Breastfeeding

When baby is born, he is put to the breast as soon as reasonably possible. This is usually in the first few minutes, once it is obvious that he is breathing well, and he has ‘pinked up’. The colostrum which is in the breast at birth (and usually for a few weeks before birth) is unique to humans and literally ‘worth it’s weight in gold’ (check today’s gold price!). For other mammals, in the wild, when they for any reason are unable to get (drink/ingest) their mother’s colostrum and subsequent milk, will die within 3 days. We do not let this happen with our babies, but we can use our knowledge to help maximize the benefits that baby should have in the first few days.

Also, for a few minutes consider the meaning of this word ‘breastfeeding’. What is the real definition? In the historical past we didn’t need one – if baby didn’t breastfeed it died. Today we use the word in a variety of settings and with various degrees of meaning. It is predominantly a verb, but is it the baby or the mother who is breastfeeding?

To make it simple – babies are born to breastfeed, mothers are destined to lactate and assist the breastfeeding infant (parent coach).

To complicate things, there are other definitions required by demographers, statisticians and clinicians who hope to measure how ‘effective they are in their work’ or to predict future health issues or costs to the nation.

We have breastfeeding rooms, breastfeeding policies, exclusive breastfeeding, predominant breastfeeding. This can be somewhat confusing. The main thing to remember is that human milk is always OK for human consumption, it does not have a ‘best before date’ even though expressed milk does have a ‘use by date’. Some human milk is better than none and increasing the level of human milk in the community is definitely a health goal for the whole community.