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The Ultimate Super Food

As adults we constantly search for ‘super foods’ to make us feel healthy and to get the best performance from our bodies. Babies, though, need look no further than…Breastmilk, the ultimate super food!!

I often get asked “Is there really a difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding?”  The answer is a definite “YES” and I believe that you need to make an informed choice about how you want to feed your baby.

The properties of breastmilk cannot be replicated which makes it the ‘perfect’ and only food that a baby needs for the first 6 months of his life. A newborn baby’s body organs are immature and need time to work up to their fully functioning capacity. This is why breastmilk is low in protein as the kidney and liver can’t process high protein feeds initially.  It is also higher in whey protein rather than the casein protein of cow’s milk as it is more easily digested.  This is why a breastfed baby’s bowel motions are soft and are passed easily, while formula fed babies can suffer from constipation due to the tougher casein protein which is harder to digest.

Breastmilk has every amino acid, vitamin and mineral present requiring nothing to be added.  The composition of breastmilk is different from mother to mother which makes it incredibly unique and perfect for her baby.  Breastmilk is high in lactose which provides energy for the baby’s rapidly growing brain and CNS development.  Lactose intolerance is a condition which is becoming increasingly diagnosed among formula fed infants, but extremely rare in the breastfed baby.

Breastmilk is high in immunoglobulins which protect the newborn when it enters our world of bacteria.  Again, another interesting fact is that breastfed babies are rarely sick from gastroenteritis and are also less likely to develop type 1 diabetes.  Breastfeeding is very protective for the baby from allergens and is the preferred method of feeding for those babies who are at risk of developing atopic diseases eg. asthma and eczema.  Your body makes antibodies against infections which are passed through to your baby by breastmilk, so that even if you are sick, you are protecting your baby by breastfeeding.  These antibodies will protect your baby from upper respiratory and ear infections which are very common in babies.

As well as all the great benefits to babies, mothers who breastfeed their babies are less likely to suffer from heart disease, osteoporosis as well as breast and ovarian cancer.

The practical and financial aspects of breastfeeding are numerous.  All you need is yourself and your baby when going out, rather than having to carry bottles, formula, boiled water and a clean environment to make up the bottles for a hungry baby.

However  you decide to feed your baby, will be the right decision for you and you should be supported in this decision.  Giving birth and raising a child are 2 of the most important things you will do in your lifetime.  Most of all, your baby needs YOU and lots of love.

 

Jenni Sullivan - Lactation Consultant

(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).