk changes to their changing needs. Can we say ahh maze ing?! Typically the introduction of solid foods can occur around 4-6 months, yet your baby should still be getting the majority of his/her nutrients via breastmilk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding at least until one year, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until two years. While weaning time is up to your discretion, there are still many benefits of continuing and weaning should still include breast milk as the major source of nutrition.
3. Isn’t formula just as good for your baby as breast milk? On the contrary, “Breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a range of benefits for infants’ health, growth, immunity and development.”– Healthy People 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
Breastmilk is a unique form of nutrition that cannot be replaced by other sources, including formula. While formula companies strive to create the closest form of nutrition to breast milk, it still falls short. For one thing, formula can’t continue to specifically change to your babies growing needs. It also can’t meet each of the vast and complex nutrient requirements your baby has. Many studies have also shown that:
- Breast-fed children are more resistant to infection and diseases early in life (and even as they grow) when compared to formula fed babies (ie. less need for squeezing antibacterial on every person that touches your baby!). This is because the mother’s antibodies are being passed through the milk to the child.
- Breast-fed children are less likely to develop allergies when compared to formula fed children.
- Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life, more likely to lose the baby weight quicker, and have a lower risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer.
So see…there are benefits all around (source: www.nrdc.org)
4. If I give my newborn rice cereal, will he sleep longer at night? No…in fact there may be risk involved with this. Remember the recommendation for starting solid food is around 4-6 months, so therefore anything prior to that could be dangerous. Also when you introduce solid foods, the child should be in the upright position. It could be dangerous to put food in the bottle as the baby could aspirate (inhale and choke). Babies sleeping habits will improve with maturity, not a bedtime snack. One study was performed on rice cereal and it’s aid in sleeping. No statistical correlation was found. So not only could these be dangerous, but also ineffective.
Thanks, Caitlyn for answering these questions… and GOOD LUCK on your boards! You’re gonna rock it! 🙂