Breastfeeding Is An Ideal Method Of Feeding And Nurturing Infants

By Connie Limon

In recent years especially, research consistently shows breastfeeding infants provides a multitude of compelling advantages to:


These advantages include:


Human milk is uniquely superior for infant feeding. All other commercial substitute feeding options differ markedly from it. Breast milk is easily digested and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. The health benefits to mothers include lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.

Regardless of the superiority of human milk against all other infant feeding options, health professionals agree that there are rare exceptions when human milk is not recommended. Breastfeeding is not advisable if one or more of the following conditions is true:

•The infant is diagnosed with galactosemia (a rare genetic metabolic disorder)

•The infant whose mother has been infected with HIV, is taking antiretroviral medications, has untreated, active tuberculosis, is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II, is using or dependent upon an illicit drug, is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents that interfere with DNA replication and cell division, is undergoing radiation therapies (radiation therapy requires only a temporary interruption in breastfeeding)

Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, which includes premature and sick newborns with some rare exceptions. The final decision on breastfeeding an infant is the mother’s. It is the role of the pediatricians to provide parents with complete, current information on the benefits and methods of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding should begin as soon as possible after birth, usually within the first hour.

Newborns should nurse whenever they show signs of hunger, which include:

•Increased alertness or activity

All the above signs will appear before crying. Crying is a late sign of infant hunger.

Newborns should nurse about 8 to 12 times every 24 hour period until satiety. This is usually accomplished within 10 to 15 minutes on each breast. If the infant is non-demanding in the early weeks after birth, they should be aroused or awakened to feed if 4 hours passes since last nursing.

Do not give supplements such as water, glucose water, formula and so forth to breastfeeding newborns unless advised by a health care professional due to some kind of medical indication. With adequate breastfeeding knowledge and practices, supplements are rarely needed. Pacifiers and supplements should be avoided and if used at all, only after breastfeeding is well established.

Newborns and breastfeeding mothers should be seen by a pediatrician or other knowledgeable health care professional when the newborn is 2 to 4 days of age. At that time, infant weight and a general health assessment should be done as well as observing breastfeeding for evidence of successful breastfeeding behavior. In addition the infant should be assessed for jaundice, adequate hydration and age-appropriate elimination patterns. The infant should have at least six urinations per day and three to four stools per day by 5 to 7 days of age.

Some obstacles to the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding include:

•Insufficient prenatal breastfeeding education
•Inappropriate interruption of breastfeeding
•Early hospital discharge in some populations
•Lack of timely routine follow-up care and postpartum home health visits
•Media portrayal of bottle-feeding as being “normal.”
•Commercial promotion of infant formula through hospital distributions of discharge packs, coupons for free or discounted formula, television and general magazine advertising

The highest rates of breastfeeding are among higher-income, college-educated women, 30 years of age living in the Mountain and Pacific regions of the United States.

The AAP strongly recommends breastfeeding as the ideal method of feeding and nurturing infants and recognizes breastfeeding as most important in achieving optimal infant and child health, growth and development.


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Connie Limon, Trilogy Field Representative. Visit and sign up for a weekly nutrition and health tip. The article collection is available as FREE reprints for your newsletters, websites or blog. Visit to purchase an array.

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