The Green Baby Food: Breast Milk
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The Green Baby Food: Breast Milk

With breast feeding, there is no need for costly production, foreign distribution, excess packaging, needless shipping, or even lots of cows, which produce excess methane gas. Breast feeding isnÂ’t wasteful and itÂ’s always free. You donÂ’t have to use heat or electricity to keep it or get it to the right temperature, so breast feeding is definitely the greenest way to go.

The United States has greatly deviated from the natural pattern of breast feeding; whereas most other-world cultures have kept the more natural method of lactating mothers feeding their infants. God’s natural design for feeding infants simply cannot be improved on, and when we deviate from the natural means of infant feeding, we open ourselves up to hardships, disease, and failures that we might not otherwise have experienced. The ease of breast feeding as compared to bottle feeding is simply a more convenient, healthier, and loving method of child care. The loving contribution to an infant and the benefits to both the child and the mother cannot be outdone by the unnatural and artificial method of bottle feeding. In our modern society, women have been convinced that they cannot breastfeed successfully, and that it’s not a convenient method. As a successful breast feeding mother of eight children, who obtained a Master’s degree while breast feeding my last two children, I think I am living proof that this is simply not true. In a culture that predominately bottle feeds, breast-feeding may seem like a foreign notion to new mothers, but it is becoming more and more common in the U.S. every day. Breast-feeding in today’s uncertain world is not only an option, but it is the preferable method for feeding infants. Every formula that has ever been created for mass marketing, are all based on the nutritional standards of natural breast-milk. Though these formulas may mimic some of the nutritional elements found in breast milk, all formulas are inferior to breast milk. There are significant nutritional, immunological, and psychological advantages to breastfed babies. The physical and psychological benefits to the mother are significant and unique to breast feeding, as well.

The constantly changing qualities of breast milk perfectly match the stages of development in an infant or toddler. The first milk, which is called colostrum, is high in protein, low in fat, and contains a myriad of immunity factors for a baby’s first few days of development, which a manmade formula simply cannot mimic completely, no matter how close we may come. During the next few days and months, breast milk adapts to decrease the levels of protein and immunity factors, while the levels of fat and lactose increase. When a baby begins to wean and nurses less, the immunity increases again to further help protect the weaning child from disease. No formula can do this. Many studies suggest that breastfed babies have fewer and less severe bouts of diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear infections, and many other diseases and child hood maladies such as Sudden Infant Death (SIDs) syndrome. When a mother is exposed to bacteria or a virus, her immune system produces antibodies in her breast milk, which protects the baby, even when the mother is sick herself. Human milk provides the ideal nutrition for a human infant’s digestive tract. The proteins and fats in a mother’s milk are highly digestible and the other components of breast milk, which are primarily water and lactose, are well suited to the needs of human infants. (It is not well suited to baby squirrels that fall out of trees, as I once found out! Unfortunately when I tried to feed it my breast milk with a dropper, it died.) Lactose levels are higher in human milk than in other species with smaller brains. It is essential for newborn development, central nervous system development, and the absorption of calcium.

Breastfed babies receive all the water they need from the mother’s milk and do not need water supplements. In areas where water supplies are contaminated, or questionable, giving a baby formula made with local water, or giving babies water supplements, can be detrimental to the babies' health, causing severe diarrhea, and sometimes even death. Every known and unknown nutrient that a baby needs for growth and development is included in breast milk, which is the perfect food for human babies, and was designed by our Creator God. The effects of all the enzymes and hormones in breast milk on a baby’s development are still being discovered today. Some of these help the digestive process; others have various properties of immunity. The hormones contained in breast milk regulate biochemical responses to feeding and help in the development of the intestinal tract. None of these unique functions can be copied by any man-made formula. In the breastfed baby, the mother’s nipple conforms to the baby’s mouth, while the bottle-fed baby’s mouth conforms to the shape of the bottle nipple. This often causes problems with teeth and jaw bone structure. Breast milk has also been linked to higher IQ scores in children as well, because certain properties of breast milk help in the development of the human brain.

Breastfeeding is so uniquely different from bottle feeding in both its composition and its delivery. Breastfeeding releases hormones to both the mother and the baby that are calming and relaxing, sometimes giving busy and tired mothers their only chance to rest a few minutes during their day. Night-time nursings are so convenient, with no need to get up and prepare bottles, just simply put your baby in bed with you, let your baby latch on, and both of you can contentedly drift off to sleep again. Breast feeding has also been shown to decrease episodes of post-partum depression, and has been shown to be linked with decreased rates of breast cancer, as well. It also gives a new mother great confidence in herself, as she knows that she is doing the right thing for herself and her baby.

Breastfeeding is not inconvenient, nor is it troublesome, as some proponents of formula feeding might suggest. You can bring your baby along wherever you go, or even leave your baby with a sitter for a few hours if necessary. It is not hard to modestly cover yourself while nursing, just throw a small blanket over both the baby and you. I have breast fed an infant while pushing a grocery cart through Wal-Mart and no one knew anything more than that I was holding my baby. Breast milk can also be pumped, stored, frozen, and given in mother’s absence, if she needs to return to work or school. In my case, I took two morning classes, had a long lunch break to go nurse the baby, and then took another afternoon class, three days a week. Even a few days or a few weeks of breast feeding is so important for your baby’s well being, it’s better than not ever trying to breast feed.

With all the recent scares from products produced and made in China and in other foreign countries, who knows what your baby may be getting in her formula. Even foods produced in the US aren’t necessarily safe anymore, as we saw with the recent peanut butter fiasco. There’s no concern about this when you breast feed your baby, if you're at least a little bit careful about the quality of your own food. With breast feeding, there is no need for costly production, foreign distribution, excess packaging, needless shipping, or even lots of cows, which produce excess methane gas. You do not have to prepare or wait for it to warm up, nor do you have to tote a diaper bag full of bottles that have to stay at a certain temperature, nor throw it away if it doesn’t keep. Breast feeding isn’t wasteful and it’s always free. You don’t have to use heat or electricity to keep it or get it to the right temperature, so breast feeding is definitely the greenest way to go. As you can see, breast milk is free of cost, quite convenient, and environmentally friendly and safe. Go green--breast feed!

©2009 Kimberly Hartfield

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