Breastfeeding is one of the most controversial topics since the beginning of human life. In 2007 according to UNICEF, one and a half million infants died because of contaminated infant formula. Before farming was introduced, babies where breastfed by their mothers or by another woman which is referred to as “wet nursing”. Those in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome left behind paintings and sculptures symbolizing the importance of mothers or wet nurses. The concept that breast milk was otherwise “sacred milk” was widespread by the Egyptians to the Greco-Roman world. In Egypt, the riches families were the ones who hired a wet nurse, it’s been known as the second oldest job. For a wet nurse, her job was so valuable that her own children were then considered siblings to the pharaoh. As some may know, breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive. Because of this, aristocrats handed their infants to wet nurses so they could get access of theirs wife’s sexual favors, and also to ensure the birth of more children. By the near end of the 19th century, formula was created, not to replace breastmilk but to give others a wider option. Today, the combination of contaminated water and formula kills hundred of thousand of infants a year.
This source shows in depth the importance of breastfeeding, and the use of mother’s milk to mothers, babies and society. The advantages include health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychological, social, economical, and environmental benefits. Yet, some people still are curious to know; why is human milk is deemed superior to formula? Because formulated milk is designed to fit different babies in different situations. It also has to be measured for consumption depending on the health, growth and development of the infant. Another difference is that premature infants receive significant benefits from human milk that outweighs the use of formula and will persist for the rest of their lives causing them to be as healthy, or healthier than their peers. Bacterial meningitis, otitis media, urinary tract infections, diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, obesity, and asthma just to name a few can all be prevented and controlled with breastfeeding. When a baby is breastfed, not only does the infant receive advantages but so does the mother. Those benefits include decreased postpartum bleeding also known as lochia, less chance of postpartum depression, quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight, decreased risk of ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. Because breastfed infants are healthier than formula fed, there is no need for parents to miss workdays, and can spend more time with their families. Also, the community saves money because there are less kids in the hospitals, the costs will decrease approximately around $3.5 billions in the US only. Promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding are some of the goals pediatricians have. With effort and education to the families and the community, there could be a difference. Markoe, Lauren. 'Breast-feeding, on the rise, remains an issue in pews.' The Christian Century 131.3 (2014): Academic OneFile. Web. 4 July 2014. Some mothers today still feel the tensed pressure of breastfeeding in public, even in church. People want them to nurse their babies a bench away from them. What do these mothers say to those people? “Well, that Jesus was breastfeed too.”
In December of 2013, the Pope Francis saw a young mother that appeared timid because she was breastfeeding her infant in the midst of a general audience. He said, “I wish to say the same to humanity: give people to something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food to feed everyone.” Although more American women are breastfeeding their babies now, they still feel shamed or looked upon in public.
But not all churches disapprove the act of breastfeeding. In fact, many Mormon churches in Utah have a 9% higher church attendance rate than the national average. Why? Because they openly welcome nursing mothers. It has come to the point now that many La Leche League (breastfeeding association) meetings are held in different churches nationwide hear the concerns of the churchgoers, and to educate at the same time. It is a shame that breastfeeding is an issue everywhere. “It’s what women’s bodies were made for”, said Barbara Emanuel, executive director of La Leche. Murtagh, Lindsey and Moulton, Anthony. Working Mothers, Breastfeeding, and the Law. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 101 Issue 2 Feb2011: page 217-223.web Ebsco host, June 2014. The biggest problems for most breastfeeding mothers are work barriers. In 2010, the “Reasonable Break Time” Act was passed. Consequently, mothers are able to pump their breastmilk for children younger than 1 year old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding between 6 to 12 months. 35.5% of mothers work full time and 16.1% work part-time. Therefore, improving the ability to pump and store milk in their job would help breastfeeding babies. The lack of privacy and time to express the milk while working affects mothers in their decision when returning back to work from said maternity leave. Studies show that, professional women working in corporate office careers do better with pumping and storing milk at their job compared to different occupations as retail sales, administrative support and construction careers. Working mothers desiring to breastfeed tried 3 times to work with Congress to pass a law between 1981 and 1978, but it was without success. Lactating mothers need to breastfeed or to express to maintain a good milk supply. Some states in the US after 2010 then passed some regulations, so mothers can have reasonable break times to breastfeed or to express. It is also stated that employers are to provide private locations to accommodate mothers. Thankfully, there are now jurisdictions that prohibit employees to discriminate the breastfeeding in the workplace or expressing of the milk. Choosing formula or breastfeeding is a decision that will affect infants for the rest of their lives. When a baby drinks formula or breast milk, they obviously will still survive and flourish, but the difference is the quality between them. Not all of the properties and nutrients that are found in breast milk are found in formula.
Since 1990, formula producing industries have been changing their components and finding new ways to make it better, but they still can’t figure how to make it exactly like the human milk, although similar. Both of them have the same composition, water, lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals; but they are also significantly different in many ways. Some properties that are missing in formula are lactoferrin and immunoglobulin. These help babies to prevent infections. Why does breastfed babies tend to get hungry faster? Well, because the carbohydrates they get in human milk get are easier to digest compared to the carbs found in formula. Human milk not only contains lactose (formula too), but breast milk also contains oligosaccharides, these are complex and easy to digest. On the other hand, fats are complicated. Formula companies not only are reluctant to add cholesterol to their product, but also they just started to add Omega3 fatty acids.
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