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There is a new push for breastfeeding in developing countries. Researchers promote it to fight malnutrition in young children.
The world Health Organization says babies should receive only breast milk for the first six months. On its website, the W.H.O. says breast milk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants. And it notes that as part of the reproductive process, breastfeeding also has important health considerations for mothers.
Studies have shown that women who receive counseling about breastfeeding are more likely to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months.
The League is an international organization
that promotes breastfeeding. A Canadian doctor who serves as a health adviser
to the group has written and spoken widely on what he says are several mistaken
beliefs that stop women from breastfeeding.
Many women think they will not produce enough milk to feed their baby. Doctor Newman says the large majority of women in fact produce more than enough milk to feed their babies.
Some women worry that breastfeeding will hurt. Again, Doctor Newman says this is not true. He says breasts can hurt a little in the first few days of nursing. But he says any pain beyond that would most likely be the result of incorrect breastfeeding or an infection.
Jack Newman says it is not uncommon for people to believe that baby formula is just as good as breast milk. But he says only a mother's body can produce the right levels of all the nutrition that a baby needs as these needs change. He also points out that unlike formula, breast milk contains infection-fighting antibodies -- and it's free.
Medical experts agree that, in general, breast milk is the best possible food for a new baby. But one problem with breastfeeding is that many new mothers are not sure how to do it correctly. We will talk about that next week.