Birthowl’s natural childbirth

Advantages and Benefits of Breastfeeding
  1. Saves Lives. Currently there are 9 million infant deaths a year. Breastfeeding saves an estimated 6 million additional deaths from infectious disease alone.
  2. Provides Initial Immunization. Breastmilk, especially the first milk (colostrum), contains anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents that protect the infant against disease, especially diarrhoea. These are not present in animal milk or formula. Breastmilk also aids the development of the infant’s own immune system.
  3. Prevents Diarrhoea / Diarrhea. Diarrhoea is the leading cause of death among infants in developing countries. Infants under two months of age who are not breastfed are 25 times as likely to die of diarrhea than infants exclusively breastfed. Continued breastfeeding during diarrhea reduces dehydration, severity, duration, and negative nutritional consequences of diarrhea.
  4. Provides Complete and Perfect Nutrition. Breastmilk is a perfect food that cannot be duplicated. It is more easily digested than any substitute, and it actually alters in composition to meet the changing nutritional needs of the growing infant. It provides all the nutrients and water needed by a healthy infant during the first 6 months of life. Formula or cow’s milk may be too dilute (which reduces its nutritional value) or too concentrated (so that it does not provide enough water), and the proportions of different nutrients are not ideal.
  5. Maximizes a Child’s Physical and Intellectual Potential. Malnutrition among infants up to six months of age can be virtually eradicated by the practice of exclusive breastfeeding. For young children beyond six months, breastmilk serves as the nutritional foundation to promote continued healthful growth. Premature infants fed breastmilk show higher developmental scores as toddlers and higher IQs as children than those not fed breastmilk.
  6. Promotes the Recovery of the Sick Child. Breastfeeding provides a nutritious, easily digestible food when a sick child loses appetite for other foods. When a child is ill or has diarrhea, breastfeeding helps prevent dehydration. Frequent breastfeeding also diminishes the risk of malnutrition and fosters catch-up growth following illness.
  7. Supports Food Security. Breastmilk provides total food security for an infant’s first six months. It maximizes food resources, both because it is naturally renewing, and because food that would otherwise be fed to an infant can be given to others. A mother’s milk supply adjusts to demand; only extremely malnourished mothers have a reduced capacity to breastfeed.
  8. Bonds Mother and Child. Breastfeeding immediately after delivery encourages the “bonding” of the mother to her infant, which has important emotional benefits for both and helps to secure the child’s place within the family. Breastfeeding provides physiological and psychological benefits for both mother and child. It creates emotional bonds, and has been known to reduce rates of infant abandonment.
  9. Helps Birth Spacing. In developing countries, exclusive breastfeeding reduces total potential fertility as much as all other modern contraceptive methods combined. Mothers who breastfeed usually have a longer period of infertility after giving birth than do mothers who do not breastfeed.
  10. Benefits Maternal Health. Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of fatal postpartum hemorrhage, the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and of anemia. By spacing births, breastfeeding allows the mother to recuperate before she conceives again.
  11. Saves Money. Breastfeeding is among the most cost-effective of child survival interventions. Households save money; and institutions economize by reducing the need for bottles and formulas. By shortening mothers’ hospital stay, nations save foreign exchange. There are none of the expenses associated with feeding breastmilk substitutes (e.g. the costs of fuel, utensils, and special formulas, and of the mother’s time in formula preparation).
  12. Is Environment-friendly. Breastfeeding does not waste scarce resources or create pollution. Breastmilk is a naturally-renewable resource that requires no packaging, shipping, or disposal.
  13. Breastfeeding is Clean. It does not require the use of bottles, nipples, water and formula which are easily contaminated with bacteria that can cause diarrhoea.
  14. Milk intolerance is very rare in infants who take only breastmilk.
Photo by Tony Ocado


Enhancing milk supply naturally

Anxiety over milk supply
Breast milk is made on demand. The more often a baby feeds, the more milk will be produced. If breast-feeding sessions are frequent and long enough, the milk supply will rarely be inadequate. Parents can be reassured that their infants are receiving enough milk if they have six or more wet diapers a day while exclusively breast-feeding. If a parent still feels anxious about the adequacy of the nourishment provided by breast-feeding alone, weekly weighing may allay fears. A weight gain of 0.38 pound (190 grams) per week is evidence of sufficient nourishment and growth.

Some low-birth-weight infants will require intensive care and ventilation in the hospital. Mothers of these infants often have difficulty continuing to produce breast milk. These mothers must rely on expressing breast milk manually because their babies cannot effectively breast-feed. Pumping milk is much less efficient than breast-feeding. Due to the inadequacy of pumping milk, milk production can decline. In low-birth-weight infants in an intensive care setting, skin-to-skin holding over a four-week period postpartum has increased a mother’s milk supply.88

In contrast, women who did not participate in skin-to-skin holding of their low-birth-weight infants did not experience an increase in milk production. These findings may have implications for all mothers experiencing a diminishing milk supply. In addition, some doctors will prescribe a day of rest to busy mothers whose milk supply seems to be lessening.89 Spending a day in close and relaxed contact with one’s newborn, with its associated increase in frequency of feedings, can effectively increasing milk supply.

Stress and fatigue can greatly inhibit the let-down reflex, lessening the production of milk. In a clinical trial involving mothers of premature infants, mothers who listened to an audiocassette tape based on relaxation and imagery techniques increased milk production by more than 60%, compared with mothers not listening to the tape.90 Whether relaxation techniques would increase milk supply in the mothers of full-term infants is not known.

Latching On

When Latching
by Anne J. Barnes

Getting Started

  • Push baby’s bottom into your body with the side (the side of your baby finger) of your forearm
    • This will bring him towards your breast with the nipple pointing to the roof of his mouth
  • Mother’s hand under the baby’s face, palm up
  • Head supported but NOT pushed in against breast
  • Head tilted back slightly
  • Baby’s body and legs wrapped in around mother
  • Use your whole arm to bring the baby onto the breast, when mouth wide
    • Chin and lower jaw touch breast first
  • WATCH LOWER LIP, aim it as far from base of nipple as possible, so tongue draws lots of breast into mouth
  • Move baby’s body and head together – keep baby uncurled
  • Once latched, top lip will be close to nipple, areola shows above lip. Keep chin close against breast

Mother’s View While Latching Baby

Need mouth wide before baby moved onto breast. Teach baby to open wide/gape :

  • Move baby toward breast, touch top lip against nipple
  • Move mouth away SLIGHTLY
  • Touch top lip against nipple again, move away again
  • Repeat until baby opens wide and has tongue forward
  • Or, better yet, run nipple along the baby’s upper lip, from one corner to the other, lightly, until baby opens wide

Mother’s View While Latching Baby

Move baby, not breast!

Mother’s View of Nursing Baby

Recommendations for the Mother

Mother’s posture
  • Sit with straight, well-supported back
  • Trunk facing forwards, lap flat
  • Support breast and firm inner breast tissue by raising breast slightly with fingers placed flat on chest wall and thumb pointing up (if helpful, also use sling of tensor bandage around breast)
Baby’s position before feed begins
  • On pillow can be helpful
  • Nipple points to the baby’s upper lip or nostril
  • <DL>
    Baby’s body placed not quite tummy to tummy, but so that baby comes up to breast from below and baby’s upper eye makes eye contact with mother’s.


Entice baby to gape
  • Baby’s head and shoulders supported so head extends slightly as baby moved to breast
  • Touch baby’s top lip to nipple and move baby away slightly and repeat until baby opens wide with tongue forward
Move baby quickly on to breast
  • Head tilted back slightly, pushing in across shoulders so chin and lower jaw make first contact (not nose) while mouth still wide open
  • Keep baby uncurled (means tongue nearer breast)
  • Lower lip is aimed as far from nipple as possible so baby’s tongue draws in maximum amount of breast tissue


Mother needs to avoid
  • Pushing her breast across her body
  • Chasing the baby with her breast
  • Flapping the breast up and down
  • Holding breast with scissor grip
  • Not supporting breast
  • Twisting her body towards the baby instead of slightly away
  • Aiming nipple to center of baby’s mouth
  • Pulling baby’s chin down to open mouth
  • Flexing baby’s head as is brought to breast
  • Moving breast into baby’s mouth instead of bringing baby to breast
  • Moving baby onto breast without a proper gape
  • Not moving baby onto breast quickly enough at height of gape
  • Having baby’s nose touch breast first and not the chin
  • Holding breast away for baby’s nose (not necessary if the baby is well latched on, as the nose will be away from the breast anyway)

When Latching, by Anne J. Barnes is excerpted from Bestfeeding: Getting Breastfeeding Right For You by M Renfrew, C Fisher,

Scientifically recognized benefits of breastfeeding

What are some of the scientifically recognized benefits of breastfeeding?

1.  Breastmilk has biological specificity.  No two mothers make the same milk. Your milk is custom designed for your baby.  The specific need for human babies is for brain growth.  God designed human milk to contain nutrients that promote brain growth.  Breastfed infants score an average of 8.3 points higher on IQ tests administered at age seven to 8.5; the studies show that the more human breastmilk they received, the higher the IQ.

2.  Human breastmilk is designed so that the baby’s body can totally utilize it – little is wasted.  Contrast the bowel movements of breastfed and formula-fed infants.   Formula- fed infants expel more smelly, solid waste. Their bodies are not able to fully utilize all the ingredients of the formula.

3.  Protection against disease.  Breastmilk contains white blood cells which destroy harmful bacteria in the baby’s intestines, and antibodies which kill germs and increase the baby’s immunity.  Colostrum, the first milk your baby receives, contains the highest levels of these protectants.

4.  Colostrum protects the baby’s immature digestive tract.  When a baby is born, his digestive tract is sterile.  It contains no bacteria at all, and the walls of the intestines let virtually anything through into the bloodstream. This condition sets the child up for potential allergies, because foreign substances which pass into the bloodstream get targeted by the immune system, and the infant’s body begins to manufacture  antibodies against that substance.  In other words, many of  the ingredients in infant formula which are not present in breastmilk pass directly into the baby’s blood stream and cause him to produce antibodies.  Whenever those substances are introduced into his body again, he will develop an allergic reaction based upon the antibodies in his blood.  Colostrum coats the lining of the intestines, which helps prevent foreign substances from passing through the intestinal walls into the blood stream.

5.  Women who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast cancer.

6.  Breastfeeding helps Mom get back in shape after pregnancy.  Part of the fat layer which pregnant women put on is specifically for the purpose of supporting lactation after pregnancy.  If you don’t breastfeed, that fat doesn’t come off as easily.

7.  Breastfeeding releases the hormone prolactin into the mother’s system, which is a natural relaxant.

8.  Breastmilk contains epidermal growth factors (EGF) which enhance the growth of these cells in the lining of the intestinal tract.

9.  Breastfed babies are well-disciplined.  According to Dr. William Sears (1993), Pediatrician and attachment parenting  expert, “A baby who is on the receiving end of nature’s best nurturing learns trust, and the right feeling that goes with it.  The mutual sensitivity that both members of the breastfeeding pair have for each other helps both behave better.”

10.  Breastfeeding encourages proper facial and dental development.

11. Mother’s milk contains beta-lactose, which favors the growth of acidophilus and bifidus bacteria, break down carbohydrates,  inhibit growth of yeast, help form natural antibiotics and anti-carcinogins, and produce some of the B vitamins.  Cow’s milk (and cow’s milk formulas), contain alpha-lactose, which does not promote these beneficial effects.

12. Because breastmilk is so easily digested, breastfed babies wake up more frequently at night.  This frequent night waking is extremely beneficial for both health reasons and developmental reasons.  Babies wake up because they are easily aroused from light sleep.  This light sleep state makes it easier to communicate their survival needs.  When baby needs to eat,  needs warmth, or needs you to remove breathing obstructions,  he will be able to easily wake up and let you know something is wrong.  Also, babies’ brains grow rapidly during the first year of life.  During light sleep states, babies’ higher brain functions remain “turned on” whereas during deep sleep they are switched off and only the lower brain functions remain in operation.  The more time a baby spends in light sleep, the better the brain development of higher brain functions should  be.  When babies spend more time in light sleep, or REM, they are also more likely to awaken frequently.  When babies are formula-fed, this alters their sleep behavior so that they do not spend as much time in light sleep.


13. Breastfeeding is easier than bottle-feeding: no water to boil, no bottles to sterilize, no formula to buy, no warming before baby can drink it, no refrigeration required, no need to listen to baby cry while bottle is prepared, no chance that it will be too hot.

There is no human formula that will ever be made that is as healthy as breastmilk.  There is no way of feeding a baby which promotes attachment as well.

Many people cannot understand this statement.  They say, “I don’t know why you say that bottle-feeding isn’t as good as breastfeeding.  The baby doesn’t know the difference.  He only knows he was hungry, and now he’s full.  Even though he doesn’t know the difference between formula and breastmilk, he knows that Mom met his needs.  That’s all that matters.  He’s still being held, still being touched, still looking into the eyes of the person who’s feeding him.  The bottle doesn’t really make that much difference.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with any of the above statements.  First of all, babies definitely know the difference between breastmilk and formula.  They smell differently, taste differently, and babies feel differently after drinking them.  Babies who are formula-fed have more digestive upsets, more constipation, and more ear infections and allergies.  Breastfed babies definitely have more of a feeling of well-being simply because they don’t have these digestive upsets.

Secondly, there is a whole sensory experience that goes along with breastfeeding which is lacking in the bottle-feeding experience.  Babies who breastfeed are skin-to-skin with their mothers, and there are many benefits of skin-to-skin contact and which are desperately needed.   It is a fact that breastfed babies spend more time in mothers’ arms.  How often have I seen babies lying in cribs or infant carriers with bottles propped up on pillows so Mom could do something else while baby eats.  Because breastfed babies are held more, they get more eye contact. When a mother breastfeeds, this is a deeply intimate experience.  She drinks in her baby with her eyes as the baby drinks in her milk.  There is a connection there, as if they are one.  There is a distance between the bottle-fed baby and the mother, one that can’t be avoided.  When I have shown pictures of nursing mothers and bottle-feeding mothers to people and asked them which mother “looks” more nurturing, the majority identify the nursing mother.  When asked why, they say things like, “She’s caressing her child while she feeds it,” “She is cradling the child in a caring way,” “The child seems to be part of her,” and “There is a contentment on both their faces.”  Bottle-feeding mothers hold their babies differently.  The baby lies on the mother’s lap with more space between them and in a more open position.  Baby is able to flail his arms and legs around more in space, and the experience is one of separateness from the one feeding him. The breastfed baby is often held in such a way that his body is wrapped around his mother’s body, and pressed tightly or firmly against it.  His experience is one of closeness, of being part of a whole.  It is often difficult for adults to understand how these subtle differences can be important.  To the infant, every physical experience has an emotional experience attached to it.  Though these experiences may seem insignificant to us, they hold deep meaning for the infant, and if repeated frequently, constitute a kind of conditioning which form the infant’s beliefs about himself and those who care for him.

Sometimes mothers will say to me, “Well, I’m going to bottle-feed my baby, but I’m going to do all the things that breastfeeding mothers do.  I’m going to hold the baby close, look into his eyes, caress him, and then it will be the same.”  If you’re going to do all that, why not just breastfeed? Why this resistance to the actual act of doing it?  Why try to camouflage bottle-feeding and dress it up to look like breastfeeding?  Why not just do the real thing?

Just because there are other options today does not mean that they are best. I hope that you will consider the benefits of breastfeeding and make the choice to give your child the very best.

Judie C. Rall and The Center for Unhindered Living 

Photo by ibu Menyusui

No Substitute For Motherly Love

Many psychatrists have stated form time to time not only that man relives the moment of his birth, but also that his mental development will arise from the earliest association with life. If this is true, the happiness radiated by the nursing mother breast-feeding her child must envelop the infant in an aura of blissful associations with its earliest beginnings.

No hot blanket, guardian nurse or weaning bottle can replace the physiological character formation of the breast-fed baby. There is no substitute for mother love. The relationship between those who love and those who are loved is not a sentimental association but reality. There is a mutual transference of a force which elevates both the mind and the body to a higher plane of human development than the implementation of impersonal scientific procedures and synthetic devices

peacful baby at breast

Man cannot feed the baby within the uterus. What justifies his presumption that he is able to improve upon the physiological provision because the child has recently left the uterus? We can fortify and reinforce with certain substances the adequacy of both the placental and the breast nutrition, but the basic natural nourishment supplies something which no concoction can contain.

Although a skilled physician can write prescriptions for mixtures upon which children will thrive, they cannot include the personality factor of successful mothering. They can build bonnie and beautiful babies whose bodies are the pride of their nurses and a profit to the advertisers of patent foos. Without mothering, a nation of gladiators can arise, but if the seeds of mother love had been implanted in early infancy and fostered in youth, should we have seen the tragedies and the indescribable horrors of the last fifteen or twenty years? Breast-feeding has a sociological value far greater than is generally recognised.

From “Childbirth Without Fear” by Grantly Dick-Read
Photo by Brunna Perett

Click to see my hubpage on GMOs in infant formula

That the milk comes in does usually not occur for 2-5 days after birth. During that time, only small quantities of colostrum are available but are especially useful for the infant and should be fed. Colostrum is also known as “liquid gold”.

first time nursing

The sooner after delivery that breastfeeding is begun, the more colostrum your baby will receive. The sooner you nurse your baby after delivery, the better. Colostrum comes in small quantities and prepares your baby’ digestive tract for receiving the milk that comes later by stimulating the baby’s first bowel movement. Meconium, the black, tarry stuff that passes in the first stool, contains bilubrin, the substance that causes jaundice in newborns.

Colostrum contains white blood cells which are there to prevent infection in the newborn by attacking harmful bacteria. Colostrum is easy to digest with its high protein, low sugar and fat content, so it is an ideal first food.Dr. Robert Jackson, a member of the Professional Advisory Board for La Leche League International, has also pointed out these interesting facts about colostrum:The proportions of the constituents in human milk gradually change; the colostrum of the first day is not the same as the colostrum of the second; with the transitional milk there is a gradual consistent change intimately related to the needs of the baby.

Therefore no matter how much artificial formulas are improved, it’s never going to be possible to manufacture formulas for the first day, the second, the third, and so o, that are as suited to baby’s needs as his mother’s own milk. Don’t worry if your baby looses a little weight before your milk comes in. Nearly every newborn will loose some weight after birth.Your baby is born with enough extra fluid to tide him over until your milk is in. A slight weight loss is normal and usually quickly recovered once your milk supply is well established.

Colostrum is specially important to premature babies because it contains high amounts of amino acid cystine, an important component of protein, which premature babies lack. What to speak of the intimate connection between the nursing mother and the child which the infant needs for a healthy development. Studies show that the mortality rate from one to six month is less for breastfed babies than for artificially fed premature infants.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Human breast milk is so complete in supplying the nutritional needs of human babies that in general we can say that no other food source is needed until the baby is six month of age. Even at six month of age, a well-nourished mother’s milk is an excellent source of vitamins for babies.

Breast milk is the only kind of milk which was designed by nature for human babies. Formula made from cow’s milk must be changed and added to in order to be suitable for human babies. Because formula milks must be packaged and preserved, they contain various additions which breast milk does not have. Such additives include emulsifiers, thickening agents, acid-alkaline adjusters, and antioxidant.

Cow’s milk contains proportionally three times as much as protein as human milk. Unless it is diluted, as formula is, a human baby cannot digest and absorb its nutrients. Even with dilution, the protein in cow,s milk forms curds in the baby’s stomach which are relatively large and hard when compared to the protein curds from breast milk.

The large curds from formula are digested by the baby with only 50 percent efficiency, which means half of the protein must be excreted. The protein in human breast milk, on the other hand, is used by the baby with almost 100 percent efficiency. The formula fed baby, then, must drink a greater volume than the breastfed baby in order to obtain the same nourishment.

Protection against Disease

Human milk and colostrum, the yellowish=white “early milk” which is in the breasts during the latter half of pregnancy and the first couple of days after birth, are both rich in antibodies which protect newborn babies against many diseases. Breastfed babies are less susceptible to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Breast milk also provides good protection against stab infections babies.

From Babies, Breastfeeding, and Bonding by Ina May Gaskin

Very valuable information for the new mother. Encouraging and practical.

Photo by Raphael Goetter