Category Archives: breastfeeding

Breastfeeding mothers and the mama bear effect: new study in Psychological Science

A new study published in the  September issue of the journal Psychological Science, tested whether human mothers who lactate react in similar ways to other lactacting mammals — that is that they can be more aggressive in protecting their offspring.  Three cohorts were tested– breastfeeding mothers, mothers who formula feed and women who are not mothers.  Breastfeeding mothers were the most aggressive (the agression was not to protect their infants per se but the researchers posit that the increased aggressiveness serves a biological purpose to protect offspring in the event that they are threatened)  In addition , breastfeeding mothers also had the lowest blood pressures…  So there is a biological basis for the mother bear instinct after all! And breastfeeding not only is protective and beneficial for babies but has added health benefits for mom!

For more information about the study, go to


Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding, research

Breastfeeding is a learned skill and takes time to perfect

Many new mothers expect that breastfeeding will go smoothly from the moment baby first latches on. And for some women this is true.  For the majority of new mothers and babies there is a learning curve that takes from 4-6 weeks. ( think how long it would take you to learn to ride a unicycle, or juggle, or learn a new skill).

This is a useful webpage that lists some fo what you can expect in the early weeks of breastfeeding and how to set yourself up for success: practice, practice, practice, practice, a good support system, and knowing when to ask for help.


Filed under breastfeeding

Uplifting video on “If I could go back to before I decided to breastfeed”

Check out this video that quotes moms and dads on what they would have wanted to know about breastfeeding. Set to some great music!

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding

How to prepare for breastfeeding and gain confidence

So many of my recent clients have, at the advice of the hospitals their babies were born at, supplemented with formula.   This was in spite of their determination to exclusively breastfeed.  Surprising how many hospital staff continue to push formula even when their hallways are plastered with posters about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and the fact that babies should not be supplemented with formula unless it is medically necessary.  So very frustrating.  My clients were fortunately able to continue with breastfeeding but it took a tremendous amount of perseverance and ability to challenge the medical system. Here is a list of what you can do to boost your confidence before your baby has arrived…. setting up a strong social network can be critical in reaching your goals!


Check out :


Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding

Controversial BMJ article written by researchers on baby food payroll questions WHO guideline of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months

I was disappointed to read today that there are several researchers who have published an article calling the World Health Organization’s recommendation that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of their lives and up to 2 years and above.  Three of the four  researchers as it turns out are also on the payroll of the baby formula and baby food industry. The article does concede that there are higher health risks for babies who are given formula instead of breast milk. They are arguing for earlier introduction of solids.  ( go to for more information)  The article in question can be found What the researchers DON’T say is that their conclusions are not based on a systematic review of the evidence, nor is their article based on new evidence.   The WHO policy guidelines are based on a review of 3000 studies.

The World Health Recommendations response includes the following comments:

The paper in this week’s BMJ is not the result of a systematic review. The latest systematic review on this issue available in the Cochrane Library was published in 2009 (“Optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding (Review)”, Kramer MS, Kakuma R. The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 4). It included studies in developed and developing countries and its findings are supportive of the current WHO recommendations.

It found that the results of two controlled trials and 18 other studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding (which means that the infant should have only breast milk, and no other foods or liquids) for 6 months has several advantages over exclusive breastfeeding for 3-4 months followed by mixed breastfeeding. These advantages include a lower risk of gastrointestinal infection for the baby, more rapid maternal weight loss after birth, and delayed return of menstrual periods. No reduced risks of other infections or of allergic diseases have been demonstrated. No adverse effects on growth have been documented with exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, but a reduced level of iron has been observed in developing-country settings.”

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding

Excellent article on the recent debate around mothers sharing milk with other mothers

Check out this balanced and well written piece

where the author, Dr. Karleen Gribble, grapples with the risks and benefits of women sharing their milk with other women.  She notes that the same risks that Health Canada lists for sharing of mother’s milk also apply to formula.   Yet not warning advisory has been made about infants drinking formula.  Have a read and let me know what you think!

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding

New research shows how breast milk protects infants from harmful bacteria

Check out this recent New York Times article   which explains recent research conducted at the University of California, Davis. The researchers have discovered how complex sugars in mother’s milk help to protect the intestinal tract from harmful bacteria.

“The complex sugars were long thought to have no biological significance, even though they constitute up to 21 percent of milk. Besides promoting growth of the bifido strain, they also serve as decoys for noxious bacteria that might attack the infant’s intestines. The sugars are very similar to those found on the surface of human cells, and are constructed in the breast by the same enzymes. Many toxic bacteria and viruses bind to human cells by docking with the surface sugars. But they will bind to the complex sugars in milk instead. “We think mothers have evolved to let this stuff flush through the infant,” Dr. Mills said.

Dr. German sees milk as “an astonishing product of evolution,” one which has been vigorously shaped by natural selection because it is so critical to the survival of both mother and child. “Everything in milk costs the mother — she is literally dissolving her own tissues to make it,” he said. From the infant’s perspective, it is born into a world full of hostile microbes, with an untrained immune system and lacking the caustic stomach acid which in adults kills most bacteria. Any element in milk that protects the infant will be heavily favored by natural selection.

“We were astonished that milk had so much material that the infant couldn’t digest,” Dr. German said. “Finding that it selectively stimulates the growth of specific bacteria, which are in turn protective of the infant, let us see the genius of the strategy — mothers are recruiting another life-form to baby-sit their baby.”

Dr. German and his colleagues are trying to “deconstruct” milk, on the theory that the fluid has been shaped by 200 million years of mammalian evolution and holds a wealth of information about how best to feed and defend the human body. Though milk itself is designed for infants, its lessons may apply to adults.

The complex sugars, for instance, are evidently a way of influencing the gut microflora, so they might in principle be used to help premature babies, or those born by caesarean, who do not immediately acquire the bifido strain. It has long been thought there was no source of the sugars other than human milk, but they have recently been detected in whey, a waste byproduct of cheesemaking. The three researchers plan to test the complex sugars for benefit in premature infants and in the elderly.

The proteins in milk also have special roles. One, called Alpha-lactalbumin, can attacktumor cells and those infected by viruses by restoring their lost ability to commit cellsuicide. The protein, which accumulates when an infant is weaned, is also the signal for the breast to remodel itself back to normal state.

Such findings have made the three researchers keenly aware that every component of milk probably has a special role. “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”

Leave a comment

Filed under breastfeeding