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Why Breastfeeding in the First Hour of Life is Important

August 25, 2007 | 44,368 views

It’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), and this year’s motto, "*** Feeding the 1st Hour -- Save One Million Babies," is emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding during the newborn’s first hour of life.

Breastfeeding in the first hour, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Pediatrics, could save 41 percent of newborns who would otherwise die in their first month of life.

Breastfeeding right away increases the likelihood that babies will continue to breastfeed, and also gives them colostrum, a mother’s first milk. Colostrum, often called the “perfect food for every newborn,” is rich in antibodies and essential nutrients.

Mothers also benefit from early breastfeeding through improved lactation and less loss of blood.

Also part of WBW is the slogan "Welcome Baby Softly." It encourages protecting the first hour between a mother and baby, so they’re able to bond naturally. One of the best ways to do this is by placing the newborn on the mother’s chest, skin-to-skin. During this time, babies actually feel less pain and it’s not uncommon for the baby to intuitively latch onto the *** to feed.

Medical News Today August 1, 2007

Pediatrics March 2006


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Campaigns like this one are greatly needed to counteract widespread infant formula ads that often make it seem like bottle-feeding is superior to breastfeeding. Unfortunately, in the developing world, the average family does believe that bottle-feeding is better for babies than breast milk.

Of course, this is completely false. Breastfeeding is the least expensive and most effective way to improve the health of both yourself and your baby. It offers your child lifelong health benefits, including added protection against:

  • Heart disease
  • Bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease
  • Asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Eczema  

Breast milk boosts your child’s immune system naturally, promoting greater resilience against most common childhood illnesses and diseases. Many mothers who breastfed their babies have reported that their children were completely free of illness for the first several years, and have maintained unusually good health even as they’ve grown older.  

Several studies have also shown that breastfeeding can improve your child’s IQ, with breastfed children scoring an average of three to five points higher than formula-fed babies. The reason for this is that breast milk contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, including animal based omega 3 fats like  DHA and AA, which appear to support brain development.

These nutrients have recently been added to some infant formulas sold in the United States, however the DHA added to formula is inferior to that in breast milk, as it may be highly oxidized. Meanwhile, breast milk contains other important fat constituents beyond DHA and AA that your baby simply won't get from formula.  

Encouraging breastfeeding and initiating skin-to-skin contact shortly after birth can make a huge difference in the future health of your child. It can also improve your own experience with parenting, since breastfeeding stimulates the release of the oxytocin hormone, which is known to promote maternal behavior.  

There are ways you can increase your odds of being able to breastfeed successfully, such as looking into having a home birth, or using a doula. However, if, for whatever reason, you are unable to breastfeed, the next best thing would be to make this healthy infant formula using raw milk

Additionally, if you need to go back to work but want to continue breastfeeding, look into the possibility of pumping or expressing your milk. As a precautionary note, please do not ever give your baby soymilk or soy-based baby formula, as they are grossly deficient in nutrients, will expose your baby to chemicals that mimic estrogen, and have been linked to several infant deaths.

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