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"breast is best" why?

(35 Posts)
mam Sat 04-Jan-03 11:42:28

Sorry to ask what might seem obvious to some but people are always saying breast is best but it seems that this is just a saying or am I wrong?

Demented Sat 04-Jan-03 12:18:26

Ooooh, that's a big question for a Saturday morning and I am sure you will get many educated answers from Mumsnetters but I will tell you why I think breast is best.

My main reasons, very selfishly, are all about convenience - no sterilising, no formula to buy, no bottles that can be left behind, no worries about how to store made up bottles when you are out and about and how to get them heated, no stuff to lug with you when you go to stay anywhere.

I have experienced both sides, my first DS was exclusively b/fed for five weeks and then mix-fed until 16 weeks when he went onto bottles all the time. My DS2 had nothing else but breastmilk to drink (although also on solids from 17 wks) until he was almost seven months and he now takes a little water with his lunch and has never had formula, I find the situation much easier with DS2, I always have his milk supply with me, it is all ready mixed and ready to dispense whenever he requires it. With DS1 however I had all the hassle of bottles and for me (very disorganised person) it was too much.

There are of course many health benefits with b/feeding although I have met children who have been exclusively b/fed and still have eczema and asthma but I am sure the incidence of these things are greatly reduced. A b/fed child is also less likely to get gastric illnesses. There is also the benefit of b/milk being the milk human babies were intended to receive and therefor it is easier digested, there is less waste, often resulting in less dirty nappies (both my DS1 and 2 went through a phase where they only dirtied a nappy once a week) that don't smell so bad. Many of the benefits of b/feeding last the child throughout their life. There are also benefits to the mother, particularly from extended b/feeding, I understand this offers some protection against certain cancers.

I do personally believe that breast is best and worth any initial difficulties, although I do believe that women should be offered good help with b/feeding, although unfortunately this seems to be rarely the case. I also feel that b/feeding women have a responsibility in the promotion of b/feeding to feed in public and get people back to thinking of b/feeding as a natural and normal way to feed a baby.

mam, I am just curious, you do not say if you are pg, have a baby, are feeding, thinking of feeding, have fed. Are you trying to make up your mind?

As I said already others will have more detail for you, if Eulalia is out there she is a mine of b/feeding information and I am sure will post something for you. All the best.

SoupDragon Sat 04-Jan-03 13:20:18

Basically it's human milk for human babies and how nature intended us to feed them (I'm not saying that it comes naturally to us though, not by any means! Sometimes it doesn't work and this is where formula comes in and saves lives and mothers' sanity). I guess that's where all the other health benefits for mother and child stem from as it's what's "meant" to happen.

I too did it for mainly selfish reasons: no fuss & it's always at the right temperature and is always there when you need it. And the weight loss. I was down to my pre pregnancy weight within 7 months with no effort/exerise/dieting and continued to lose a few pounds more as well. After a very difficult start I fed DS1 for 12 months and DS2 for 15.

Rhiannon Sat 04-Jan-03 13:37:46

It is but... I have two very healthy children (touch wood). One breastfed for 6 weeks one totally formula fed. I stopped b.f for many reasons and never contemplated b.f no2.

I know some b.f babies with the most appallling eczema.

It's down to individual choice in the end but b.f is free and on tap so give it a try.

aloha Sat 04-Jan-03 14:48:26

Breast is best because it is the most nutritious, healthy food your child can have - far superior to formula. Not only is it perfectly adapted to your child's age and needs as she grows, but it contains substances that simply cannot be replicated artificially, such as long chain fatty acids designed for humans which have a very specific role in helping they eyes and brain (including possibly protecting against future depression as well as boosting intelligence) to develop, growth factors and other 'live' ingredients which formula cannot ever contain. Breast milk is also protective against infection and allergy, and provides a way of passing on your own immunities to your children. Take live yoghurt and other 'good bacteria' products when you are breastfeeding and you can pass on good gut bacteria to your baby too help protect against allergies. It is also convenient, you can't forget your baby's food while you are out, and is always hygienic, ready-mixed and ready to drink! Of course, you can bring up healthy, clever children on formula (I mixed fed from very early on due to supply problems), but I don't think even the most avid formula fans would deny the superior benefits of breast milk.

AnnieG Sat 04-Jan-03 17:32:32

If your baby is premature your body automatically adapts the breastmilk for your baby needs, hence it is particularly beneficial in these circumstances.(One of my boys was 8 weeks premature and in intensive care for several weeks.I established supply by expressing the milk and when he was well enough it was tube-fed to him.)It also makes nightfeeds so much easier-all my babies slept with us when they were small and I rarely had a broken night(controversial I know but it felt right to me.The milk supply is also stimulated most by the night feeds so allowing a baby to feed frequently in the early days ensures a good supply.)

happydays Sat 04-Jan-03 18:07:39

i have a very healthy 3 year old son, and i didn't breastfeed, knew from before i gave birth i was not going to do so, wasn't for me. The thing that really got to me was that the midwifes in the hospital tried to make you feel guilty because of not breastfeeding, my mate had a child the same time and breastfed she gave up after 3 years because she was in too much pain.

happydays Sat 04-Jan-03 18:08:17

i of course meant 3 weeks, not 3 years!!! sorry

Eulalia Sat 04-Jan-03 19:49:38

mam - not much to add here except perhaps to also point out the benefits to yourself as b/feeding also helps to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.

There is a long list here - sorry I am not sure how to put in links. Just cut and paste the following address -

Eulalia Sat 04-Jan-03 20:09:03

OK I finally made the effort to find the page on this site which gives instructions about how to do links so here goes ....

101 reasons for breastfeeding


anais Sat 04-Jan-03 20:34:40

I have nothing to add really, as everyone has already posted everything I was going to say.

I was interested by your comment HappyDays, as I found the opposite, myself. I was committed to breastfeeding right from the start. My son had a cleft lip and palate and one of my main concerns was that I wouldn't be able to b/f. I expressed for 10 months in the end - basically because I wasn't given the support I needed right at the start. They did call b/f counsellors , but not early enough. Anyway, despite my determination to b/f the m/w were constantly advising me to top him up with formula, I resisted, but on the one occasion I allowed them to look after him, they used I'm my final bottle of ebm and didn't bother telling me, so I had to use formula.

It's just strange that your experience was so different. I wonder what different agendas they have? Or maybe it's just a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't?

Demented Sat 04-Jan-03 21:07:03

Wonderful Eulalia, I knew you would come up with the goods!

happydays Sun 05-Jan-03 11:11:25

anais, it might of had something to do with the fact i had a long hard labour and probably managed to annoy all the midwifes, (at the time i was a bit annoyed that the 5 midwifes who saw me while i was in labour, only 1 had a child and that was delivered by caes.......n (sorry lost my dictionary.

SoupDragon Sun 05-Jan-03 11:47:19

One thing I read on another list somewhere was how different would things be if the "marketing speak" on infant feeding was switched round.

So, given that bf is the biological norm, then breast is not better, formula is worse. BF babies do not have a lower incidence of excema/asthma, formula fed babies have a higher incidence of them. BF does not reduce the risk to X, Y and Z, formula feeding increases it. I thought it was an interesting point.

Don't get me wrong, as I said before, formula saves babies' lives and mothers' sanity but it's interesting how even the pro-bf literature takes formula feeding as being the norm when writing its comparisons.

And Happydays, the way to spell it without a dictionary is c-section I can never spell the other word either!!

mam Sun 05-Jan-03 14:12:41

Thanks for all your responses. I must admit I was actually playing a little devils advocate here. The reason is that all you keep hearing is breast is best breast is best but apart from two people who only breastfed for 6 weeks I don't know anyone except myself who fed for longer and felt at times that someone left me off the list for reasons to turn to formula. Plus I know what they say about it being best but sometimes it just seems airy fairy - my children where breastfed for ove a year before they would willingly leave it and I feel as if it's due to the breastfeeding that the nights (and getting them down to sleep in the day) have been so frightful and fretful plus they seem to get everything going and don't seem any healthier than any other child etc etc etc. But thanks again for taking the time to respond and I am giong to have a proper read of the 101 reasons at bedtime... children permitting of course!

Eulalia Sun 05-Jan-03 14:16:51

Soupdragon - I have this article in my 'library' and could be the one you are thinking of:

Watch Your Language!

Eulalia Sun 05-Jan-03 14:23:41

mam - no pain no gain! I doubt if it would have been any easier any other way... think positive - most of my friends who have done both (usually moved onto bottles after a period of b/feeding) say breastfeeding was easier. You can't really 'blame' breastfeeding for a baby not sleeping well or anything else - they are probably just like that anyway. I know it is not always easy on mum but mothering wasn't supposed to be easy was it?

SoupDragon Sun 05-Jan-03 15:42:29

I don't think I ever saw the article, just reference to it. Thanks

Wills Sun 05-Jan-03 15:44:00

Eulalia - couldn't agree more. Unfortunately I had to return to work when dd was only 3.5 months and at that point try as hard as I could the breasts gave up and I was forced to move to bottles and its definitely no where near as easy. Bottles are so messy, they need cleaning storing, carrying, steralising etc etc etc. Far harder to get up in the night and get a bottle ready.

ks Sun 05-Jan-03 15:48:50

Message withdrawn

anais Sun 05-Jan-03 20:49:21

Ah, HappyDays, all these nurses who know so much better, even though they've never actually done it...Mind you, I had a male student midwife assist the delivery of my ds, and it was the first baby he'd delivered!

Eulalia Mon 06-Jan-03 20:42:28

ks - so was it OK in the end then, giving up? I feel we may end up on the same track. I can't seem to find anything that my son wants in substitute. He even wants it when dd isn't around although of course it doesn't help seeing me feed her.

I also read somewhere that all women should aim to breastfeed for longer - 2 years if possible because most women have less children and the children they do have they tend not to feed for long. In years gone by women would have breastfeed for a long time by the time you added together all the children.

Another benefit which I am not sure was mentioned is less periods which is good for your body and saves money too. I've had only 9 periods in the last 4 years (2 pregnancies) and no sign of them returning yet.

bundle Mon 06-Jan-03 20:50:36

fabulous, Eulalia, making me feel even more self-righteous about my 2 year stint

ks Mon 06-Jan-03 21:42:09

Message withdrawn

susanmt Tue 07-Jan-03 11:27:03

Yep, I ended up biting my tongue a lot over New Year when we were visiting family. Ds is almost 1 and several people said things that I am sure they thought were tactful, like 'I suppose you'll be thinking about weaning him soon', and at my Dad's house I had to take him away to feed him when he wanted it as it makes Dad very uncomfortable. In fact the only person who is really encouraging about it is my 80 year old Gran, who congratulates me every time she sees me!
I am going for 2 years, I have always planned to, but people telling me not to makes me want to do it even more!

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