I will admit that when it comes to nutrition for new born babies, toddlers and older children, I am fairly militant. I do not believe babies should consume anything other than breast milk for at least a year. I believe if you cannot breastfeed, then donor milk should be sought out as soon as possible. that is not to say I do not think formula milk has its place, quite the contrary. I have seen miraculous things done when prescribed to premature infants due to the higher protein content and high fat content. But I stand by that there should be the only one way to obtain formula milk. Prescription.
As a Vegan I morally and ethically object to formula milk as a ‘choice’ for infants. I understand we live in a culture of choice and that must be accepted, but at the end of the day, human milk is made for humans.
A mothers milk is not only uniquely designed for your child, it constantly changes and adapts to your infants body and requirements. It is the most singularly bioactive food on the planet. Nothing comes close to what you infants body requires. Nothing, nadda. This isn’t some vegan verbal diarrhoea it is completely based in fact.
Therefore, like the post about pain, we are going to delve into the world of infant nutrition. I simply want to inform, and so by being informed you can discuss this topic with your Wife or partner should you need to. Your infants nutrition is the most important part of their development and therefore, you should know everything you can.
First we will take a look at formula milk and what ingredients are used to make it as well as what is in breast milk. We won’t look at individual parts of milk unless needed but collective components will be explained. We will briefly discuss the application of cows milk in infant human diet and development as well as adaptive donor milk application. Then we will talk about societal change and how the sexualisation of the female form (primarily breasts), bad communication and general lack of breastfeeding community around mothers has cause massive problems with communion and support among younger women.
Before we being, a few messages from formula companies:
Aptamil (leading brand) – Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use the an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill.
SMA – Breast milk has so many benefits – most importantly it provides the right quality of protein, at the appropriate quantity.
For the first six months of your baby’s life, the benefits of breast milk are many, but it is the unique composition of nutrients in breast milk that make it the gold standard.
Cow & Gate – Cow and gates is word for word the same as Aptamil, but at the bottom of their main page in very small writing is “Breast milk is best for your baby. Follow-on milk should only be used as part of a mixed diet and not as a breast milk substitute before six months”.
So, from the companies saying their milk is a perfect substitute, they also say it isn’t as good and your infant should be breast fed. Food for thought.
In the following table Breast milk in its mature form has been broken down into individual components. On the right is a leading brand of liquid formula.
Just to consider, in the first few days of your babies life your wife or partners breasts will produce a thick yellowy substance called Colostrum. This has a different component makeup to transitional and mature makeup, its protein content is higher, and specifically contains a higher concentration of growth factors and components that strengthen your babies immune system. The breakdown of colostrum does not have a separate list since the components of that are still in the breast milk list.
|Breast Milk||Leading Formula brand (0-6 months)|
|Carbohydrates (energy source)||Skimmed milk|
|Lactose||Carbohydrates (energy source)|
|Oligosaccharides (see below)||lactose (from milk)|
|Carboxylic acid||Galacto-oligosaccharide (from milk)|
|Alpha hydroxy acid||Fructo-oligosaccharide|
|Proteins (building muscles and bones)||Proteins (building muscles and bones)|
|Whey protein||Whey protein concentrate (from milk)|
|HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells)||Anhydrous Milk fat|
|Many antimicrobial factors (see below)||Sunflower oil|
|Serum albumin||phospholipid (from egg)|
|Non-protein nitrogens||Fish oil|
|Creatine||Single cell oil|
|Creainine||Amino Acids (the building blocks of proteins)|
|Peptides (see below)||Nucleotides (chemical compounds that are the structural units of RNA and DNA)|
|Amino Acids (the building blocks of proteins)||Uridine 5′-monophosphate sodium salt|
|Aspartate||Inosine 5′-monophosphate sodium salt|
|Clycine||Guanosine 5′-monophosphate sodium salt|
|Carnitine (amino acid compound necessary to make use of fatty acids as an energy source)||Choline|
|Nucleotides (chemical compounds that are the structural units of RNA and DNA)||Sodium|
|5’-Adenosine monophosphate (5”-AMP)||Magnesium|
|3’:5’-Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (3’:5’-cyclic AMP)||Iron|
|5’-Cy monophosphate (5’-CMP)||Zinc|
|Cy diphosphate choline (CDP choline)||Copper|
|Guanosine diphosphate (UDP)||Manganese|
|Guanosine diphosphate – mannose||Sweetners and non-essentials|
|3’- Uridine monophosphate (3’-UMP)||Maltodextrin|
|5’-Uridine monophosphate (5’-UMP)||Inositol|
|Uridine diphosphate (UDP)||Soy lecithin (emulsifier)|
|Uridine diphosphate hexose (UDPH)|
|Uridine diphosphate-N-acetyl-hexosamine (UDPAH)|
|Uridine diphosphoglucuronic acid (UDPGA)|
|Several more novel nucleotides of the UDP type|
|Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids|
|Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (important for brain development)|
|Arachidonic acid (AHA) (important for brain development)|
|Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)|
|Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)|
|Conjugated linoleic acid (Rumenic acid)|
|Free Fatty Acids|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids|
|Saturated fatty acids|
|Vitamin D metabolites|
|Vitamin B8 (Inositol)|
|Molybdenum (essential element in many enzymes)|
|Growth Factors (aid in the maturation of the intestinal lining)|
|Granulocyte-colony s factor (G-CSF)|
|Macrophage-colony s factor (M-CSF)|
|Plateletderived growth factors (PDGF)|
|Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)|
|Hepatocyte growth factor -α (HGF-α)|
|Tumor necrosis factor-α|
|Epithelial growth factor (EGF)|
|Transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α)|
|Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) (also known as somatomedin C)|
|Insulin-like growth factor- II|
|Nerve growth factor (NGF)|
|Peptides (combination of amino acids)|
|HMGF I (Human growth factor)|
|Parathyroid hormone (PTH)|
|Parathyroid hormone-related pep (PTHrP)|
|Bombesin (gastric releasing pep also known as neuromedin B)|
|Hormones (chemical messengers that carry signals from one cell, or group of cells, to another via the blood)|
|Thyroid s hormone (TSH) (also known as thyrotropin)|
|Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH)|
|Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)|
|Leptin (aids in regulation of food intake)|
|Ghrelin (aids in regulation of food intake)|
|Feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL)|
|Prostaglandins (enzymatically derived from fatty acids)|
|Enzymes (catalysts that support chemical reactions in the body)|
|Antiproteases (thought to bind themselves to macromolecules such as enzymes and as a result prevent allergic and anaphphylactic reactions)|
|Antimicrobial factors (are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects, such as bacteria and viruses)|
|Leukocytes (white blood cells)|
|B lymphocytes (also known as B cells)|
|T lymphocytes (also known as C cells)|
|sIgA (Secretory immunoglobulin A) (the most important anti-infective factor)|
|Mucins (attach to bacteria and viruses to prevent them from clinging to mucosal tissues)|
|Biﬁdus Factor (increases growth of Lactobacillus biﬁdus – which is a good bacteria)|
|Lactoferrin (binds to iron which prevents harmful bacteria from using the iron to grow)|
|B12 binding protein (deprives microorganisms of vitamin B12)|
|Fibronectin (makes phagocytes more aggressive, minimizes inﬂammation and repairs damage caused by inﬂammation)|
|Oligosaccharides (more than 200 diﬀerent kinds!)|
Well that’s exhausting!
So, to state the obvious, there appears to be substantially more components in breast milk than formula. This I can’t imagine would be news to anyone.
So lets delve a little deeper. There are considerably more types of carbohydrates, fats and proteins found in breast milk and as you would imagine, specifically designed for human children.
In liquid form, formula milk contains skimmed milk (or skimmed milk powder for the powdered form of formula. This is because normal cows milk usually contains substantially more protein than human milk. This is because protein helps build muscle in mammals and cows need a lot of if to grow to a large size very quickly. So cows milk is processed so protein is reduced to give it the same(ish) amount of protein found in breast milk. The difference is breast milk contains more than just a couple of different proteins. It contains many active proteins and numerous amino acids to compliment your babies physical growth.
Human babies grow differently to other mammals in that our brains grow incredibly rapidly in our first three month, in fact by day 90, your babies brain should have doubled in size. For our brain to grow this fast, we need good sources of fats. Because most of the fats and fatty acids in breast milk cannot be replicated easily in a lab (if at all), in formula, cheap oils are used instead, from dairy, eggs and fish (note: omega 3 is found in the algae that fish eat, not naturally occurring in the fish) plus a few different other oils like palm and coconut oil to name a couple. Whilst in small quantities they are fine, drinking them as a substitute just isn’t going to cut it, and to process them down to powdered form is never going to be good. The more processed something is, the worse it is going to be for your body.
For all the cells in our bodies to replicate and grow we need energy, and the best thing for this is carbohydrates. Breast milk contains lactose, and oligosaccharides. Now as far as I am aware All Mammalian milk Contains lactose, however oligosaccharides are species specific. HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides) are only in human milk and cannot be synthesised. So formula has to rely on oligosaccharides from cows milk and fruit oligosaccharides. Human oligosaccharides, apart from helping the bacteria in his intestines and bowel, also play an significant role in the immune system development.
Just to show the power of human specific oligosaccharides, in mothers with HIV, mixed feeding has the highest transmission prevalence. Where as exclusively breast fed babies do not contract The virus thanks to breast milk oligosaccharides containing Lewis antigen glycan which inhibit the transmission of HIV.
So we have touched on a few components that breast milk and formula have in common and their differences therein. But breast milk has a few tricks up its sleeve that sets itself so far apart from formula that it makes it seem ridiculous that its sold in supermarkets at all.
Breast milk for the first few days of your newborns life is called Colostrum. Colostrum, unlike mature breast milk is higher in proteins and antigens. It is designed specifically to boost and build your babies innate and active immune system. As well as introduce growth factors that allow your babies organs and systems to mature properly such as the vascular system and nervous system.
Breast milk also contains many hormones which your baby will not begin to produce on their own yet such as ghrelin and leptin. these two examples help regulate food intake by your child as well as energy regulation throughout their body. They uniquely allows your baby to know when they are full or hungry and this is something formula fed babies cannot do. The difference this makes can be substantial, as formula fed babies on average take in more calories than their bodies require since they do not know when they are full.
Apart from a naturally complete vitamin and mineral compliment rather than synthetic or processed ingredients, to top breast milk off as the most amazing food for your baby, it literally kills tumors. It has inhibitors that stop cancer cells reproducing. It also contains antiproteases that inhibit allergic and anaphylactic reactions, mucins that stop bacteria from sticking to mucous and makes the phagocytes more aggressive towards anything trying to invade your child body as well as reducing inflammation and aiding repair to physical injuries.
Breastfeeding reduces your wife or partners chances of ever getting breast cancer. Although I have only read briefs of that fact, I dont know enough about the reasons why to put it down here.
So there you have it. By all accounts that should be enough information on Breast milk for you and your wife or partner to discuss on how you would like to feed your child.
Now, some women cannot physically breastfeed. And although it is a very small percentage, it can happen, and that can be devastating to a new mother. In those circumstances formula or donor milk are your only choices and which direction you take is up to you. Donor milk is obtained from women who produce too much milk. this is Frozen and stored. Donor milk can now be obtained from mothered of different backgrounds, health, race and diet. Your views on whether you would use donor milk are yours though and everything should be open for discussion.
At the end of the day, any nutrition is good and as long as your baby is being fed, then your ln the right track, but if its being breast fed, then you are setting your baby up to a much healthier, happier future.
I would definitely recommend to your wife or partner no matter her circumstances to see a breastfeeding councillor and find a breastfeeding support group especially if she doesn’t have that kind of support from the women around her.
Generally, there is a growing problem among younger women not having the support required to breastfeed and many stop after a few days or weeks. Younger women usually feel insecure about other women looking at or touching their breasts to help newborns latch onto the nipple effectively. And if problems occur, there is no one to encourage, affirm or support.
The UK has the lowest breastfeeding figures.
Let that sink in for a few seconds.
A human baby should be breast fed at least six months and definitely up to twelve months. 24 months would be ideal, and the natural age for human children to wean is around four years. Society has taught you that that particular snippet of information is ridiculous. And yet, its true.
81% of women in the UK try breastfeeding. Just over 30% are still breastfeeding at six month. About 0.5% of babies are breastfed at or beyond a year.
Reasons for this are wide, but research shows that support is a factor, as well as the sexualisation of breasts meaning women feel anxious about breastfeeding in public. There are however movements that help empower women to feel less self-conscious and emboldened to know their bodies are designed to nurture and given their child the perfect nutrition.
Poor communication can also play a key role in allowing a woman to breastfeed. Oxytocin is a hormone that reduces stress and helps people bond. In addition to this, it allows women to lactate and form a stronger bond with their babies. However, if the stress hormone cortisol is coursing through your wife or partners body, it inhibits the production of oxytocin, meaning lactation may not occur, which in turn causes stress and more cortisol, and the cycle continues. So, the way you communicate with her is incredibly important. Your very words can be immeasurably destructive or they may be powerful enough to enable her to breast feed. You must be the defender of her hormones. Her bulwark. Her shield to the stresses of everyday life. Men do not see the importance of their roles after childbirth let alone during it. This is one of those roles that no other can fill. You are the man. The defender. The guardian.
Ethically? Shop bought formula is made from cows milk dude. so unless what came out of your wife has four legs, hooves and makes a mooing sound, feeding with formula is pretty weird.
Breast is best. Always.