BREASTFEEDING

For students of 12th to graduate grade.

LESSON 1 BREASTFEEDING OVERVIEW
Breastfeeding promotes health, helps to prevent disease, and reduces health care and feeding costs.  Many medical authorities, including The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasize the value of breastfeeding for mothers as well as children. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends newborns be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life, and breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complimentary foods for up to two years or more. 

Human breast milk is the healthiest form of milk for babies.  Human milk is species-specific, making it uniquely superior for infant feeding. All substitute-feeding preparations differ markedly from human breast milk. (Gartner, Morton, Lawerance, Naylor, O'Hare, Schanler, & Eidelman 2005). Breast milk is the natural first food for newborns, as it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the beginning stage of life.  Not only does breast milk provide optimal nutrition for the first months of life, but it continues to provide vast nutritional needs for optimal growth. (World Health Organization, 2010). 

The composition of breast milk keeps pace with the infant's individual growth and changing nutritional needs. Breast milk experiences three changes to meet the nutritional needs of the newborn. These three phases of milk are colostrum, transitional milk, and mature milk. 

The first milk that the body produces is colostrum. The mother begins producing colostrum as early as mid-pregnancy and continues to produce it until 3-5 days postpartum. Colostrum is thick and yellow or creamy in appearance. It is very rich in proteins, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and immunoglobins. The transfer of these nutrients and antibodies provides a passive immunity to the newborn, which plays a significant role in protecting the newborn from numerous illnesses. The second type of milk is transitional milk. Transitional milk occurs after colostrum. Transitional milk is high in calories and full of high levels of fat, lactose, and water-soluble vitamins. The last type of milk is mature milk. It is the result of lactation. Mature milk is rich in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These nutrients are adequate for normal growth and energy required by the newborn.