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Breastfeeding Saves Lives

You may have heard that breastfeeding saves lives but wondered: How can this be? We all know mothers who don’t breastfeed, and would we say that their children are at risk of death. Of course not, their babies thrive on formula. So, are babies’ lives at risk when they are bottle fed rather than breastfed? You better believe it!

Some children who are bottle fed suffer a reaction to the formula they are given. This is mainly due to an allergic reaction to cows’ milk, which is what nearly all formula sold is based on. If a child is allergic then the solution is usually to transfer them to soy based formula or another specialist formula. The allergy is hardly ever life threatening and the switch to another type of formula usually fixes the problem. It is also worth noting that some babies are allergic to their own mother’s breast milk.

So exactly who is at risk from feeding babies formula milk rather than breast milk. The answer, as always, is the poor and vulnerable. And exactly how are they putting their children’s lives at risk? The answer doesn’t lie in the formula itself, but rather the water used in the preparation of powdered formula. We, in the industrialized West, take clean water for granted; for the desperately poor who live in the developing world, this is not so.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. This figure has been stated in this and other forms by WHO and UNICEF many times over the years. The main reason being the lack of clean safe drinking water.

There are also other factors that contribute to child mortality and ill-health. Some studies are now linking the feeding of milk formula to conditions such as obesity in later life, premature sexual development and tooth decay.

Why is that these mothers put their child’s life at risk? The answer is simple: commercial pressure. They, like us, are subjected to intense marketing campaigns from the world’s leading multi-nationals. They are lead to believe that formula, rather than breast, is best. They believe that as it is so popular in the West, it must provide their child with the best start in life. The advertising campaigns show happy, pink-cheeked babies smiling that are healthy when being fed with formula.

Don’t misunderstand: there is nothing wrong with formula milk when prepared and fed correctly. However, it is a food-stuff invented in the industrialized West for use in the West. Formula milk came to prominence after the Second-World-War just at the same time that our drinking water was made safe to drink. But this Western product is not suitable to those parts of the world where safe drinking is not available. Can you imagine the outcry if milk formula had been wide spread in the days before our drinking water was safe and millions of babies died each year from being fed formula?

So, as a mother, what can you do to prevent this?

Firstly, by breastfeeding your own child and by encouraging other pregnant women to follow suit. Abstaining from milk formula will send a message to the manufacturers. However, you can go one step further: write or email the manufacturers and let them know that you think it is wrong to ‘dump’ milk formula on the poorer people of our planet. The women of the developing world don’t have the tools to hand to change things, you do!

It is time for the mothers of this world to stand together and preach the message that breast is best.

Robin O’Brien is founder of the website breast-feeding-information.com which is devoted to the benefits of breastfeeding

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Natural substance in breast milk destroys cancer cells

Breast milk is documented to be the best food possible for infants and breastfeeding is known to have enormous health benefits for moms, too. It turns out, however, that breast milk has even more amazing properties. Swedish researchers have found that it contains a compound that kills cancer cells in humans.

The substance, dubbed HAMLET (which stands for Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumor cells), is comprised of a protein and a fatty acid. Although found naturally in breast milk, scientists are not sure if HAMLET develops spontaneously or if it requires interaction with the acidic digestive system of a newborn.

HAMLET was first discovered by chance several years ago by researchers who were investigating the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Scientists soon began testing it on cancer cells and the findings were nothing short of astounding.

For example, studies in the lab showed that HAMLET was able to kill 40 different types of cancer cells. What’s more, in animal studies the natural substance was found to be effective in killing one of the most deadly types of brain cancers — glioblastoma.

However, HAMLET was only recently tested for the first time on humans. Scientists at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden tried HAMLET on patients suffering from cancer of the bladder. The result? After treatment with the breast milk-derived therapy, the cancer patients excreted dead cancer cells in their urine.

The Swedish research team is working to see if the compound can be eventually developed into a viable cancer therapy. Next on their agenda: tests to see if HAMLET can treat skin cancer, a variety of brain tumors and tumors in the mucous membranes.

So what exactly does HAMLET do that makes it such a potent cancer fighter? In a paper recently published in the science journal PLoS One, scientists Roger Karlsson, Maja Puchades and Ingela Lanekoff of the University of Gothenburg discussed research showing how the substance appears to interact with cell membranes. Using a fluorescent red tracking substance to show the exact location of HAMLET, the researchers clearly demonstrated that the compound binds to the membranes of tumor cells, killing them. However, HAMLET does no harm whatsoever to surrounding healthy cells.

For more information:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_relea…
http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/c…
http://www.naturalnews.com/breast_m…

Item Courtesy of Natural News

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Breastfeeding and Milk Supply

Why do some mothers seem to be overflowing with milk and others barely keep up with their babies? The answer to that questions remains a mystery. We do know, however, which practices enhance milk production and what may decrease milk supply.

Newborns need to eat frequently. All that early suckling before your milk “comes in” helps set the tone for later milk production. Think of as your baby placing an order to be filled at a later date. On the other hand, restricting breastfeeding in the first few days may lead to decreased milk production overall. 

You’ve probably heard that milk production is based on supply and demand. That means that the more milk that is removed from your breasts, the more milk you will produce. If more milk is consistently removed from your right breast, your right breast will consistently make more milk than your left. If baby regularly sleeps from 10pm to 4 am, but breastfeeds every 2 hours during the day, you will eventually have less milk in the middle of the night than during the day. 

How do your breasts know that your baby is growing and needs more milk? Very simply; the baby asks for it! Your baby will breastfeed more frequently when he needs more milk. After a few days of what may seem to be constant eating, your breasts catch up and all is well. When your baby gets older and doesn’t need to breastfeed as often, your milk supply will naturally decrease. 

So let your baby be your guide and your milk supply will take care of itself! 

See also: “How do I Increase my Milk Supply?“ 

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com

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Why I Chose To Breastfeed | essence.com

An honest commentary on a mother’s decision to breastfeed, and how she believes it’s saving her baby’s life.

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Breastfeeding Problems Solved

Almost half of breastfeeding moms quit before their baby is 6 months old and often it’s because they’ve run into problems that are actually pretty easily solved. If you’re thinking of stopping, read on for quick solutions to common problems…

My baby is due and I want to breastfeed but I have very small nipples that don’t stick out like normal ones. Will this make it difficult?

Many women have nipples that are ‘inverted’ but this shouldn’t prevent your baby from nursing because it’s not actually your nipple she suckles on – it’s the areola (the darker area immediately surrounding it). The most important thing is to make sure your baby is properly latched on – you’ll probably feed him for the first time within 30 minutes of the delivery and there will be lactation consultants of nurses close by to help you. Some women find that breast shells can encourage inverted nipples to protrude more – a lactation consultant can advise you.

My baby is just over a week old and my nipples are really suffering – they’re cracked and bleeding and nursing is painful. Should I give up and switch her to the bottle?

It’s not unusual to feel some discomfort when you first start breastfeeding but you shouldn’t still be getting it a week on and certainly not to the extent you describe. Most cases of sore and cracked nipples are caused by incorrect latching on. If your physician isn’t qualified to check your technique it’s worth contacting a lactation consultant who can visit you at home – if it solves the problem it’s money well-spent. Other reasons your nipples may be sore include overdrying or excessive moisture; it’s also possible that your baby has passed on a yeast infection if she has one in her mouth (if your physician thinks this is the problem she can prescribe an anti-fungal medication).

Once you’ve perfected your latching-on technique, keep feeding but nurse your baby on the least sore side first so that when you transfer her to the other breast she’ll be less hungry and will suckle less vigorously. If your nipples become so sore you can’t bear to nurse, gently express milk by hand.

My breasts are constantly leaking milk! I wake up with my T-shirt and sheets soaked and go through several boxes of nursing pads a week. Every time I go to latch on my baby she gets a face full of milk! Is this normal?

When your breast milk comes in, around four days after your baby’s birth, it’s common to have an overabundant supply and for your let-down reflex to be so powerful that milk sprays out when you start to nurse. It can cause problems, with your breasts becoming engorged (literally too full), and your baby finding it hard to latch on because the skin on your breasts is stretched so tight there’s no ‘give’. If this happens you may have to express a little milk before feeds, to help her grab hold! Thankfully this oversupply will diminish by the time your baby is around 6-8 weeks old – breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis, and as soon as  your body becomes accustomed to your baby’s needs your milk supply will balance out.

I’ve discovered a hard, tender patch on one of my breasts near my armpit – is it anything to do with nursing my baby?

This sounds like a blocked milk duct – these are pretty common near the armpits because milk glands are concentrated in those areas. Ducts can become blocked if you leave it too long between feeds or don’t feed for long enough, and women who tend to produce a lot of milk are more likely to get them.

There is a risk that a blocked duct can develop into mastitis but the solution is simple: feed your baby as often as you can and offer her the affected side first – the hungrier she is the more vigorous her sucking, and this alone may help dislodge the blockage. Positioning her so her chin points towards the blockage will also help, so latch her on in the underarm position with her body lying on a pillow placed at your side, and gently massage the tender area as she feeds. If she doesn’t feed for very long, hand express to fully drain the milk and mention the problem to your lactation consultant. If these measures don’t clear the lump, have your physician check it as a precaution.

My physician wants to put me on anti-depressants to help me cope with post-partum depression. Could the medication harm my baby if I continue to breastfeed?

Many new moms suffer from depression after the birth but rest assured that there are a number of anti-depressants that have no adverse effect on a nursing baby. As a precaution, and to set your mind at rest, inform your physician that you’re breastfeeding and ask him to prescribe a drug that is known to be safe. Let your baby’s pediatrician know you’re taking it, and watch out for any possible side-effects, which could include your baby seeming excessively drowsy or difficult to settle, or colicky. Keep in mind that your baby’s health and wellbeing depends on yours – and you’re likely to be happier if your depression is treated.

My sister had mastitis when she was breastfeeding. How can I avoid it?  

Mastitis is an infection that often develops out of a blocked milk duct. It causes flu-like symptoms including a fever, chills, and aches and pains; you’ll also notice a hard red patch of skin on your breast. The infection needs to be treated with antibiotics and you should continue to nurse your baby throughout, starting feeds on the unaffected side, to keep up your milk flow. Hot or coolpacks can help relieve soreness but if you find feeds too painful, hand-express your milk and ask your lactation consultant for guidance.

Many moms develop mastitis when they return to work and are not feeding their baby as regularly. If you’re expressing milk at work, try to schedule it when you would normally have nursed your baby or do it at least every four hours.

Help! I recently returned to work and my baby is getting expressed breast milk from a bottle during the day. But when I try to nurse her in the evening, she refuses the breast. Could it be she prefers to bottlefeed?

If you’re pumping milk at work this should keep up your milk supply but it’s best to try and do this at the times you would have nursed your baby. Many working moms cut down to just once a day, during their lunch hour and since milk is produced on a supply and demand basis, your flow will reduce if you’re not feeding your baby or expressing to the usual schedule. This means that when you latch your baby on after work, there may not be as much milk as she’s used to and she may get frustrated – especially if she has worked out that she doesn’t have to work so hard to get milk from a bottle! Try to get past the problem by latching your baby on as soon as you get in instead of waiting until she’s really hungry, when she’ll get particularly irate at having to suckle hard in order to feed. Try waiting until she’s drowsy too, as many babies will feed while they snooze.

 Item Courtesy of Super Nanny

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Study doubts breastfeeding benefit for eczema

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Breastfeeding is often advocated as a way to help prevent allergies in babies at high risk, but a new study finds that infants breastfed for longer periods may actually be more likely to develop the allergic skin condition eczema.

The study followed 321 infants who were at increased risk of allergies because their mothers had a history of asthma. Researchers found that among those who were breastfed exclusively for more than six months, 55 percent developed eczema by age 2.

That compared with 37 percent of those breastfed exclusively for three to six months, and 29 percent of babies given breast milk alone for less than three months.

On the other hand, the babies were less likely to develop wheezing symptoms as long as they were still being breastfed. Wheezing — difficult breathing marked by a high-pitched whistling sound — is a common symptom of respiratory infections in infants and young children because their airways are so small; but it can also be a marker of an increased asthma risk later on.

Exactly why breastfeeding had different associations with eczema and wheezing is not certain. But several previous studies have found a similar pattern.

Taken together, the findings suggest that extended breastfeeding should not be recommended as a way to prevent eczema in high-risk babies, Dr. Hans Bisgaard and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark write in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

That does not mean, however, that women with a history of allergies or asthma should avoid breastfeeding, according to Bisgaard. “There are many good reasons why the mother should breastfeed her child,” he told Reuters Health in an email.

Breast milk is considered the best, most balanced form of nutrition for infants, and experts generally recommend that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life.

As for why longer breastfeeding might contribute to eczema in high-risk babies, it’s possible, according to Bisgaard’s team, that mothers with allergies can transmit a “risk factor” for eczema through their breast milk — such as antibodies or other immune system substances that promote the allergy.

The fatty-acid makeup of the breast milk could also be a factor, the researchers note. In a previous study of the same group of mothers, Bisgaard’s team found that the women’s breast milk generally had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than that of mothers without allergies; there is some evidence that omega-3 fats are protective against allergies and asthma.

There was no strong evidence from the current study, however, that the fatty acid content of mothers’ milk was important in eczema risk. “Therefore, follow-up studies regarding other possible immune modulating factors are planned,” Bisgaard said.

The current findings are based on 321 children who were followed starting at the age of 1 month. Their parents kept diaries to record any “wheezy episodes” — defined as three consecutive days of the breathing problem — and cases of eczema were diagnosed by the researchers.

Overall, 69 babies were breastfed exclusively for less than three months, 203 for three to six months and 49 for more than six months.

When the researchers accounted for a number of factors in eczema risk — including birth weight, parents’ history of eczema and the presence of a cat or dog at home — babies who were still being exclusively breastfed between the ages of 6 and 9 months were more than six times more likely to develop eczema by age 2 than those who were no longer being fed breast milk alone.

When it came to wheezing, the majority of the babies — 262 — had at least one episode. However, babies who were still being exclusively breastfed had a one-third lower risk than infants the same age who had stopped.

Breastfeeding, according to Bisgaard’s team, may help reduce wheezing episodes by protecting babies from respiratory infections — the primary cause of wheezing that early in life.

Because all of the mothers in the study had a history of asthma, the findings cannot be generalized to other women, Bisgaard said. Further studies are needed to better understand how longer breastfeeding might affect average-risk babies’ odds of eczema or wheezing, according to the researcher.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, March 2010.

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When Breastfeeding Gets Tough – How to Get the Help You Need

Author: Carrie Lauth

If you’re feeling frustrated with breastfeeding, remind yourself of why you wanted to nurse your baby in the first place, then run – don’t walk – to find the help you need to continue to breastfeed.

Here are some of the benefits of breastfeeding your baby.

1. Breastfeeding creates a strong emotional bond between Mom and baby. Breastfeeding can even help you be a better Mom – when you breastfeed, your body is stimulated to create the mothering hormones, prolactin and oxytocin, which can help you feel relaxed and calm. These hormones even make you feel less stressed and more rested despite sleep deprivation!

2. Breastfeeding can create a calmer baby too. The regular skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding provides helps reduce the stress baby feels of having left the womb.

3. If your baby is experiencing discomfort or pain, the closeness of breastfeeding can help as well. Besides physical closeness, breast milk contains endorphins that help suppress any pain your baby feels.

4. Breastfed babies are healthier. According to many studies, breastfeeding your baby can help reduce food allergies, eczema, asthma, prolonged colds, childhood cancers, bronchitis, diaper rashes, and many other conditions.

5. Breastfeeding mothers can also be healthier. They have lower rates of breast, ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancers, as well as a reduced risk of developing osteoporosis.

5. Breastfed babies are smarter. Some studies show that breastfeeding can increase an infant’s IQ, and there is evidence that breastfed children achieve higher on developmental tests.

6. Breastfeeding mothers lose weight more quickly. If you’re anxious to shed those pregnancy pounds, stick with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size faster than if you don’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding also increases the level of the hormone prolactin which speeds up post-partum weight loss.

If you’re having breastfeeding frustrations, here are some places you can find the support you need.

1. Remember that your doctor may not have the answers you need. If she can’t answer your questions, don’t give up – just look for help somewhere else.

2. Find someone who is specially trained to answer your breastfeeding questions, like a lactation specialist or a member of the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

3. You could also speak with a La Leche League Leader. These are volunteers who have been specially trained to help mothers with breastfeeding. They are also good listeners, and non-judgmental.

4. One of your best sources of help and support can be other mothers who have successfully breastfed their children. They can tell you about their experiences, and assure you that things you are experiencing are normal. They can also give you advice and tell you what worked for them.

If you’re not having problems with breastfeeding right now, it is still a good idea to learn what resources are available and where you can connect with other breastfeeding moms. If you ever do have concerns, you will know exactly where to go for help and won’t be tempted to give up breastfeeding your baby before you’re ready.

About the Author
For more information about breastfeeding, including tips, advice, mom’s stories and resources, go to the Breastfeeding Book

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