Mothers milk is still best!

Mothers milk or breast milk, we all know, is still the best for babies up to age 2 and beyond. The benefits of feeding your newborn baby with breast milk far exceeds the cons.

Let's take a look at the following benefits of mother's milk:

  • increased intelligence
  • baby gets the antibodies from the mother to protect against deadly illnesses
  • promotes mother-baby bonding
  • lowered risk of acquiring Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • decreased risk of asthma and eczema
  • lowered risk of childhood onset diabetes
  • and more

Breast milk has nutrients that are critical to baby's proper development. And some nutrients cannot be found in any milk supplements.

1. Linoleic and Linolenic acids
fatty acids essential in producing quality myelin, the protective layer of nerves.
2. Lipase
an enzyme that helps break down the fats in breast milk to make it more readily available to the baby. This can only be found in breast milk.
3. Calcium, Phosphorus and Iron
though these nutrients can be found in milk formula, those found in breast milk are absorbed better. For example, only 4% of iron in milk formula is absorbed by babies. In contrast, 50% to 75% of iron in breast milk is absorbed.
4. Epidermal growth factor (EGF)
small protein that is a powerful mitogen. This means it stimulates cell growth and differentiation which are essential in the development of an embryo or baby. It is also an important component of wound healing.
5. Lactoferrin
protein that binds iron that bacteria need for their growth

mothers milk

6. Immunoglobulin A (IgA)

antibodies passed on from the mother to baby, protects the baby against any disease that the mother has had or has been immunized with (such as mumps, influenza, hepatitis A or B, etc)
7. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin M (IgM)
other types of antibodies that fight bacterial and viral infections.
8. Lysozome
an enzyme that protects the infant from Salmonella and E.coli, two of the most common yet deadly bacteria.
9. Lactobacilli
a group of helpful bacteria that protects the baby by creating an acidic environment where harmful bacteria cannot survive.
10. Leucocytes
living cells found only in breast milk that helps infection.

It is the antibodies, living cells and enzymes mentioned that make breast milk superior to formula milk. They cannot be added to formula. Hence, if a baby does not get her mother's milk, he or she is more prone to diseases than a breast milk-fed one.

Benefits of breastfeeding

  • Breast milk has colostrum, the first liquid that comes out of the mother's breast. The colostrum, found only in breast milk, contains antibodies that protect the baby from infections.
  • Mothers milk is easily absorbed. Its proteins turn into soft curds that make it easily absorbed by infants. Infants have less developed digestive systems than adults.
  • The water content of breast milk is enough for the baby. There is no need to give water to a breastfeed baby even in hot climates such as the Philippines.
  • well developed jaws and teeth

  • Breastfeeding makes the jaws of the baby more developed. And it also makes the teeth of the infant less crowded as opposed to bottle-feeding.

    That's my son's photo at the right showing his well-deloved teeth. He's about 2 years old in this photo.

  • Another reason why breast milk is best for babies (and moms!) is because it doesn't cost anything. It is absolutely free. Yet it is priceless for baby's proper development and protection against illnesses.
  • Breast milk is always clean and safe to drink. Even expressed milk lasts longer than milk formula even at room temperature. It can last up to 8 hours.
  • Last, but certainly not the least, breastfeeding promotes mother to baby bonding that enhances the baby's psychological and emotional wellness (and the mother's, too!).
  • For more information on breastfeeding in the Philippine setting, the website of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST) is an excellent source.

    My breastfeeding experience

    I have personally breastfeed my son until 6 months of age. Although I had little milk and had to supplement it with milk formula, my child is healthy as he can be.

    My son at 2 years old can already speak sentences and be understood. So, he may not be a genius (for now), I know that he is intelligent for his age.

    Of course, immunizations help a lot in raising a healthy baby. But feeding your baby with mothers milk definitely makes him or her more immune to diseases.

    Aside from the common colds, my son hasn't acquired any disease or ailment. Proper care, hygiene, immunizations and lots of love definitely make one health child.

    I can say that mothers milk is really best for babies. After all, I was breastfeed by my mother for a year or so. She got pregnant when I turned one, so I didn't get to enjoy more years of mothers milk. But still, experts say any amount of mothers milk is better than none at all!

    I live in the Philippines where advertisements of milk supplements abound. But with proper education and research, I hope more women get to breastfeed their babies. No doubt, I strongly advocate breastfeeding.

    Truly, mothers milk is still best for babies!

    Do you know that mother's milk is rich in glutathione?

    Actually, it's not glutathione itself but the precursor which is cysteine and glutamic acid (from glutamate). Cysteine is one of the three glutatathione precursors that make up the glutathione molecule.

    Aside from cysteine, breast milk also contains the essential amino acids methionine and taurine.

    Methionine can also be converted to cysteine to produce glutathione.

    Taurine is an amino acid that helps the proper development of the brain and eyes. Taurine cannot be manufactured from other amino acids so its presence in breast milk is significant.

    Another glutathione precursor found in breast milk is glutamic acid in the form of glutamate. Breast milk contains 0.02% glutamate per milliliter (ml). This means that if a baby consumes 1 liter of breast milk per day, he gets 0.2g of glutamate per day.

    Incidentally, glutamate is the most abundant of the 20 amino acids found in mother's milk. It accounts for more than 50% of the total amino acids content.

    A breastfeed baby gets about ten times more glutamate than one who is fed on cow's milk. A breastfeed baby therefore has more glutamate which can be converted to glutathione, the body's master antioxidant.

    And this is also another reason why babies fed with breast milk are healthier, among others.

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    DISCLAIMER: No part of this document is intended to diagnose, treat any disease.