Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
What are the advantages of breast feeding?
The advantages of breast milk and breast feeding include...
* more easily digestible than formula and consequently more energy is available for growth
* has the perfect balance of protein, fat and nutrients for growing babies
* offers protection against infection and disease because the mother's antibodies are passed through the milk (bottle fed babies have twice as many infections as breast fed babies)
* offers protection against allergies even in families that suffer from allergies, eczema or asthma
* lower cholesterol levels and less incidence of heart disease (as adults) than bottle-fed babies
* less incidence of iron deficiency anemia because more nutrients are absorbed from breast milk
* lower incidence of stomach and intestinal upsets
* healthier teeth and jaws, fewer cavities and less orthodontal work
* protects against crib death
* half as likely to get ill and three times less likely to be admitted to a hospital
* contains the precursors for choline, a B vitamin important for normal development and function of the brain
* less postnatal hemorrhage in the mother because breast feeding causes the uterus to contract to its normal size
* even women who haven't given birth can produce milk for an adopted baby given the right assistance from the La Leche League
What diet should you follow during pregnancy to breast feed?
* avoid refined foods, sweet foods, and junk food that pile on weight without providing helpful nutrients
* instead of filling up on dairy foods that create gas-filled babies, eat more almonds, toasted sesame seeds, bony fish (sardines, herrings, salmon), tofu, soybeans, dark green leafy vegetables, and low fat yogurt
* take calcium (1200 mg) and magnesium citrate supplement daily
* take an additional 1000 calories (50mg) protein daily, including (if not prone to yeast infections) a heaped tablespoon of brewer's yeast or torula yeast (to increase your milk supply and invigorate you because it's full of protein, B complex vitamins and iron), cold water fish (contains essential fatty acids crucial for your baby's nervous system, brain and eyes), plenty of zinc foods (pumpkin and other seeds, nuts, shellfish, whole grain breads and cereals and leafy green vegetables)
* while breast feeding take a daily multivitamin and a multimineral to make sure you are not lacking in any nutrients
* avoid alcohol, aspirin, caffeine, nicotine, pesticides, herbicides, household cleansers, drugs (over-the-counter, recreational or prescribed), wash all your fruit and vegetables in vinegar and water before eating them (even better, switch to organic fruits and vegetables available in many large health food stores)
Preventing and dealing with common breast feeding problems
* during the months leading up to birth, prepare your nipples for the task by washing them with clean, warm water, sunbathing with nude breasts 15 minutes a day to toughen them, and in the last few weeks, stimulate your nipples after shower or bath by briskly rubbing them with a coarse towel, oiling with olive oil, and gently pulling and rolling them between your thumb and index finger; also try to express a few drops of the thick colostrum that your breasts will already be producing; this will ensure the milk ducts are open
* daily say the following affirmations and write on a card and read them:
I take in and give out nourishment in perfect balance
I am safe and free
I care for and nourish myself with love and joy
I love and approve of myself
* when breast feeding, make sure your baby takes the whole areola (brown area), not just the nipple; the nipple should be well back in baby's mouth to avoid being pressed against the hard palate.
* get sufficient rest during the day; forget about housework; nourishing your baby is more important
* take a daily B-complex supplement to stimulate milk production
* drink 10-12 glasses of distilled water (grocery store) or water that has been put through a reverse osmosis water filtration system (available at health food stores) daily so you have enough liquid to produce sufficient milk
* avoid supplementing breast milk with bottles as this will decrease your milk production; the more your baby stimulate your nipples, the more your body will produce milk.
* drink several cups of fennel tea and red raspberry tea to increase and enrich your milk
* try acupuncture; it can help stimulate milk production
* try homeopathic remedies: agnus castus if you feel weak, pulsatilla if the milk supply is variable or you've been exposed to cold or damp, causticum if you're anxious and tired and suffered from insomnia, urtica urens when breasts are painful and sting or itch and no milk is being produced, aconite when you're fearful, chamomilla when you've endured an angry outburst, ignatia after a shock or grief.
* try traditional Chinese remedies: every day for 5 days, boil 4 ounces of tofu with a tablespoon of brown sugar and three cups of water and drink it all down; also try eating brown rice or bulghar wheat or lettuce
* for a breast infection (pain, inflammation, tender, red and hot) try: stand under a hot shower or soak in a hot bath or wrap a hot-water bottle in a towel and keep against your sore breast, massage pokeroot ointment (health food or herb store) over the breast, avoid getting any on the nipple, or try crushing 1-2 garlic cloves and drinking them in a glass of hot water and lemon juice with a little honey or take Kyolic (dried garlic available in health food stores), boil one-half ounce of tangerine seeds in half water and half wine and drink a cup of juice three times a day, or (for early stages of acute infection) boil five ounce of white onion and two ounces of malt in two cups of water for 20 minutes and while it's still hot, rub it along the breast toward the nipple until the breast becomes red and soft
* If the infection continues to worsen over 48 hours despite trying all these home remedies, see your health care practitioner
This article is for information purposes only. For treatment, consult your health care practitioner.
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