May 24 2024

Breastfeeding: Some recommendations

Why is it better to breastfeed your child?

It now seems quite clear that breastfeeding presents unquestionable advantages over the so-called artificial feeding through bottles. I remember that a few decades ago, we, the pediatricians, had to make great efforts and spend much time for persuading young mothers to initiate or not to abandon breastfeeding.

I believe that everyone is convinced of the benefits of breastfeeding; for reaching this level of conviction, has been required a very large professional group of doctors and nurses as well as media (and colleagues who have participated through these media) and even public authorities.

Although the consensus on this issue is very broad, it is worth remembering.

Advantages of breastfeeding

1. Human milk is the most suitable to feed the child because it contains all the elements necessary for proper nutrition and development; in the same way, the milk of any mammal contains the necessary elements for the development of their offspring.

2. The second feature is the availability: Does not need any preparation or manipulation. It is ready to be used without delay.

3. Lacks contamination by microorganisms. It does not contain bacteria and fungi and therefore is not a cause of gastroenteritis in infants.

4. It is common to find cases of allergy or intolerance to cow's milk, particularly proteins cow's milk, a disorder that babies suffer exclusively under artificial feeding.

5. For superimposable reasons, the baby breastfed suffers episodes of allergy and atopic eczema or similar disorders less frequently.

6. Milk contains antibodies to various microorganisms such as some bacteria and viruses. For this reason, the breastfed infant has a higher resistance, say natural, against the polio virus, flu, mumps, and other germs. Apparently, milk transfers a form of immunoglobulin (IgA) which protects the surface of the digestive tract against invasion by microorganisms. Therefore, infants are less susceptible to these diseases during the period it takes to acquire their own defenses to replace the borrowed defenses from their mothers.

7. Breast milk also carries defensive cells of the mother, the macrophages, which play a significant role in the establishment of the defense mechanisms of unspecific types, such as lysozyme, a natural defensive factor on the mucous membranes or the production of lactoferrin, a protein whose mission is to transport iron molecules through the intestine. Lactoferrin also acts as a control factor of certain bacteria in the body, such as E. Coli

8On the psychological level, breastfeeding is a mutually rewarding experience for both baby and mother. For that, breastfeeding strengthens physical and emotional bonds with their mother, whereas for the mother is a hardly describable experience of emotional fulfillment. Breastfeeding, although not essential, is a powerful factor of bonding between mother and child.

Possible obstacles to breastfeeding

1. Anomalies or malformations of the nipple:

Rarely, pre-birth changes have an impact on breastfeeding, especially if there are not supervening situations in a short time and you can take some corrective measures.

For example, retraction of one or both nipples can be corrected with elastic tractions repeated during the months before the birth. Similarly, the inversion of the nipple can be remedied or corrected with a breast pump. If you think you have an abnormality of the nipples, should consult with your doctor for assessing the need of correction and its therapeutic possibilities.

2. Diseases of the breast

Acute mastitis requires the temporary suspension of feeding in the sick breast, which anyway should be emptied regularly, both to reduce tension and discomfort in the breast as for avoiding that germs reach the digestive tract of the baby.

Nipple fissures are often very painful. The best treatment is prevention, keeping the breast clean and dry, avoiding to remain wet between feedings.

3. Other diseases

4. Events of sexual area

The resumption of the menstruation is not an obstacle to continuing breastfeeding.

New pregnancy also entails greater risks for the mother overload of having to meet the nutritional needs of an infant with increasingly greater demands and a new son to whom must provide nutrients. If you have adequate and targeted food and have time to recover from the fatigue caused by everyday tasks, there is no a priori objection to continuing breastfeeding.