Why breastfeeding could just be a genuine superpower

Of all the emotions and feelings we experience as parents, I reckon the most common and most frequent is guilt.

It starts in pregnancy, when we drink wine or eat sushi before we know we’re ‘with child’… and then we Google endlessly to learn the myriad ways we may have impacted our baby’s health.

It continues until the baby’s birth, when we place all sorts of expectations on ourselves to have a natural, drug-free, calm, stress-free, swift, ecstatic labour.


(Meanwhile if a friend of mine has a baby, I will love hearing her labour story because I think growing a baby is miraculous and childbirth is amazing. But I think no more or less of a woman who has a caesarean, or no pain relief, or all of the pain relief in the world. Except for that one woman who wanted to give birth with dolphins… That was just weird.)

Anyway, once the child is born the battle of ‘bottle vs breast’ gets started.

Now, parenting offers an endless pit of stuff to feel guilty about but for the most part, I’m okay with my efforts.

What other parents decide to feed their infants is completely none of my business. I literally couldn’t give a rat’s behind what you and yours choose to do.

But this week I was astounded to discover two truly incredible benefits of breast milk that made me experience a personal surge of joy at having breastfed three kids.

First up is the study that found “babies who are fed on formula milk grow up less healthy and less smart than breastfed babies”. This study, published in leading medical journal The Lancet, is the largest and most detailed analysis ever untaken about the trends and benefits of breastfeeding around the globe.

Amazingly, these researchers have calculated that if China were to boost breastfeeding rates for babies under six months old to 90 per cent, it would drastically reduce common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and asthma, saving the government at least US$220 million a year.

The second (and even more awe-inducing) discovery? Your body adjusts the nutritional and immunity-boosting components of your breast milk every single day, according to the specific and individual needs of your baby.

It does this by analysing your little one’s saliva while they’re feeding. It means that if and when the baby does get sick, they are generally able to recover more quickly because the mother’s body produces antibodies specific to the baby’s infection.

“At the same time that it is medicine,” writes Angela Garbes, “breast milk is also a private conversation between mother and child. While my daughter lacks words, breast feeding makes it possible for her to tell me exactly what she needs.”

If that’s not a bonafide superpower, then what is?!

The Meddler

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