Human Milk vs. Cow’s Milk
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Benefits and disadvantages for the infant
Breast feeding and the Law
Breast feeding in public not too many years ago was considered a taboo. It was unthinkable to breast feed your child in public. Times have changed and so has our understanding on breast feeding. It is no longer a lifestyle choice for women, but a health choice. Some women chose to bottle-feed their children while some insist on breast feeding their children, who is right? Adams (1959), Brown (1960) found that most women who chose to bottle-feed were based on mother-centered reason while mothers who chose to breast-feed tended to do so for the welfare of the baby. This paper will try to address to this issue by looking into the advantages and disadvantages of breast feeding and bottle feeding. This issue of breast-feeding and the law will also be discussed.
BENEFITS AND DISADVANTAGES
I. BREAST FEEDING AND BOTTLE-FEEDING
There are many reasons why a new mother should breast feed her child. The mother’s milk is always ready for the baby. The mother’s milk is always at the right temperature. Therefore, she mother doesn’t have to worry about heating up the formula to a certain temperature. The most important reason for a mother to breast feed her child is that her milk contains antibodies which help protect her child against illness. Koletzko (1989) found that mothers produce antibodies to whatever disease present in their surroundings. Eiger (1972) found that babies have an easier time digesting breast milk than formula. Breast fed babies have fewer constipation problems and are usually less thirsty than formula fed babies because there is a large portion of water in the mother’s milk. Pryor (1973) found that baby fed on formula needs water to enable his kidneys to eliminate the unusable proteins and salts. Eiger (1972) found that babies fed with their mother’s milk develop better jaw alignment and cheekbone structure than bottle fed babies. Cow’s milk has 4 times more calcium than human milk does. Bottle-fed babies are usually bigger and have heavier skeletons than breast-fed babies in the first year. But, bottle-fed babies have to excrete a lot more unused calcium than breast-fed babies do. The mother’s milk is tailored for its babies needs. Human milk contains all of the important nutrients for a baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (1980) recommends breast-feeding recognizes breast milk for an infant because it has the right amount of water, protein, fat, sugar, vitamin and minerals for a perfect diet.
Virtanen (1991) states that human milk has about the same amount of fat as cow’s milk, but human milk has much less saturated fat. It is recommended to use both breasts for feeding, the second breast has a higher calorie dose and less fat than the recently used milk. Mother’s milk has twice the amount of the needed sugar and up to ten times the amount of vitamins as compared to cow’s milk. Carbohydrates must be added to cow’s milk, but since the cow milk has to be diluted, even more carbohydrate must be added. Human milk has the right amount and concentration of everything. Vitamin content varies much according to the diet of the mother, but generally human milk has up to ten times more vitamins than cow milk. “When cow milk is diluted it has 20 times less vitamins than human milk. Due to this, bottle-fed babies should take vitamin supplements and should consume solid foods as early as possible.” Pisacane (1992).
Dallman (1990) states that human milk contains almost no iron, but still contains more iron than cow’s milk. However, breast-fed babies are usually not anemic. They have small storage of iron in their liver. The high levels of vitamin C and E in human milk help make iron available to the baby’s system. In consequence, a breast-fed baby may actually have more iron than a bottle-fed baby that takes iron supplements.
There are many reasons why a new mother should breast-feed her child. The mother’s milk is always ready for the baby. Breast-feeding is less of a hassle than bottle-feeding. Bottle-feeding is sometimes more practical because it can be done in public without any risk of offending anyone. There are also benefits from breast feeding for the mother. Dewey (1993) found that breast feeding requires the mother to exert more energy in a day which help the mother lose her pregnancy weight faster. Uvnas-Moberg (1996) found that when a baby is sucking at the breast of his mother, it causes uterine contractions right after birth. The contractions lead to less bleeding for the mother and help return the uterus to it’s former size much quicker. Horwood (1998) found that breast-fed babies generally have a higher IQ than bottle-fed babies. And finally, breast feeding creates an intimate bond between the mother and child.
The benefits of breast feeding are evident, but there are also some disadvantages. Mothers can experience pain while nursing their child for the first few weeks. The mothers have to buy a new set of clothes that enables her child easy access to her breasts. The baby has to go where the mother goes. The mother may not be able to bring her child to work with her every day. Chua (1994) found that when the baby sucks at the breast, it cause uterine contractions right after birth. the contractions tend to bleed less and help the uterus return to its former size much quicker. Mother’s who breast feed feel an intimate bond with their child. Newcomb (1994) found that breast-feeding helps avoid cancer.
Mckingey (1971) found that breast-feeding is more economical. Even though the mother has to eat more to produce more milk, it is still considerably cheaper than purchasing formula on a regular basis.
Not many medical experts would argue that bottle-feeding is better for a baby than human milk. However, there are advantages to bottle feeding. The father can take part in feeding his child. Which would help the father bond with the infant as found by Sugarman (1985). The mother wouldn’t always have to be taking care of the baby’s feeding. Bottle feeding, unlike breast feeding has no risk of pain to the mother’s breast. Bottle feeding can be done in a public area without risk of offending anyone.
Mayer (1988) found that bottle-fed babies are more susceptible to diseases and illness than breast-fed babies. They are more at risk for developing numerous problems such as constipation, pneumonia, botulism, bronchitis, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, and German measles. Formula does not contain antibodies like human milk does. Ford (1993) found that bottle-fed babies have a higher chance of suddenly dying in their sleep. (SIDS).
BREAST FEEDING AND THE LAW
In 1994, in two separate cases, two women nursing their children were thrown out of public buildings and even threatened that they’d be arrested for indecent exposure. The first woman was nursing her 3 month old in a shopping mall, but was asked to leave by a security guard for exposing part of her breast. The next day, 40 women protested the mall’s actions by nursing in front of the mall. In the second case, a woman was nursing her infant in a museum, but was also asked to leave due to their no eating policy. The next day, 150 women protested in the same manner in front of the museum. Dettwyler (1995).
“There are no laws in the United States that prohibit breast feeding. Indecent exposure is defined as exposure to the nipple and areola.” Dettwyler (1995). Therefore, breast feeding could not really be considered indecent exposure. In 1980, some states modified the indecent exposure statues by excluding breast feeding entirely. In 1995, a number of states created laws to protect a woman’s right to nurse her child. Many argue that it is a mother’s constitutional right to nurse her child in public. It is reassuring to see that people are staring to change their attitudes towards breast feeding. Some see it as incestuous or disgusting behavior because the mother sometimes enjoys nursing her child. Most women find the experience very enjoyable and pleasurable. Some women find nursing to be a big arousing. It is our cultural background which is obsessed with breasts which causes people to think that. Breasts are not only for sexual purposes, the breasts serve a vital role in the development of a newborn. Dettwyler (1995).
With all of the information available to parents today, it is inconceivable for parents of our modern world not to choose breast milk over formula milk. Mothers who chose to bottle-feed usually do so because of mother-centered reason: cannot bring her infant to work, does not like to breast-feed… While mothers who breast-feed their child do so because they are concerned with the health benefits that breast milk offers. Almost all medical doctors and researchers agree that breast-feeding is the best way to feed an infant. A baby needs all the help that he can get to survive in this world, so why not give him that extra help? Breast milk has so many benefits with little disadvantages. Breast feeding is the healthiest choice for an infant. It is the best thing that you can do for your child to give it the best chance of reaching its full potential.
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