Why Breastmilk is Not Just Food

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Why Breastmilk is Not Just Food
Wed, 01-30-2013 - 11:04am

Found this on Pinterest:

A Composite of "Why Breastmilk is Not Just Food" posts on Lakeshore Medical Clinic's Facebook Page.

These are a MUST read, though sometimes technical.

http://www.drjen4kids.com/soap box/notjustfood.htm


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2002
Sat, 02-02-2013 - 7:29pm

Breastmilk isn't even a food, it's a liquid.  At 4 months and at 6 months, my solely BF babies (all 3) were waking every 2 to 3 hours out of hunger.  Not good for them nor me.  It simply can't be good to awaken every 2 to 3 hours.  A body needs continuous, uninterrupted sleep to grow.  I did everything to encourage exclusive breastfeeding and to this day, 11 years later, am still unemployed and at-home with my babes.

So I know that breastmilk is not a food, it's a liquid which travels quickly through baby's body.  I breastfed each baby for 1 year ~ but darned if I was going to have them CIO or go hungry at 6 months.  Solid food during the daytime is the answer.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 10:23am

Welcome Thardy! Thanks so much for joining us here and sharing your thoughts!

I agree - breast milk is a liquid - but I think because it is the biological norm - then the body expects it to go thru the baby's body quickly, and baby will need to be fed often.

I also don't think that it means baby goes hungry - due to extreme allergies my youngest was exclusively breastfed for 18 month - no solid food at all. And yet he grew and thrived on breast milk alone for the entire time. But yes, I did have to feed him often...

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 12:44pm

We have a real obsession in Western nations, and I’m not sure it’s a healthy one.  We are completely, totally, obsessed with sleep.  And not in the “I love sleep” kind of way, but in a much more insidious way.  Why?  Because we focus the attention of our sleep obsession on those too young to stand up for themselves or to tell us how they really feel and what they really need. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2002
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 1:40pm
Hi Catherine. There's something to formula which "sticks" in the stomach and sometimes lets baby sleep longer. You probably know better from the boards and research, but my reading suggests a lot more breastfeeding moms sleep with their babies, than do FF moms. I think that says a lot. I BF but wouldn't bring a baby to bed. So, it was a very unhappy year for me and I think my babies during that first year of BF. Introducing solid food helped immeasurably. Thanks for the welcome!
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2002
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 1:47pm

Nisupulla, I assure you if my babies could've stood up and told me how they really felt and what they needed, they would have shouted out loudly that they needed deep sleep!  Not interrupted bursts of 2 hours at night.  It's during deep sleep, i.e., longer than 2 hours, that the pituitary gland sends out growth hormones.  Since breastfeeding is all about growing healthily, encouraging long periods of sleep would be ideal.  Alas, that didn't happen in the early months with my children: http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-connection-between-sleep-and-growth_3658990.bc

Also, you're mistaken about some alleged Western obsession with sleep.  I went without sleep for decades in h.s., college, graduate school and then my working years.  I can assure you!  It was the interrupted sleep that has so many new moms ~ FF and BF ~ walking like zombies thru the newborn months.  Interrupted sleep is known to cause migraines and trigger the "it's time to rise and eat breakfast" urge too.  It's not a question of martyrdom.  Sleep is a basic human need.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 2:36pm

<<There's something to formula which "sticks" in the stomach and sometimes lets baby sleep longer.>>

I have heard that, and it does seem to work for some moms. I have known moms who breastfeed and their baby sleeps thru the night and moms who are up every few hours with their formula-fed babies. So I think it really depnds on the baby, and wouldn't want to base my decision on whether to breastfeed or use formula on that reason. See my note below...

<<my reading suggests a lot more breastfeeding moms sleep with their babies, than do FF moms.>>

That may be true - I am not sure. But I bet a lot more moms sleep with babies who don't sleep thru the night - than those whose babies do sleep thru - breastfed or formula. I think that says a lot more! :-)

Will giving formula or solids at night help baby to sleep better?

Formula requires a baby’s digestive system to work overtime as baby tries to digest something not specific to the human body. Formula is harder to digest than human milk; thus formula-fed babies tend to go longer between feedings. While this may seem like a benefit, it’s probably not something we want for our babies’ bodies unless there are no other alternatives. There are also risks to formula use (see What should I know about infant formula?). It certainly has a place in infant feeding but probably shouldn’t be used whenever mom’s milk – either directly from the source or expressed – is available.


Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 2:37pm

Nisu - I was just reading that, and thinking should I post it! Thanks.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 2:46pm

Sleep: what is normal at six months?
Prof Care Mother Child 1994 Aug-Sep;4(6):166-7.

In this study, part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC), researchers surveyed the parents of 640 babies. Some of the results:

  • Only 16% slept through the night at six months old — 84% were not sleeping through the night at 6 months
  • 17% woke more than once per night, ranging from twice to eight times
  • 5% woke once every night
  • 9% woke most nights
  • 50% woke occasionally
  • 16% of six-month-olds had no regular sleeping pattern 

A longitudinal study of night waking in the first year.
Child Care Health Dev 1991 Sep-Oct;17(5):295-302.

Abstract: A longitudinal study of the development of sleep patterns addressed the issue of continuity and change in night waking in the course of the first year. Mothers of 118 infants, who took part in a follow-up study of normal babies, completed a sleep questionnaire at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Regular night waking was a common characteristic throughout the first year:

Baby’s age
% babies waking at night
3 months
6 months
9 months
12 months

The number of awakenings per night was a function of age. Following a decline in the number of interruptions from 3 to 6 months, an increase in night waking at age 9 months was recorded. Although the methodology does not lend itself to an objective validation of the changes in sleep-wake states, nor is it suitable for causal explanations, it is, nevertheless, important to note this profile. The increase in night waking towards the end of the first year coincides with significant socio-emotional advances which characterize this developmental stage.

Sleep/wake patterns of breast-fed infants in the first 2 years of life.
Pediatrics. 1986 Mar;77(3):322-9.

Abstract: Published norms for infant sleep/wake patterns during the first 2 years of life include an increase in length of maximum sleep bout from four to five to eight to ten hours by 4 months but little decrease in total sleep in 24 hours from 13 to 15 hours. Thirty-two breast-fed infants were followed for 2 years and data collected on 24-hour patterns of nursing and sleep. Infants who were breast-fed into the second year did not develop sleep/wake patterns in conformance with the norms. Instead of having long unbroken night sleep, they continued to sleep in short bouts with frequent wakings. Their total sleep in 24 hours was less than that of weaned infants. This pattern was most pronounced in infants who both nursed and shared a bed with the mother, common practices in many nonwestern cultures. The sleep/wake development accepted as the physiologic norm may be attributable to the early weaning and separated sleeping practiced in western culture. As prolonged breast-feeding becomes more popular in our society, the norms of sleep/wake patterns in infancy will have to be revised.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sun, 02-03-2013 - 5:27pm

thardy2001 wrote:
my reading suggests a lot more breastfeeding moms sleep with their babies, than do FF moms. I think that says a lot. I BF but wouldn't bring a baby to bed. !

Even though this is a debate board, it is still important not to be too judgmental of other moms when their choices are different than yours.

While the health differences between breast and non-breast are clearly established, co-sleeping is more nebulous. I know that sharing a bed when the parent is a smoker is riskier than having the baby in a crib in another room. I think the same is true of formula feeding. Co-sleeping (having the baby in the same room) is a safer choice than having the baby sleep in a different room, according to the AAP and researchers. One wouldn't know that but listening to the media!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2002
Wed, 02-06-2013 - 11:00am

Sorry, I really wasn't judging.  I'm simply saying, if a BF'ing mom is willing to sleep with her baby, then everyone gets back to sleep faster and perhaps gets even more sleep than a BF'ing mom who does not sleep with the baby.