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Breastfeeding Essay Sample

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Breastfeeding Essay Sample

There are many choices new parents must make. Many decisions such as what doctor will assist you, what kinds of things you must buy, diapers, childcare and even fun decisions such as what name will you give your baby are among the many things parents must discuss and decide on. A very important question parents must ask is, “How will I decide to feed and nourish my child?” Some new mothers choose to bottle feed with formula and others make the personal decision to naturally feed their new baby by breastfeeding. Research suggests that breastfeeding is more beneficial for a mother and child, because of the immunologic benefits, psychological benefits, positive effects on infant development and also financially. Mother’s milk has been feeding and nourishing infants since the beginning of time. When you hear a breastfeeding mother use the term, “liquid gold”, this is because the mother’s milk is the most natural substance an infant can get and it sometimes takes a lot of hard work to establish a good supply and rhythm.

Scientifically, breastfeeding is known as lactation. Lactation is known as the time period in which a mother secretes milk for her infant. When reading through the history of lactation and the practice of breastfeeding, it is said that women need good health and a large supply to feed her child. It was a law in the Ancient times for citizens to respect breastfeeding women. The Bible contains references that claimed breastfeeding mothers were promised blessing of goodness and kindness. Over the years breastfeeding has changed with parenting trends. What society claims is “normal” plays a huge part in a decline in breastfeeding that has happened in the past. Scientific results of the benefits of breastfeeding have reestablished the normalcy of breastfeeding and the importance to do so (Mark 2001).

In centuries past, there were fewer alternatives for new mothers other than breastfeeding; therefore in times such as the 1900’s it was more common. It is said that during World War II, more women worked outside the home which caused an increase in formula feeding. It is harder for a working mother to keep the supply of milk going when she is away from her child more often without the resources to help keep it up. Today with new research, more available information, professionals and equipment such as breast pumps, it is easier for new mothers to gain knowledge on doing so (Younger 2002).

Today there are many support systems such as lactation consultants, books, online websites and breastfeeding support groups that were not available to breastfeeding mothers years ago. How does breastfeeding work? Breastfeeding is the most natural form of food for an infant baby. In the first stage of lactation, the baby receives the colostrum. It is important to introduce the baby to the breast during the first hour of life. The baby’s suckling instinct is the most intense immediately after birth which helps stimulation (Younger Meek 2002). Colostrum has immunological properties to help protect your baby against any first germs with anti-infective agents that helping against allergic sensitivities. Colostrum also has an acid level and also properties of a laxative to help get the infant’s intestines going and cleaning out the meconium that builds up before birth. The colostrum contains high concentrations of sIgA, secretory immunoglobulin A, which is an anti-infective agent that coats the intestines protecting the infant from allergic sensitivities.

Scientists have also found pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI), which also protects the new baby’s digestive system (Wiessinger, West, & Pitman 2004). Mature mother’s milk comes in anywhere between three days to even a couple weeks. Many breastfeeding mothers feel anxiety during this first stage of breastfeeding, afraid that their baby isn’t getting enough nutrition. However, the baby’s stomach is very small and as long as you have the right amount of wet and dirty diapers, the baby is fine. It is also normal during this time for the baby to lose a little bit of weight which will be monitored by the child’s pediatrician. Breastfeeding works in a supply and demand fashion. The more the baby is suckling the more it tells the body to produce. It is important for the mother to be consistent with feedings and not supplement during the early stages unless suggested by a health care provider. It is suggested that a lactating mother consume 200 to 500 additional calories a day (Mark 2001).

As the baby grow and eats more, the body will continue to produce the amount of milk that is being demanded. It is also very important for the mother to stay hydrated and continue to eat healthy. Formula is the alternative other than breast milk. Many mothers will choose to not breastfeed or will supplement at times with formula. Whether a mother decides to formula feed or breastfeed, infant nutrition during the early stages of development is very important. There are many different kinds of formula that try and match the ingredients that are in mother’s milk. Infant formulas have been modified over the years to improve flavor, increase shelf life and attempt to mirror human breast milk. Manufacturers are often trying to add new ingredients to get the composition of formula to match up. Before the modern times of formula, human milk substitutes have existed. Some women tried substitutes with cow’s milk, goat’s milk and even sheep milk.

By the early twentieth century, it was clear that cow’s milk was the best milk to use, however there were things to be done to it such as removing animal fat, substituting and balancing vitamins and minerals. It is now said that a baby must be a year old before given cows milk and is suggested to be Vitamin D. Therefore, until that age, the chosen supplement is formula. There are important safety issues that manufacturers must follow and demonstrate with making infant formula. Things to be considered include infancy being a very vulnerable period, gastrointestinal as well as renal function, immune function, and brain and behavior systems. Brain and neurological functions could be affected if an infant was exposed to a harmful substance in formula so it is very important to get all ingredients correct and checked for safety (Infant Formula 2004). The difference in breast milk and manufactured formula is that breast milk is 100% natural. Breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is known to be the highest standard of infant nutrition.

Research has shown in testing on pigs that that gene expression profiles in the pigs were different depending on the diet consumed. The study was conducted with neonatal pigs that were breastfed and formula fed (Martin 2011). It is also said that there is a difference in feeding patterns of those that are breastfed and those that are formula fed. Studies show that formula fed infants showed a further decrease in their milk intake at night feedings and higher feeding volumes during the 6th week of life. Shorter gastric emptying times in breastfed babies was also considered in the conclusion that the feeding patterns can be very different than the other. Breast milk tends to be processed thru the infants system faster than formula (Sievers, Oldigs, Santer & Schaub, 2002). The benefits of breastfeeding is also very important for a new mother to consider when deciding to breastfeed or formula feed. Mother’s milk has been proven to benefit a baby’s digestive health. A newborns digestive system is very immature at birth.

Right from the beginning of breastfeeding, human milk encourages good bacteria growth and good development of the infants’ immune system. The early stage of milk, called colostrum has been proven to seal a newborn’s stomach which helps in preventing allergies and or food intolerance. There are also antioxidants in human milk that discourage inflammation while also helping to develop a normal digestive system. These properties of human milk cannot be found in formula or cow’s milk. It is also very important and beneficial for premature babies to be breastfed. It has been said that premature babies who are formula fed take longer to tolerate oral feedings and are more likely to develop enterocolitis and respiratory infections (Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett 2010). Human milk has been proven to provide all the proteins, sugars and fats that an infant needs to be healthy.

An example of the immunological benefits of breastfeeding is in the situation when the breastfeeding mother gets a cold. It is likely the breastfeeding mother could pass on the germs of the cold to her child, however the antibodies that the mother produces to fight the cold will also be passed on thru the mother’s milk. This can help the infant completely miss the chance of even suffering from the cold altogether. Whereas a formula fed baby would not get those antibodies and would most likely suffer from the germs that the mother passes on. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a formula fed baby is two to seven times more likely to suffer from allergies or eczema, three times more likely to suffer from ear infection or gastroenteritis, two times more likely to suffer from SIDS and also one to five times more likely to end up with pneumonia and or lower-respiratory tract infections (Younger Meek 2002). Asthma is also stated by research to be prevented by breastfeeding.

In a study conducted on 2195 Australian children, followed until the age of 6 years old, asthma was associated when breastfeeding was less exclusive. The study concluded that when breastfeeding was exclusive for six months it did reduce the chances of childhood asthma (Oddy, Sherriff, deKlerk & Kendall, 2004). Breastfeeding is also associated in a lower risk for Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. The Multiple Sclerosis Journal states that a study was performed on 245 Berlin MS patients with a questionnaire on their history and breastfeeding during infancy. The study concluded that breastfeeding may be a possible protective factor against MS. Breastfeeding has also been proven to be protective against atopic dermatitis, Crohns disease, and other autoimmune diseases (Conradi, Malzahn, Paul, Quill, Harms, Thenbergh & Rosche, 2013). It is no secret that breastfeeding has a positive impact on infant development.

Breastfeeding can also have a positive result in physical development. During breastfeeding, a baby’s jaws are exercised helping the bones in the face and jaw to develop more fully. In bottle-feeding, the jaw becomes narrower with a higher palate which can restrict nose breathing (Wiessinger, West, & Pitman 2004). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with positive physical development, a number of studies show that IQ scores were higher in those that were breastfed versus those that were formula fed (Younger Meek 2002). Although breastfeeding does not guarantee your child will be perfect, it is proven that breastfeeding does have positive advantages for the infant. The fats from the breast milk are also very important in infant brain development.

A study conducted on 14,660 babies in the United Kingdom claimed that babies who were not breastfed were thirty percent more likely to have gross motor delays at nine months and forty percent likely to be developmentally delayed than babies that were exclusively breastfed for at least four months (Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett 2010). This concludes that breastfeeding does help infants develop stronger learning and developmental skills. Along with developmental benefits, breastfeeding also helps in psychological ways that benefit the mother and the child. The bonding experience that happens between a mother and child is truly amazing. This bonding provides love and security to the infant while creating a unique emotional experience for both mother and child. Some mothers look at breastfeeding as a stressful task while trying to learn how to naturally feed their child.

Breastfeeding problems can be stressful along with caring for a new baby. However, it is proven that breastfeeding can reduce stress by the release of oxytocin during breastfeeding. The skin to skin contact also plays a big factor in this. The release of oxytocin also can decrease aggressiveness and defensive feelings during the postpartum time that can also help a new mother adjust to her new baby. It is also fact that the skin to skin contact also releases oxytocin in a baby’s system, therefore calming the child. The baby’s blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and the warm contact with the mother is pleasurable (Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett 2010). Before the birth, the infant is in a dark womb and then later at birth exposed to bright lights, loud noises and new smells. The comfort of skin to skin contact gives the child the reassurance of the mothers continued presence.

Breastfeeding provides many benefits for the mother as well. Women who breastfeed tend to lose pregnancy weight faster. The release of oxytocin helps to reduce the uterus to normal size and also reduce postpartum bleeding (Younger Meek 2002). Research also shows that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer. There is also a reduced risk in ovarian and cervical cancers as well. Some believe that hormones that are released during breastfeeding may play a key role in cancer prevention (Mark 2001). It has also been stated that women who breastfeed are more likely to promote a healthy lifestyle and refrain from harmful activities such as cigarette smoking. Therefore breastfeeding is beneficial to the mother by encouraging her to stay healthy for her child (Conradi, Malzahn, Paul, Quill, Harms, Thenbergh & Rosche, 2013).

Some women chose to breastfeed for shorter periods of time and some chose to breastfeed for even past one year. The colostrum the baby receives in the first stages is very important while it is also important for other preventative measures to breastfeed at least six months. The duration of breastfeeding is based solely on what the mother and child want. Once things are going smooth, the mother may decide to nurse longer than she originally planned. The World Health Organization and also many pediatric associations advise exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months. Once solid foods are gradually added to the child’s diet, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding for at least two years (Wiessinger, West, & Pitman 2004).

Some mothers chose to breastfeed for an average of one year. At 12 months the child is then old enough to be introduced to Vitamin D, cow’s milk. Many women experience issues with breastfeeding when they return to work. The cause of the issue happens when the mother is not with the child and has to find a place to pump to keep the demand on the supply. There are many things mothers can use to help this such as pumps and storage bags. Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for a few months until the mother needs to use it or supply a daycare provider. It is important for a women’s employer to provide her with time and place to pump. Research shows that breastfeeding breaks are only guaranteed in 130 countries with pay. Health outcomes could be improved by legislation passing laws allowing women to have the right to take the time out for breastfeeding (Heymann, Raub, & Earle, 2013). Although breastfeeding is many times viewed as healthy and natural, there are some people that look at it and feel uncomfortable.

It has been said that breastfeeding education may help normalize breastfeeding in society and help new moms as well as others feel more comfortable with public breastfeeding. If breastfeeding stations were more common this could also help prevent any uncomfortable feelings by giving the mother a private place to do so. A study was done in which breastfeeding mothers were asked their feelings on public breastfeeding and most responded with feelings of self-consciousness to public reaction (Marsden & Abayomi 2012). Therefore if workplaces and public places helped in promoting private areas for breastfeeding, this issue could be solved and breastfeeding would be promoted by making it easier.

The positive financial effect of breastfeeding is what some new parents enjoy just as much as the health benefits. Manufactured formula is expensive. The average family in the United States spends between $1,500 and $2,000 each year on milk substitutes. Therefore by breastfeeding the new baby, you are benefiting in more ways than one. Not only do parents that choose breastfeeding have less expense with buying formula, it is also said they have less medical bills and less time taken off work for trips to the doctor due to good health and nutrition in the child and mother (Mark 2001). However, some researchers believe mothers who exclusively breastfeed for longer can suffer a decline in the income she brings in, thus making breastfeeding not as cost free as it seems. Long duration breast feeders were found to be non-employed during the first year following childbirth than others. This research also states that it is possible breastfeeding and becoming a mother changes a women’s attitude towards work and family life making a career less attractive (Rippeyoung, n.d).

In conclusion, although formula feeding is studied and claimed to be a safe alternative, there is no better nutrition than that of mother’s milk. Since the beginning of time, breastfeeding has been the main source of nutrition for infants. Although trends have changed through the years, it is still heavily promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and by many healthcare providers around the world. With the beginning stages such as colostrum, breast milk is tested and proven to have many properties, anti-infective agents and antibodies to help develop infant digestive systems, brain development, and physical development and also prevent illnesses such as asthma and allergies. Breastfeeding is also proven to help strengthen the mother and child bond, while also having positive postpartum benefits on the mother including lowering risk for several different cancers. It is proven that the longer length of time a mother breastfeeds, the stronger the benefits are to the new baby.

As time goes on there is hope that breastfeeding will become the normal which will hopefully encourage more mothers to do so and not be so self-conscious about it in public places and the workplace. Although some believe breastfeeding can cause a decrease in income in the mother, many believe it saves the family money by preventing milk substitution costs such as formula and doctor visits. Breastfeeding has evolved and changed throughout the years and with more education on the subject, it will hopefully continue to rise and be promoted as the healthiest most natural way of feeding a newborn baby.

Younger Meek, Joan (2002). New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding New York: Bantam Books

Wiessinger, D., West, D., Pitman, T. (2004). The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (rev. 8th ed.). New York, NY: Ballantine Books
Mark, Anne P. (2001). The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books

Mohrbacher, N., Kendall-Tackett, K. (2010). Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA:

New Harbinger Publications, Inc..

Heymann, J., Raub, A., & Earle, A. (2013). Breastfeeding policy: a globally comparative analysis. Bulletin Of The World Health Organization, 91(6), 398-406. doi:10.2471/BLT.12.109363

Marsden, A., & Abayomi, J. (2012). Attitudes of employees working in public places toward breastfeeding. British Journal Of Midwifery, 20(4), 271-277.

Sievers, E., Oldigs, H., Santer, R., & Schaub, J. (2002). Feeding patterns in breast-fed and formula-fed infants. Annals Of Nutrition & Metabolism, 46(6), 243-248

Oddy, W. H., Sherriff, J. L., de Klerk, N.,H., Kendall, G. E., & al, e. (2004). The relation of breastfeeding and body mass index to asthma and atopy in children: A prospective cohort study to age 6 years. American Journal of Public Health, 94(9), 1531-7. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/215091735?accountid=42542

Conradi, S., Malzahn, U., Paul, F., Quill, S., Harms, L., Then Bergh, F., & … Rosche, B. (2013). Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk for multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 19(5), 553-558. doi:10.1177/1352458512459683 Rippeyoung, P. (n.d). Is Breastfeeding Truly Cost Free? Income Consequences of Breastfeeding for Women. vol. 77, no. 2 (Apr 2012), p. 244-267

Martin J. J., R. (2011). Formula feeding alters hepatic gene expression signature, iron and cholesterol homeostasis in the neonatal pig. Physiological Genomics, 43(23), 1281- 1293.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.), Committee on the Evaluation of the Addition of Ingredients New to Infant Formula Staff (2004). Infant Formula: Evaluating the Safety of New Ingredients.Washington DC, USA,: National Academies Press.

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