There has always been debate on the breastfeeding vs bottle feeding topic. Clearly, 100 years ago this was not a discussion. Hence the term “wet nurse.”
Beginning in the 20’s and 30’s, formula feeding became more popular as a result of lowered costs and better production methods. By the end of WWII, breastfeeding rates were down to 20% and the American public was completely drinking the Kool Aid of formula being even better than breastmilk. At times, the La Leche League seemed to be the sole voice supporting nursing as a needed benefit to the baby.
Over the years, manufacturers have slowly added things into formula. DHA, ARA and probiotics have only recently been added based on evidence of their benefit to newborn and infants. I remember the first time that I came to understand that certain probiotic bacteria end up in breastmilk–I was incredulous, to say the least. The steps that are required to actively put bacteria from mom’s gut into breastmilk are quite lengthy. Few things tell me more strongly that Mother Nature wants those bacteria in our system than their presence in breastmilk.
So how many other nutrients are in breastmilk that we have not yet discovered? Only time will tell, but we do have a new one to add to the list.
Visfatin is a hormone that is produced by fat cells and is believed to play a role in the protection against diabetes, although it’s complete role is not yet fully understood.
This particular study found much higher levels of visfatin in breast milk than is normally found in the bloodstream. Since visfatin may play a role in diabetes and body weight, the authors suggest that this compound may play a strong role in the development of healthy weight gain in the infant.
Whether or not this plays out, it is yet another example of just how little we know about the human body. In generally, the more we rely on the way our bodies were designed (i.e. nursing), the less problems we are going to have. Period.
This is not to point a disparaging fingers at mothers who do not breast feed, but every effort needs to be undertaken to nurse for the first 6 months. Some women truly have difficulties, but some just choose not to nurse. This is a decision for the baby, not for you.
If you are a mother who nursed your child, what difficulties did you encounter and how did you overcome them?