Newborn Care: Newborn Feeding
By Loraine Stern, MD
Breastfeeding Your Newborn
A recent study is dispelling the perception that
breastfeeding mothers get less sleep than
mothers who feed their newborns formula.
Overall, new moms have a belief that they are
sacrificing sleep to breastfeed, and sometimes
this belief may influence their decision on
The study examined the first three post partum
months and used 3 different groups of newborns:
those that were breastfed exclusively, those
that fed formula exclusively and those that used
a combination of both.
A number of sleep characteristics, including
total sleep time and number of night-time
awakenings were measured and overall the study
showed no difference between the groups.
There is no better choice for your newborn than
There are multiple health benefits for both
mother and baby. The current recommendation is
exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months
of life and then support for breastfeeding for
the first year and beyond as long as mutually
desired by mother and child. Hopefully, with
this new data regarding maternal sleep and
breastfeeding, more families will make the
choice to breastfeed their newborn.
By now you have heard "breast is best"
enough times to convince you to initiate newborn nursing. If it is a new
skill for you, you may need some help getting started. Depending on the
facilities at your hospital, how busy the women's unit is, how long you
stay and whether there are lactation specialists to help you, you may
leave the hospital well on your way. The critical factor is for you and
your newborn to be together, preferably skin to skin, for as much of the
time as possible.
If you need extra help with newborn feeding,
and many women do, lactation consultants and educators are available in
most communities - unless you live in Antarctica.
Resist the temptation to use formula in the
first couple of weeks if your newborn seems to want to nurse every hour
for a while. It is nature's way of stimulating your milk supply and
using formula will interfere with this process.
The reasons a woman cannot nurse her newborn
are very few - for example, anti-thyroid medications may prohibit breastfeeding. Some prior breast surgery may interfere. Most antibiotics and
most routine medications are fine. Check with your pediatrician if you
are not sure. A web site called LactMed has information about 700
medicines during breastfeeding by both trade names and generic.
Formula is wholesome and safe for newborns
so if you have to or choose to formula feed do not feel guilty. Choosing
a formula depends on several factors such as price, availability and
family history. If, for example, there is a strong family history of
milk sensitivity or allergy, you might be advised to either choose an
alternate formula or watch for signs your baby is not tolerating a
standard formula. Spitting up is not a problem but vomiting, diarrhea,
blood in the stools may be signs of a serious reaction. Newborn gas is
normal in the first few weeks and not necessarily from a formula
care video will discuss newborn feeding in more detail.
Breastfeeding Your Newborn
The American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirmed its breastfeeding policy and stated that
breastfeeding should be considered a basic health issue, not a lifestyle
choice. The reiteration of the recommendation to exclusively nurse for
your newborn’s first six months of life and then add complementary foods
was recently published. Continuation of breastfeeding is recommended for
one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and baby. The AAP based
its statement on the overwhelming evidence of health benefits for both
mother and newborn.
Newborn Care: Food Allergies
The rate of reported food allergies in children is increasing. As
reported in Pediatrics, the number of doctor visits and hospitalizations
because of food allergies has increased. This might represent an
increase in awareness by doctors and parents rather than more allergic
Can we help prevent food allergies in
Approximately 90% of allergic reactions to food are caused by 8
different food types: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat,
shellfish and fish. Overall, studies have not shown that women who
excluded eggs, peanuts, milk and fish while pregnant have children with
fewer allergies than those without a restricted diet. Also, there is a
lack of evidence to support that giving these foods to babies will
cause, promote or worsen allergies.
There is, however, evidence that exclusive
breast feeding for the first 3-4 months of life as well as continued
breast feeding while introducing these allergenic foods might help with
decreasing the amount of allergic problems in your child. Therefore,
breast feed your newborn as long as you can. The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends at least a year and longer if possible.
More about Breastfeeding
The scientific data continues to
be published regarding the benefits of newborn breastfeeding. A new
study from the Netherlands shows that exclusive breastfeeding for four
months reduces the risk of both respiratory and gastrointestinal
infections by 45. The protection is even greater for the newborn if
exclusively breastfed for six months, lowering the infection rate to 65%
compared to formula fed babies. These results support the American
Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization's
recommendations that all newborns and babies be exclusively breastfed
for six months. In my practice, a lot of women return to work when the
newborn is around four months old and find it hard to continue exclusive
breastfeeding. This data shows that that all their hard work in nursing
their babies has a fantastic health benefit even if they cannot make it
to six months.
Another study recently published calculated
the benefit to society if more newborns and babies were exclusively
breastfed. The researchers looked at the illnesses that are decreased by
breastfeeding in both babies and moms. They found that if 90% of
American families exclusively breastfed for six months, the savings
could amount to $13 billion a year and over 900 lives-with 95% of those
being infants. We have a long way to go in this country. In 2005,
approximately 12% of U.S. families exclusively breastfed their children
for six months. The goal in 2010 is 17%. If met, this would save over $2
billion and 140 lives.
These numbers are overwhelming. These
studies reinforce some of the health benefits of breastfeeding. To also
learn more about newborn breastfeeding and SIDS
Breast Feeding and Childhood Obesity
- Read more about this here.
Breast Milk Improves
Newborn’s Intestinal Health
A recent study showed that breast milk boosts
the growth of beneficial bacteria compared to
formula. Formula brands have been trying to
mimic this effect by adding different types of
pro-biotics and pre-biotics to the formula.
However, it looks like the old saying “breast is
best” can be heard again with this data. This
study reinforces the importance of breastfeeding
Studies have already demonstrated that
breast-milk feeding in newborns reduces diarrhea
and respiratory infections as well lowering the
risk of developing allergies, type 1 diabetes
multiple sclerosis and other diseases later in
life. This finding of helping to grow the
protective bacteria could possibly be one of the
reasons behind this health benefit.
The beneficial health data surrounding giving
breast milk to your newborn continues to grow.
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