Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
Feeding the Natural Way
Category : September 1988

Feeding the Natural Way



In 1793, an American mother fed her baby cow's milk! It made news. But today, millions of babies get the bottle, suck on synthesized rubber nipples and drink millions of dollars worth of processed, canned cow's milk. For 50 years a lucrative baby food industry intimidated moms worldwide with slogans that hinted their milk "maybe" wasn't good enough, so "play it safe" and give infants scientifically compounded formulas. Finally, in the last decade, due to reports issued from the highest authorities and organizations, we are once again hearing the obvious - mother's milk is unquestionably nature's number one baby food. The United Nations, UNICEF and World Health Organization jointly issued and distributed worldwide a 1988 "Facts for Life" document which stated, "Breast milk alone is the best possible food for a baby in the first four-to-six months of life" and into the second year with other foods. "All substitutes, including cow's milk, infant formula and cereal gruels, are inferior."

In the personal and confident words of Mrs. Gita Pai of California, who was assisted in this research by her husband Dr. Pai: "Part of becoming a new mother involves making the decision to breastfeed or bottle-feed the newborn. I always felt that breast-feeding was the right thing to do. I wanted to establish an emotional and physical bond between me and my child. Today, almost twice as many women are breast-feeding than ten years ago. This return to breast-feeding grew out of the desire to create a deep intimacy and bodily contact between mother and child. Also, the conveniences of breast-feeding are numerous: breast milk is always ready, warm and uncontaminated; there are no bottles to sterilize, no formulas to mix. In addition, breast-feeding saves a busy mother the expense and time of formula-buying and preparation. In undeveloped countries, innocent and ignorant mothers are lured by baby food companies to use formulas as a convenient and healthy alternative to breastfeeding. As a result, many infants suffer gastrointestinal disorders from contaminated water used in mixing formulas and sterilizing bottles.

"From a nutritional standpoint, breast milk is the perfect food for infants. Consider these benefits that formulas cannot provide. 1) Human milk contains a substance that helps in the maturation of the infant's intestinal tract. 2) Breast milk is rich with infection-fighting white cells that destroy bacteria - one reason that breast-fed babies have fewer intestinal and respiratory infections. 3) Human milk contains protective antibodies which recognize and destroy bacteria, virus and other disease-causing agents. 4) Antibodies called immunoglobins found in breast milk block the absorption of allergy provoking substances. 5) Breast milk is a complete source of nutrition for the first six months of life. It contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins to satisfy an infant's nutritional needs. 6) Unlike formula, breast milk changes to meet the infant's need. Colostrum, the fluid in the breast after birth, is higher in protein, vitamin A and minerals than the milk a mother produces later, which helps to prepare the infant's digestive system to receive the transitional and mature milk. Two weeks later, the mature milk appears, containing more fat, necessary for proper growth of the brain and nerve tissues. 7) A psychic bond is created between mother and child through which subtle communication effortlessly flows.

"Breast-feeding is a rewarding experience and a healthy spiritual gift to the infant. Choosing to breast-feed my daughter was a wonderful decision. There is nothing like seeing my little girl thrive and flourish on the milk I produced especially for her."

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.