The single most important thing a mother can do for her newborn’s future health is to breastfeed. Breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby’s physical and mental development. Here are a few examples:
Immune system development:
During the first few days of a baby’s life, the mother’s mammary glands will produce colostrum, an immune boosting substance, which helps protect against colds, flu, polio, staph infections and viruses.
No matter how long the mother breast-feeds, antibodies from her milk are supplied to the baby, and act as a continual immune system builder.
Breast milk is a powerful anti-biotic. So much so, that a few drops administered directly into the ear canal can be used effectively for the treatment of childhood ear infections.
As a general rule, based on what I have regularly seen in my practice, breast-fed babies are less likely to suffer from allergies and intestinal difficulties than those on formula.
Higher performance IQ scores.
Improved long-term brain function.
Higher verbal IQ scores.
Breast Milk Quality It must be emphasized that all breast milk is not the same. The quality of mother’s milk depends greatly on her diet and overall health. If a mother regularly eats poor quality foods such as fast foods and processed foods, she should not expect her milk to provide as many benefits as milk from the mother who makes wiser dietary choices.
Despite what some pediatricians say, pesticides and other toxins will be present in mother’s milk if they are present in the diet. All care should be taken to consume organic foods of both plant and animal origin during pregnancy and lactation. Breast milk contains a great deal of fat. Eating organic foods provides more of the important omega-3 fatty acids needed for baby’s optimal development. Hydrogenated fats should be strictly avoided – they are poisons (see: Diet & Foods). They will accumulate, leading to reduced quality milk and potential problems for the infant. Stress also plays a role in overall breast milk quality. The less stress on mom, the greater the milk supply and the greater the breast milk quality.
Supplements for Mom To ensure that developing children receive their required nutrients, it is a good idea for mothers to use supplements while they are pregnant and as they breastfeed. Supplements however, are not enough. Scientists know only a minuscule amount pertaining to the substances in our food. Widely recognized vitamins and minerals are only a small piece of the dietary puzzle. Vital nutrients are discovered each year, which are not present in most supplements. Supplements can have their own share of problems as well. The label may tell you what is in the bottle, but it says nothing about the type (natural or synthetic), quality, or the degree to which the pills have been processed. Therefore, an above average diet becomes essential. I often tell mothers to concentrate on eating whole, unprocessed foods to ensure that their baby is getting the essential nutrients it has been designed to utilize.
Please refer to Diet & Foods, for detailed dietary guidelines. For now, the lactating mother should make sure that she receives plenty of:
Water – by far the easiest thing a nursing mother can do to help herself and her milk supply, is to drink plenty of water. ½ - 1 gallon per day is not too much.
Eggs, liver, chicken, fish and other animal proteins - These ensure that her milk will have proper amounts of vitamin B12, A and D, as well as all-important minerals like zinc.
Cod liver, fish or flax seed oil.
Stock made from bones.
Whole milk products - Pasteurized milk is acceptable if it is not homogenized and should be cultured with Kefir grains for 12 hours. See instructions on culturing grains in my article, Preparing Foods. The right dairy products will add size to your baby. Our first two daughters, Alyssa and Audra, weighed 6 lbs. 12 oz. and 6 lbs. 6 oz. respectively. Our third daughter, Brooke, weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz. (2 lbs. heavier!) Brooke’s delivery was also the easiest by far. Alyssa - Cesarean section; Audra - Born at home after 30 hours of labor, 11 hours of hard labor and 2 hours of pushing; Brooke – Born at home after 12 hours of labor, 3 hours of hard labor and 2 minutes of pushing. The only dietary difference was a conscious effort on my wife’s part to eat more wholesome dairy products.
Formulas Breast-feeding should ideally be continued for at least six months to a year or more. If a mother is unable to breast-feed, or if her milk is not of good quality due to poor nutrition, a homemade baby formula can be used. I encourage the mother wanting to make her own formula to purchase the book Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.
Store-Bought Formulas Do everything you can to avoid commercial formulas. These products are highly processed and contain many chemical preservatives and carcinogens (cancer causing agents). According to Sally’s book, “Milk-based formulas often cause allergies while soy-based formulas contain mineral-blocking phytic acid, growth inhibitors and plant forms of estrogen compounds that can have adverse effects on the hormonal development in the infant. Soy-based formulas are also devoid of cholesterol, needed for the development of the brain and nervous system.”
If store bought formulas are your only option, you can purchase a formula from the health food store that is rice-based and organically grown. In addition, to avoid any colicky episodes, you will probably need to supplement your child with ½ capsule of plant enzymes and ¼ capsule of probiotics (natural bacteria) per bottle of formula. Also, grated liver can be added to this formula as well. We did this with Alyssa, our first daughter, before we knew about the formulas above. She turned out to be very healthy. But remember, we did everything else in this section too!
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