Organisations such as the La Lèche League or the Breastfeeding Network help to promote breastfeeding with all its benefits which, as a result, is becoming increasingly popular.
Fortunately, more and more women decide to at least try to feed their newborn themselves. National statistics show that there is a steady increase in initial infant breastfeeding (66% in 1995 to 69% in 2000). However, statistics also reveal that many new mothers give up breastfeeding after only a few weeks: after only one week, 55% of women breastfeed, after six weeks 43% and after 4 months 28% still feed their babies. In our modern culture, natural feeding is a challenge because bottle feeding still tends to be regarded as “easier”. Generations of parents who bottle fed their babies pass on what they have been sold decades ago. In addition, new breastfeeding problems arise that find appropriate discussion grounds in our civilisation, such as the “insufficient milk” syndrome. Yet, only about 5% of mothers show real physical difficulty to breastfeed, thus confirming that the idea of not making enough milk is a modern invention. Women may actually feel that they do not have enough milk to feed their baby but the reasons are not physical. It is more likely that the early difficulties mother and baby experience together result from stressful birthing environment, such as the hospital, where unknown staff and routine as well as doubtable reputation feed initial anxiety and thus, can add to the overall picture of the insufficient milk syndrome. Breast feeding can be highly influenced by psychosomatic elements, such as stress, anxiety, worries, depression and much more. Feeding is a natural self-regulating and extremely efficient process which is susceptible to how mothers feel, as much as anything. If a new mother does not receive the support she needs, the let-down reflex (milk flows from the ducts towards the nipple) is more difficult to be stimulated.
Besides the modern argument of “lack of sufficient milk”, many more interruptions help reduce the chance of breastfeeding, such as aesthetically motivated breast operations or if a separation of mother and baby after birth is unnecessarily prolonged. In addition, our natural desire for information societies has caused multiple parenting theories to shoot out of the grounds. Instead of helping reduce new parent’s fears they tend to increase and even confuse them. One of the often cited parent strategies is “feeding on schedule”. However, feeding in intervals causes unnecessary stress because the composition of the milk changes in a way that causes baby to feel hungry all the time. As a result, the mother will think that she does not produce enough milk whereas the truth is that she has waited too long.

Modern ways of living can make it extremely difficult for new mothers to embrace breast feeding. Their cultural background, lack of support within their own family or friends and misleading parenting information facilitate the return to bottle feeding. Moreover, cultural expectations of women who often have to return to work early in order to earn a living or pursue a career do not improve early parenting conditions.

While breast feeding is part of our natural survival strategy, bottle feeding is part of our modern culture. It gives new mothers the chance to cope easier with expectations and to help handle natural infant needs in an over-regulated world. We are aware of the fact that human milk is best for baby. Thus, it is the mother’s individual choice of how to feed her infant and to build a strong bond.

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The History of Bottle Feeding

February 25, 2008

Archaeological findings have shown that breast feeding substitutes were used thousands of years ago. Historically, substitute milk was given to infants whose mothers died or were too sick to feed their babies, usually with limited possibility of wet nursing at hand. Cow’s milk or goat’s milk were commonly used to replace mother’s milk. In addition, babies were sometimes given supplementary solid food, such as a paste made of bread or flour mixed with milk or water. Needless to say that infant mortality rate was extremely high – from 50 to 99% . History and cross-cultural studies have revealed that the increase in bottle feeding resulted in an increase in infant deaths, especially where standards of hygiene were not met. It is a fact, that artificial infant feeding can hold more risks for baby.

During the industrial revolution artificial feeding became popular in Britain as women had to leave their children behind to work in the factories. The first scientific breast milk substitute was invented in 1867 by a German chemist. It was a combination of cow’s milk, flour, potassium bicarbonate and malt. However, the popularity of bottle feeding increased when condensed milk was developed in the late 19th century. The social consensus about how best to feed baby in a modern world which was filled with new scientific achievements, changed towards artificial infant feeding. Bottle feeding was sold as nutritious, safe and easy to prepare with no need for refrigeration. More importantly, pasteurization of milk and sterilization of feeding equipment made artificial infant feeding a safer alternative; thus, making bottle feeding more popular. In addition, medical representatives and scientists celebrated this new supposedly convenient way of feeding baby. As a result, breast feeding became comparatively unpopular as figures show that only 20 to 30% of babies were actually breastfed during WWII in the USA. However, the 1980s proved difficult for companies such as Nestlé when their involvement with medical establishments in order to sell formula feeding in the third world was revealed.

Bottle feeding is still the number one choice for many new mothers. This can have different personal or even medical reasons, although modern living standards are mainly to blame for the change in maternal attitude over the past century.

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Breastfeeding Basics

February 18, 2008

Mother’s milk is best for baby! The composition is perfect for baby’s developmental needs. It is also the most convenient “fast food” we can think of: always at hand without having to warm it up or sterilize unnecessary feeding equipment and it is also the cheapest kind of food. No wonder the World Health Organisation promotes breastfeeding with the slogan “Breast is Best”. It is recommended to breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months to give baby the best start in life. This will greatly reduce the risk of SIDS, help reduce the risk of allergies in later life, support baby’s physical maturation and it will help develop a strong immune system.


How to get started

Whether you decide to give birth in hospital or at home, your midwife is trained to help you get started with confidence. Right after baby’s arrival he is put to the breast. This is important because baby’s sucking reflex is strongest in the first hour after delivery. Baby starts to suck on the nipple automatically because this is an inborn reflex. When looking at earlier ultrasound scans you may even be able to see your baby sucking his thumb. This shows you how early this reflex naturally develops! As soon as baby starts to suck at the breast, the hormone oxytocin is released which is responsible for the milk flow.

During the first days after baby’s birth, mother’s milk is yellowish and has a unique composition: it is very high in protein, vitamins, minerals and has less fat. So-called colostrum is particularly good for baby’s underdeveloped gestational system. Colostrum is also very high in antibodies which help keep baby’s immune system prepared to cope with the outside world.

After a few days, mother’s milk changes to eventually increase the caloric intake of the baby with a higher proportion of carbohydrates and fat. This change in composition is essential for baby’s growth.

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Common Sense in Breastfeeding

February 15, 2008

For many, breastfeeding is a very controversial topic. Future parents often don’t give it any thought until they discover that they are expecting. Suddenly their whole world changes and they have to make their minds up about parenting styles, personal expectations and what they “feel” is right for their offspring. The choice of breastfeeding is one decision to take that does not come easily. Parent’s choice is generally guided by their expectations of themselves and by what they think others may expect from them. Depending on the level of personal support around them the decision to breastfeed may come easily or instead may be accompanied by lots of research and information gathering. In other words, infant-feeding is essentially shaped by culture and the way society has evolved to understand and accept it.


In the late nineteenth century when it was common practice for women to work long hours in industrial factories, artificial formula found its way into the shops. Around WWI bottle feeding started to become fashionable as it was widely promoted by scientists and doctors. In addition, large companies sold it as a safe, nutritious and supposedly easy way to feed infants. In the 1940s only 20 to 30% of babies were actually breastfed. This practice was questioned in the eighties when a boycott against Nestlé was initiated. Today breastfeeding is actively encouraged by medical professional and organisations such as UNICEF, LaLècheLeague, The Breastfeeding Network and others.

This brief historical overview shows how Western societies have grown from what was absolutely normal and, in fact, vital to human survival to a complete change in human behaviour in order to favour scientific achievements. Infant bottle feeding evolved into fashionable practice which proved deadly for thousands of newborns. Those scientific trials counted for and still do count for thousands of infant deaths annually worldwide. Unfortunately, the question of what is best for baby has long been put aside to give space to what is more profitable.

However, all information about the historical and cultural background of infant feeding disregards the importance of how the individual new mother feels in today’s world when it comes to finding the best way for her newborn. Here, support is a key factor to happy parenting. As many families live apart from their parents and close friends, support is often not present. In fact, a study has shown that 53% say they don’t see their family enough and 58% would like more friends to share problems and experiences. With not only a little baby but also great personal expectations, new parents face an extreme challenge.

Parenting is a life long task and thus, gives enough time for every parent to find their right parenting strategies, for themselves. Babies are very strong and adaptive to what their parents understand to be best for them.

Most importantly, new parents have to trust their instincts and common sense when responding to baby’s needs. It can be difficult to navigate everyday life with all the energy and care that parenting demands. The choice of breastfeeding or bottle feeding is one of them: we all know breastfeeding is best for baby; however, in our isolating society it can be difficult to overcome first hurdles, especially when going it alone. New mothers should not be made to feel guilty if they cannot breastfeed or if they doubt their own ability. Equally, new mothers should not be made to feel guilty if they decide from the start to bottle feed. Instead, they should be able to speak to breastfeeding counsellors or other mums who have been in the same situation to get the advice and support they desperately need.

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Feeding Baby Safely

January 17, 2008

feeding_baby_thoughtful.jpgPreparing baby’s first food can be a scary prospect when you are worried about hygiene in the kitchen.
However, if you follow some basic hygiene rules, cooking can be great fun and very safe too.

By the time your baby starts on solids he may already be picking up his toys from the floor and putting them into his mouth. This is probably the time when you wonder whether you can still keep your baby’s world sterile. The truth is that it is not possible and – let’s be honest – you would not want to keep it sterile. Nowadays, the majority of medical professionals agree that our obsession with cleanliness can actually be harmful as it leads to a lowered immunity which makes us more vulnerable to germs and disease in the long term.

However, there are some basic hygiene rules which we all must follow to keep our babies safe:

· Always wash your hands with soap and water before you start. You must wash them again after handling raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs as they harbour bacteria. This may sound obvious but many of us forget it!

· Make sure you wash your pots, pans and utensils in hot, soapy water. Then air-dry them, instead of using a tea towel.

· Always wash vegetables and fruit as they can still have residues of pesticides used in the growing process on their surface as well as harbour bacteria

· Try to use separate cutting boards, one for “animal” products like meat and fish and another for fruits, vegetables and bread. If you only have one board, wash it when you switch from one food type to another. You must avoid cross-contamination where possible!

· Refrigerate freshly cooked baby food within 2 hours as bacteria can grow at room temperature after this time.

· When opening jars, listen for the ‘pop’ to make sure the seal was intact. If the lid of the jar has a raised button and you cannot hear the ‘pop’ sound when opening, return the jar to the supermarket or discard.

· After you have taken out a serving from a jar, put the lid back on again and refrigerate.

· You can keep fruit and vegetables in the fridge for 2 days; meat for 1 day; meat/vegetable combination for 1 day and egg yolks for 1 day.

· When heating baby food in the microwave, always stir up the food and test its temperature (either on the inside of your wrist or on your lips) before feeding baby.

· When in doubt about the freshness of a food, always discard!

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