Breast Is Best
by Alicia Fierro If ten different people were asked to explain what a miracle means to them you would get ten different answers. What does a miracle mean to you?
A miracle can mean a variety of things and there is not one wrong answer. I truly believe a miracle is when a woman is able to bring a child into the world. During that time a mother experiences a variety of emotions. They can range from pain, joy, love, frustration, and a thousand other feelings all at once. After a mother gives birth to a child her whole entire life has been changed forever. The first time a mother holds her child she then truly understands what unconditional love is. While many mothers believe that giving birth is the hardest part they soon realize it is only the beginning to the many obstacles they will soon face. How does a mother know what is best for her child? How does she know if breast milk or formula is better for them? A mother is questioned every single day on whether her parenting skills are correct for her child. It is extremely important as a mother to be educated on the health, safety, and nutrition of a child. As mothers it is our job to always protect our children and give them the best life possible.
From my personal experience I can understand what goes into caring for a child. I found out I was pregnant at the age of eighteen years old. I knew from the first time I heard my son’s heart beat I had made the right decision. I had planned to deliver my son natural, but with children we all know nothing goes according to plan. At thirty-two weeks I was rushed to the hospital to have an emergency C- section due to a condition called Toxemia. My son was born weighing three pounds and immediately placed into the intensive care unit. As a young mother I was very scared and not educated on how to raise a child. After a traumatic experience the nurses immediately had me begin to breast-feed my son. I did everything in my power to be able to produce milk but was very unsuccessful. When I talked to the nurses about switching from breast-feeding to formula they told me to do what is easiest for me. I felt like a failed as a mother because I could not breast-feed my child. No one encouraged me to keep trying or even explained all the health benefits that breast-feeding creates for the child and the mother. My son is four years old now, and I am just recently finding out all the benefits we both could have received from breast-feeding. From my research project I am hoping to continue my education on the benefits breast feeding creates for the child, the mother, and how to continue to educate mothers and the public on breast-feeding.
Breast-feeding has been recognized as one of the most valuable medical contributes to infant health. It has been proven that breast-fed babies have a healthier start in life. Breast milk contains a balance of nutrients that closely matches infant requirements for brain development, growth, and a healthy immune system. According to Marotz(2012), “Advantages of breast-feeding is that it provides antibodies (immunoglobulin) that protects the infant from some infectious illnesses” (p. 392). Its goal is to protect the baby from viruses, bacteria, and parasites. From the first feeding of breast milk their immune system has already began to strengthen. Human milk is rich in iron, vitamins, and other newly discovered nutrients for the brain and the body. One big health concern is when babies are formula fed the parents can easily make the bottle too hot for the child. However, when the milk comes from the breast it is always at body temperature and sterile. Marotz (2012) found “that breast milk is inexpensive, convenient, and always available at the correct temperature” (p. 392). Not only does this benefit the child in a variety of different health aspects it also helps create an emotional bond for mother and child. There is controversy on whether breast fed babies bond better with their mother than babies who are bottle fed. I personally do not believe they do because when I fed my son through a bottle we formed an affectionate attachment to each other. Fathers may not physically be able to breast- feed either but they can form an attachment to the child during feeding time. It is obvious from the facts that breast milk is the best method of feeding for the child. Breast milk creates s a variety of health benefits for the baby. An emotional attachment can be formed if the mother puts the time and dedication into connecting with her child. This bond can be formed with a child during feeding time whether it comes from the bottle or the breast.
The second your child is brought into this world your life instantly revolves around them. As a young parent I was truly focused on providing my son with the best food resource for which I thought was formula. At the time I was uneducated about what positive benefits breast- feeding provides for not just for my son but for me as well. As I continue my research I am finding out new things everyday. For example if a mother chooses to breast- feed it will help decrease the risk of postpartum depression. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), “about eight to nineteen percent of women suffer from postpartum depression” (P. 1). It can help decrease the risk of iron deficiency and osteoporosis. According to Berger (2012), “breast- feeding can lower the risk of ovarian and breast cancer” (p. 152). It’s truly remarkable that our body can produce milk for our child to survive on and through the process can also help save our life. Women need to be educated on the powerful benefits it provides for them. One thing personally that was a huge struggle was loosing the pregnancy weight I had gained. When my son went to formula I was never held responsible for keeping a healthy diet. Four years later I am still battling to loose my pregnancy weight. If a mother chooses to breast- feed she actually receives quicker results on getting back to her pre-pregnancy weight. A mother burns approximately six hundred calories or more a day when she breast-feeds her child. Breast feeding is not easy and it takes an extreme amount of hard work and dedication from the mother to be successful at. I truly believe in order for a mother to be successful she also needs a strong and firm support system. With a strong support system the family can conquer any new obstacles thrown their way. It is also important that families are aware of all resources that are available to them. Breast- feeding provides multiply benefits for not only the child but the mother as well. With all the education I have now, I cannot wait to experience and try breast- feeding for my next child.
In today’s world society is afraid of change. They are stuck in their same bubble of thinking and are afraid to standout. As educators it’s our job to create change and get people looking outside of the box. This is a huge issue when it comes to breast- feeding. Many mothers do not want to breast- feed because they believe it is too hard to achieve. They think people are going to look at them in a scornful way if they breast- feed in public. Majority of the reasons women choose not to breast-feed stem from what society will think of them. The issue is these mothers and their families are uneducated and have been giving inaccurate information or horror stories about breast- feeding. All over the world communities are working hard on projects to educate women and their families about breast-feeding. This helps create awareness that breast-feeding is achievable, normal, and can be desirable for every family. For example the HHS Office on Women’s Health along with other federal agencies has created a policy called the HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding. Their overall goal is to increase the number of mothers who breast-feed their babies. According to Lewis (2003), “the plan is based on education, training, awareness, support, and science, and includes key recommendations of the HHS Subcommittee on Breast- Feeding” (p. 1). There is several health plans that are working toward making women aware of the many health benefits breast- feeding holds for their newborns and for themselves. Health plans play a vital role in increasing the number of women who successfully breast-feed their babies. Additionally Lewis (2003) found “ health plans can support breast-feeding mothers during the critical first days and weeks postpartum by offering all mothers access to special services provided by trained physicians, nurses, lactation specialists, and peer counselors or other trained health care providers” (p. 2). It is obvious this issue is critical to a newborns life and they want to see the number of healthy babies rise. Another great way to spread awareness about breast-feeding is through colleges. I have learned from a variety of organization about breast- feeding. The organization First Five has classes and presentations on breast- feeding. In one of my classes a registered dietitian and lactation counselor came and talked to my class about the services she offers to the community. Personally through my own education I have learned to be more open about breast- feeding. It is such a natural and beautiful thing to experience it should not be awkward to talk about with a group of people. I will randomly just spill out facts to my friends about breast- feeding so when they have children they can be informed. I just want other women to experience what I could not and work toward giving their child the health they deserve. It just takes one person to make a change. Let’s not wait for tomorrow but let’s start today.
Breast-feeding is an incredible journey for a family to experience. It provides low cost and nutritional support for infants. Breast milk provides the baby with being able to fight infections and germs. While it benefits the child immensely it also benefits the mother as well. It helps reduce certain cancers and helps her get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. As a mother it is one of my biggest regrets that I did not keep trying to breast-feed my son. I get emotional when other women talk about the experiences they had, and I wish I was educated to know the benefits it provides. I am extremely blessed my son is healthy from using formula because he was a premature baby. I know that when the time is right and I do have another child I am going to breast-feed and be successful at it. It is something I will give to my child because it is what my child deserves. However, now that I am older and little bit wiser I can help spread this information to others. It is extremely important to educate women and their families on such a valuable subject. Just one simple conversation to a group of people can help change a child’s life forever. I hope in time people will have less negativity around breast-feeding. Society makes assumptions about breast-feeding because they are unaware of the subject. Society lacks in having information on breast-feeding as I did when I gave birth to my son. Health plans, teachers, friends, and family members need to advocate for children. We are the only voice they have and we need to step up and speak up for the innocent children in the world. Breast-feeding can lead to many children having a healthier and more successful start to life. Today is the day to make a change and I know I will take the challenge to continue to educate others on the breast-feeding.