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


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,

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