Tag Archive for 'health benefits of breastfeeding'

Our Breast Milk is Smarter than We Thought

Just when we think we know everything healthy and nutritious and miraculous there is to know about breastfeeding and our baby’s health, we find out something new. A new study just uncovered even more amazing news about the mother’s body, it’s uncanny knowledge and ability to know our baby’s gender and produce customized milk for our baby girl or baby boy. (We already know it produced milk for the exact age of our child, be it premature or full-term, or a toddler a year or more after birth if we still nurse).

Interestingly, a common theme in humans, monkeys and other mammals is that there are a variety of differences in the quantity and type of milk that is produced for our babies depending on their gender. Baby boys tend to get richer or denser milk which has more fat and protein in it, providing them with more energy while baby girls tend to get milk that is produced in greater quantities. (Didn’t we always say baby boys were pumped full of adrenaline and our baby girls calmly nursed forever?)

Last Friday this research was shared at the Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. Although it is not clear why human mothers produce such different milk for their girl or boy babies, there is evidence that this customized milk is developed while the baby is still in utero. This does give mothers more reason to try and breastfeed our baby with our individualized formula which our body intelligently produces for our child.

“Mothers are producing different biological recipes for sons and daughters,” said Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University.

“While the food aspects of milk to some extent are replicated in formula, the immuno factors and medicine of milk are not and the hormonal signals are not,” Hende said.

As new research continues to uncover more interesting facts about mother’s breast milk, it is clear that breastfeeding is the optimal food choice for our baby. As we continue to learn more about our body’s ability to produce the ideal milk formula for our infant, we are encouraged about how this new scientific knowledge can also help other infants who are in need of specialized breast milk and who cannot get it from their mothers.

“Getting a better understanding of how milk is personalized for specific infants will also help hospitals find better matches for breast milk donated to help nourish sick and premature infants in neo natal units”, added Hinde.

It’s powerful knowledge to know that you are your baby’s best nutrition source and you are your baby’s perfect biological match, not only for giving birth but for continuing to feed, nourish and nurture your unique child.

If you are having trouble nursing, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can contact a lactation consultant or even a mother’s support group like La Leche League in your area to find the support that you need to help you nurse your baby successfully.

National Breastfeeding Week in Ghana

National Breastfeeding Week was launched in Koforidu as a part of the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana. The Theme is “Understanding the Past, Planning, the Future, Celebrating 10 years of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding; Reviving Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative In Ghana.”

Research has shown that children who were not exclusively breastfed the first six months of life had increased risk of asthma, allergy, acute respiratory infections, nutrient deficiencies, cancers, obesity, and diarrhea and reduced cognitive development.

This campaign is also aiming at educating parents in the importance of not giving a baby water for the six months since in the past babies in this culture were traditionally given all types of drinks as infants including water, cod liver oil, gripe water and other liquids which is detrimental to their development and health.

The few mothers who attempt to practice exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana often find the social support system challenging as their mothers, grandmothers and in-laws and even pharmacy shops have sabotaged their efforts by encouraging them to supplement their babies with cod liver oil and gripe water to boost their babies’ systems.

Dr Iyabode Olusanmi, the country representative of UNICEF, who performed the launching, said the reduction in the exclusive breastfeeding meant that thousands of children had a lesser chance of surviving childhood just because they were not breast-fed early and exclusively, several children were being exposed to the risk of diarrhea and other infections and malnutrition and stunting growth would continue to plague children.

She called on the GHS to focus their attention on achieving the set goals for exclusive breastfeeding in the communities to reach mothers, fathers and husbands, older women, mothers-in-law and all those who played critical roles in influencing feeding practices in young families.

The World Breastfeeding Week campaign was launched globally about 20 years ago to raise awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing infant mortality.