On January 15, 2008 my oldest daughter enjoyed her last drink of milk from the tap. Just a month and a 1/2 shy of her 3rd birthday, how time flies. It’s been one week today since she has weaned and we are both adjusting well. I think this process has been easier for me than I expected it to be because I am still nursing her 6 month old sister. Had I just stopped breastfeeding altogether I am sure that the resounding feelings would have been much different from the hormonal shift of no longer nursing. Many mothers go through a type of depression almost when they wean. Luckily for me, I still got a babe on the boob and I am feeling great.
I think the adjustment has gone well for my oldest daughter because she was closer to being ready to wean than I ever could have guessed. She was only nursing for her nap (1x a day at my limitation) and has asked at nap time to nurse everyday this past week but accepts my playful response of, “No way Jose’, you drank it all!”
Tandem nursing was quite an experience and if given the opportunity to do it again I absolutely would. I’ll never forget how grateful I was to have my toddler in those early weeks postpartum when engorgement was so uncomfortable (and messy!). I think continuing to nurse my 2 year old after the birth of her sister allowed my daughters to bond in a way that I just can’t really explain. And it allowed me to bond with my girls in a way that I’ll always remember.
As it stands I’ve I got quite a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance from the weaning and the baby has been a bit gassy with neon green poos from too much foremilk. I didn’t realize how much milk my toddler was getting until she weaned. I can seriously pump 5oz of milk at the previously scheduled nursing for her AFTER the baby nurses! On the up side, my big girl thinks it’s cool that I can pump my milk and enjoys drinking it from a cup just as much as she did from the tap. So I can still get that liquid gold into her day in and day out. Plus, I can build a stash in the freezer for the baby in case, Lord willing my hubby and I ever get a night out without our girls!
For more information on the many benefits of nursing past one year of age, read HERE.
What is in formula?
Most infant formula comes from cow’s milk (the exception is soy formula), but a lot has to happen before it goes from the cow to the can and, ultimately, babies. The short, blunt version is that the manufacturing process literally takes cow’s milk apart and puts it back together again with some components left out and others added.
Cow’s milk is very high in saturated fat, which human babies have trouble digesting, and low in monounsaturates, the main fats in human milk. So the first step is to remove all the fat. The resulting skim milk is heated, then dehydrated if it’s going to be in powdered form. Then new fats, in the form of vegetable oil blends, are added along with proteins, milk sugar (lactose) and a long list of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are required by federal regulation to approximate their levels in breastmilk.
Cow’s milk has three times as much protein as breastmilk. Calves need this because they grow so quickly, but for human babies it would put too much of a load on the liver and kidneys. Cow’s milk also has a higher proportion of casein to whey — the two kinds of proteins in mammal milks — than breastmilk does. So formula manufacturers must reduce the overall amount of protein and add extra whey to mimic the protein balance found in breastmilk.
Other ingredients prevent the mixture from separating or going bad. Some formulas have thickeners, and specialized formulas for premature babies have enhanced levels of nutrients. Any newly developed formula must meet a number of safety and nutritional standards, including clinical evidence that it is nutritionally adequate to promote normal growth.
What’s not in formula?
Human milk is a complex substance which, even now, is not fully understood. The list of known breastmilk components not present in formula is too long to go into fully and includes enzymes, hormones, growth factors and substances that fight infection and help develop the immune system.
Simply put, human milk is alive, says James Friel, professor of human nutrition at the University of Manitoba. “Some components are biologically active. They play a role that goes far beyond nutrition,” he explains. “For example, if you put an oxidant stressor — something like cigarette smoke — in breastmilk, it resists the stressor, and breastmilk does this better than formula even though formula contains more antioxidants. That strikes me as odd and I wish I understood it better.” Friel thinks it might one day be possible to add biologically active material to formula, but doesn’t expect to see this any time soon.
One important biologically active component of human milk is a protein called secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), which has the ability to bind to foreign substances (including harmful bacteria) so they can be eliminated from the body. It lines the wall of the gut, which is one of the main entry points for infection. Colostrum, the thicker milk that a mother’s body produces in the first few days, is especially high in sIgA.
Formula contains these little fighters as well, although they’re less plentiful and they’re bovine (cow) immunglobulins which are programmed to recognize micro-organisms that cause disease in cattle rather than humans, and operate in the bloodstream rather than the gut. Bottle-fed babies still develop immune systems, obviously, but they miss out on some of the early and long-term protection provided by sIgA.
The most immediate threat from lack of sIgA is during the first weeks of life, when a baby’s gut is vulnerable to infection. Advances in hygiene and sanitation, plus ready access to treatment, have made life-threatening gastrointestinal infections rare in Canadian babies. But they still cause considerable illness and many infant deaths in the developing world, where powdered formula is sometimes mixed with contaminated water.
Another biological capability, present in breastmilk but not formula, is the ability to alter itself. Breastmilk changes, both as the baby grows and during each feeding. Foremilk, which is produced at the start of each feeding, is relatively low in fat. As the baby sucks, the level of fat rises, satisfying him and lulling him into that blissful state a nursing mom loves to see. The fat levels of human milk also change in the baby’s second six months, when his growth rate slows. In recent years new formulas, called follow-up formulas, have been designed to more closely match some of the nutritional needs of an older baby.
How close is formula to breastmilk?
Both are milks that can sustain fledgling human life, but the similarity ends there. Nutrients in a man-made substance do not work the same way as they do in a naturally occurring substance. As dietitian Cristine Bradley, senior manager of medical affairs for Indiana-based formula maker Mead Johnson, puts it: “Compositionally, I’d call it apples to apples but functionally, it’s apples to oranges in many ways.”
A couple of examples: Iron was added to formula in the 1980s. However, the iron in formula is not nearly as well absorbed as that in breastmilk, so formula must contain considerably more for a baby to get the same amount.
Another example is nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA and RNA and help strengthen the immune system. After they were added to formula in the ’90s, Bradley says, the expected immunity benefit was not borne out. “There was some excitement about this for a while, but after inconsistent research findings it was generally agreed that this was not as promising as we first thought.”
What are they doing to improve formula?
Although formula is still fundamentally different from human milk, several significant improvements have been made in the past 30 years, including fine-tuning to improve the balance of proteins and the blend of fats. Manufacturers have added new varieties, including lactose-free formulas, special formulas for premature and ill babies, and hydrolyzed formulas with predigested protein, for infants with digestion problems.
The most recent innovation is the addition of two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid). Both play a key role in brain development and it has been theorized, though never proven, that the presence of DHA and ARA in breastmilk may explain why breastfed babies score higher than formula-fed babies on toddler mental development tests.
This past winter Canadian babies got their first taste of formula with DHA and ARA (made from algae and fungus, respectively). The question is, will these additives make formula-fed children smarter, as the “A+” in one product’s name implies?
Sheila Innis, a professor of paediatric nutrition at the University of British Columbia, says the clinical research is mixed. “I would be very cautious about making that statement for a healthy full-term baby. In one small study, 18-month-old babies fed formula with DHA and ARA scored higher as a group than babies fed standard formula, but four other larger studies showed no difference. The evidence is much clearer for premature babies, who are born without stores of these and other nutrients.”
What are the risks associated with formula?
There are risks associated with formula feeding. To help mitigate them, parents need to fully understand them.
Improper mixing: Formula should be mixed exactly according to directions. Some parents have made mistakes, sometimes because of literacy or language problems. Some have over-diluted powdered formula, which can lead to malnutrition, or failed to properly dilute concentrated liquid formula, sometimes in a misguided attempt to increase nutrients. The result can be dehydration and kidney problems.
Contamination: Formula manufacturers say their quality control and product safety are the tightest in the food industry. Still, any man-made food carries the risk of contamination. In recent years there have been several small, isolated outbreaks of serious illness and a few deaths (mostly premature babies or those with immune problems) caused by a bacterium called E. sakazakii which was found to have come from powdered formula. (The outbreaks prompted Health Canada to recommend liquid formula — which is less likely than powder to be contaminated — for bottle-fed babies who are immuno-compromised or in intensive care.)
The take-home message is that powdered infant formula is not a sterile product and must be handled and stored properly. Dawn Walker, a nurse and former executive director of the Canadian Institute of Child Health, says that one of the most common infant feeding questions she hears is, “Can I reheat formula?” “The answer is no,” Walker says. “Once formula has been warmed up for use, if you reheat it, bacteria growth increases exponentially. It’s very risky.”
Illness: Statistically, formula-fed babies are more likely to get colds, ear infections, milk allergies, diarrhea, urinary tract infections and bacterial meningitis. How much more likely? That’s hard to say. Obviously, few babies (formula fed or not) get meningitis, so the risk is very low to begin with. With more common illnesses like ear infections, other factors also increase the risk — such as whether mom smokes or the child is in group daycare. One large study of two- to seven-month-old babies found that the risk of ear infection increased with the proportion of formula in the child’s diet; those fed entirely on formula were twice as likely (13.2 percent) as those who breastfed exclusively (6.8 percent) to have had an ear infection in the past month.
Bottle-fed infants are also at greater risk for becoming overweight; they grow and gain weight more quickly and, on average, are less lean than breastfed babies. One large German study of five- and six-year-olds found a 4.5 percent rate of obesity among those who had been bottle-fed, compared with 2.8 percent for breastfed children. Since it’s mom or dad who decides how much goes in the bottle and when, a formula-fed baby may not learn to read his body’s signals as easily as one who nurses on demand. Stephanie Atkinson, professor of nutrition in paediatrics at McMaster University, comments, “I’m concerned that there may be some kind of metabolic programming going on that may explain the increased rates of obesity in formula-fed children.”
Another concern is that formula-fed children may face an increased risk for developing Type 1 diabetes. Some studies have found a higher incidence in children who were exclusively formula-fed or who were breastfed for less than three months. Other research has found that early exposure to cow’s milk increases the likelihood of developing a type of antibody that can be found in children with diabetes. No clear link has been established, but a major ten-year international study was launched in 2002 to compare the rates of Type 1 diabetes in babies fed standard formula versus those fed hydrolyzed formula.
When you add up all the risk factors, it sounds daunting. However, trying to predict the likelihood that any one child will get any one illness is impossible. Likewise, lower risk is no guarantee; some breastfed babies get ear infections and some bottle-fed babies don’t. And let’s face it: There are a lot of healthy adults walking around who were raised on formula.
If we look at formula as a medical intervention, a way to nourish a baby when breastmilk is not available, it stands up fairly well. The problem is that this substitute became a competitor. And formula simply can’t compete with human milk. Here’s how James Friel views it: “We’ve been making formula for over 100 years and I’ve spent 20 years of my life trying to make formula better. All the people I’ve dealt with in the industry are honest, hard-working and dedicated. In spite of that, we are still unable to make formula that comes very close to human milk and, for me, that’s a disappointment. We try to break human milk down into its components and put it back together again, but it really doesn’t work that way.”
Formula’s greatest achievement may be that, although it still doesn’t really compare to human milk, it has become a reasonably safe substitute that has improved over the years. Perhaps that is all it ever can be.
This is for the moms who use artificial baby milk instead of breastmilk to feed their babies and for some reason take offense to my bulletins, blogs, etc. Sometimes the truth hurts. But I am NOT trying to pick a fight, I am trying to educate women about the health and welfare of their babies!!!
I am surprised that people have chosen to take such offense about an obvious truth, breast IS BEST. I never once made any type of claim to be better than anyone because I breastfeed. All mothers do what they think is best and that is the best we can do. No one is perfect, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not :) If reading the facts about breastfeeding is that upsetting for you then you should probably shield yourself from the truth to prevent further upset. You also should probably stop reading my blog, bulletins, etc. because I am a breastfeeding counselor and advocate. You can simply remove me from your friends list, blog roll, or whatever so you won’t even be tempted.
I never said that breastfeeding was the only acceptable way to feed a baby. For me, yes, it is the only acceptable way, but I want to do what is healthiest and natural for my child. If other mothers choose to use artificial baby milk then sobeit. To each his own. I simply state facts. I am not on any type of “high horse.” I think that the lack of breastfeeding education and support in our country is what has led to such a decline in breastfeeding initiation rates so I make every attempt to put out the good word about breastfeeding everywhere I can! I have a lot of childless friends and MANY have replied to me with thanks for all the articles and information I put out there. I am sorry that you don’t feel this information is of any benefit to you. But I see this as no reason to attack me.
In addition to this – I don’t make anyone feel anything. We are all adults here and chose how we respond to certain situations. If someone feels bad, they choose to feel bad. I think it’s great that you think I have some kind of magical power to control how other people feel, but unfortunately I don’t. If I did, I would make sure everyone cared enough to do the research about all the health risks involved with formula feeding. It’s a fact, there are in fact very many things wrong with infant formula in comparison to breastmilk. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends that babies receive artificial baby milk as the FOURTH option for food.
#1.Breastmilk via the mothers breast
#2.Expressed bm in a bottle from the mother
#3.Banked bm from a donor
#4.Artificial baby milk.
This not something that I made up to create controversy on the subject. Breastfeeding is the healthiest and best choice for babies. There are no questions about it. Will a child survive on artificial milk? Certainly! But are there risks involved? Absolutely! And is it 100% safe? Absolutely NOT! Do a little research before you state your opinions as fact.
Me stating facts about the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks associated with formula feeding have NOTHING to to with postpartum depression. And as far as postpartum depression goes, guess what? You’re gonna LOVE this! Breastfeeding helps with that too!
See article here
In the future, try to refrain from lashing out at someone who is simply stating facts on a subject that upsets you. I seriously have done nothing wrong here. I am only trying to help educate and promote breastfeeding.
Love, peace and breastfeeding,
Women who breastfeed are constantly indecently exposing themselves. It really is quite offensive and someone should make it stop.
Look at this gal, did the modesty gene skip her?
Wait…Well, this is a bad example. Let’s try again.
Hmm…Just a minute. I’m sure I can find better ones than these…
Eh, still not offensive enough. I’ll check one more time.
That is better. LOOK AT THAT! I see about a half inch of boob. DISGUSTING.
UGH. Look at that indecency! She must be from some third world country to be exposed like that!
Now that’s just…There are no words to describe how inappropriate that is. Something needs to be done!
But why stop at breastfeeding women? There are boobs everywhere. Beware! If you thought the above photos were offensive, you WILL DEFINITELY be offended by the photos below.
Not this one, though. This one was in plain view on news stands and in mail boxes in 19 countries world wide!
Not this one, either. This one actually won an award!
Oh, and I guess this one is fine too. Everyone knows you can’t sell jeans without someone being topless.
Or movie tickets.
You know something just isn’t right with the world when the first series of photos are seen as offensive yet the second series are applauded and paraded around the country for all the world to see.
Which message is healthier?
Breastfeeding which is medically approved to give HUMANS the best start in life. . . or
Which would you rather your daughter live up to?
If you think women have the right to breastfeed their children no matter where they are, please re-post this. Let’s support mothers in the most important health choice they make for their baby! Breastfed babies have lower instances of obesity, asthma, allergies, certain childhood diseases, learning disabilities, and other health problems. For each woman who feels like she shouldn’t be breastfeeding right where she is, there is an innocent baby who is losing out. Breasts were put there for a reason. And as pretty as they may be to some, their original purpose was intended for the sustenance of our young. Support breastfed babies and their right to eat in public like the rest of us.
If you loved this post, then you’ll love THIS!
The fifth image on this blog is courtesy of Imagery by Saci: Model Deshaine with son Jet.
Okay Mamas…Here’s my challenge to you!
For all who are reluctant to NIP even though it’s your God given right and even if you don’t believe in God, it ain’t against the law so get hip with it. You are paving the road for our daughters to NIP as well! I challenge you to make a list of 5 places you are hesitant/reluctant/afraid to nurse in public.
Next, I want you to go there and DO IT!! And post to us all about how friggin’ liberating it was! Be sure to send this link to your mama friends!
Dr. Seuss for Nursing Moms
Would you nurse her in the park?
Would you nurse him in the dark?
Would you nurse him with a Boppy?
And when your boobs are feeling floppy?
I would nurse him in the park,
I would nurse her in the dark.
I’d nurse with or without a Boppy.
Floppy boobs will never stop me.
Can you nurse with your seat belt on?
Can you nurse from dusk till dawn?
Though she may pinch me, bite me, pull,
I will nurse her `till she’s full!
Can you nurse and make some soup?
Can you nurse and feed the group?
It makes her healthy strong and smart,
Mommy’s milk is the best start!
Would you nurse him at the game?
Would you nurse her in the rain?
In front of those who dare complain?
I would nurse him at the game.
I would nurse her in the rain.
As for those who protest lactation,
I have the perfect explanation.
Mommy’s milk is tailor made
It’s the perfect food, you need no aid.
Some may scoff and some may wriggle,
Avert their eyes or even giggle.
To those who can be cruel and rude,
Remind them breast’s the perfect food!
I would never scoff or giggle,
Roll my eyes or even wiggle!
I would not be so crass or crude,
I KNOW that this milk’s the perfect food!
We make the amount we need
The perfect temp for every feed.
There’s no compare to milk from breast-
The perfect food, above the rest.
Those sweet nursing smiles are oh so sweet,
Mommy’s milk is such a treat.
Human milk just can’t be beat.
I will nurse, in any case,
On the street or in your face.
I will not let my baby cry,
I’ll meet her needs, I’ll always try.
It’s not about what’s good for you,
It’s best for babies, through and through.
I will nurse her in my home,
I will nurse her when I roam.
Leave me be lads and ma’am.
I will nurse her, Mom I am.
Tara…tandem nursin’, co-sleepin’, babywearin’, non-vaxin’, homebirthin’, cloth diaperin’, earth conscious, full-time student, wife to Kristopher &
Mama to my still nursin’ fire cracker Trinity Jade &
my home birthed water baby Journey MaeAnn
How incredibly amazing! I think it it truly wonderful that our country is finally recognizing the dangers behind supplementing with non human milk. I feel it is vital that all babies, especially premature babies receive mothers milk and now mothers of preemies don’t have to hear the funk about how their milk doesn’t have enough protein to help the at risk child. It’s actually more important that preemies receive their mothers milk because they are at risk. And hopefully soon there will be no more instances of mothers walking into the NICU to see their child being artificially fed because they weren’t “making enough milk” or because the caloric value wasn’t great enough for the child. The breastfeeding community now has more support and recognition…now everyone else needs to jump on the wagon and support this health related issue.