Does Breastfeeding prevent Childhood Obesity?
According to research breast feeding has a positive impact on children’s weight.
Of course people have been singing the praises of breast feed for a long time:
Colostrum, the very first milk that a ladies’ body produces after childbirth, carries an extremely high number of both antibodies and leukocytes (protective white cells) to the baby, and helps his immature immune system fight off disease, viruses, and bacteria. In effect, colustrum super-charges the baby’s system and helps prepare him for life outside the womb.
Breast milk contains all of the antibodies that the mother’s body has created. So, anything that the mother is immune to, the baby will also be immune to for as long as she is nursing. As new germs are introduced into the baby’s environment, the mother’s body begins preparing antibodies to ward off those germs. These new antibodies are then passed through the breast milk to help the baby fight off the new threat. Now, this doesn’t mean that breastfed babies never get sick, but research has shown that they do typically recover more quickly than a formula-fed baby.
There are additional benefits to breastfeeding other than just the antibodies. It has been shown that breastfeeding offers protection against ear infections, respiratory illnesses, allergies, intestinal disorders, colds, viruses, staph, strep, e-coli infections, diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, childhood cancers, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, salmonella, and SIDS. Breastfeeding also offers lifetime protection from Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, some lymphomas, insulin dependent diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
On top of all the above mentioned benefits, research has pointed out the fact that babies who were breast fed are less likely to become overweight children.
What if you can not nurse your baby?
Now, I do believe in all the above mentioned benefits, because God created a Mom’s body to be able to feed her baby, and do it well.
However, I’ve experienced different scenarios in my family: Two of my children were formula-fed , and two were breast-fed. Now, my “not so scientific” conclusion: All of them turned out fine. Some of them had bouts with weight gain in the pre-teen years, mainly due to my example of bad eating habits and a lack of exercise in our family as a whole. But it wasn’t necessarily the two who were formula-fed.
So in my opinion, if you are able to breast feed, go right ahead, there are so many obvious benefits, and it might even prevent your child from becoming overweight. But I think in the end, if you have not been able to breast feed your baby, don’t beat yourself up about it. The thing that is going to matter most is to set a good example of staying fit and eating healthy. Believe me, you will be the one who has the biggest influence on your child’s behavior by helping your child stay active.
Now, again, I am not trying to make you feel bad if you are not setting a good example right now: I’ve been there, remember. What I want to do is encourage you to start taking better care of yourself, for your sake and the sake of your children, especially if you are a parent who struggle with obesity yourself.
Can breast feeding help you lose weight?
Another benefit that’s often mentioned in post par-tum circles is that
breastfeeding helps the Mom lose the majority of her baby fat at a much quicker rate? Again, I have to say, that although a lot of my friends spoke of this wonderful occurrence, I have yet to experience it.
The only thing that brought my weight down after my pregnancies was to eat right and exercise. This was not easy. Having suffered from eating disorders I would get panicky and try and find drastic measures (diets and diet pills) to help me lose weight. These helped me lose some of the weight, but they left me depleted, sick, tired all the time, and depressed. If you had a baby your body needs all the loving care you can give it, and putting your body on a diet is simply self abuse.
Also: Diet pills are extremely dangerous for you and your baby. You should not nurse when you use diet pills, and then off course you should preferably not use diet pills at all.
Again, I know about the fear of gaining all that weight during pregnancy. Lots of women with eating disorders feel a “freedom” or a “passport to overeating” during the nine months of pregnancy. Yet, in the back of our minds we know that it is coming back to haunt us. So the minute that precious baby is born we start to worry. For a while there we still have the excuse that we’re breastfeeding or the hope that all that extra weight will just melt away because of it. Many women find themselves, as I did, after two years of breast feeding, with still all the extra weight in tact, if not more. Then we start to scramble for the nearest diet or extreme measure to get rid of the fat, fast!
Believe me, I’ve done this four times, there is only one way: Finding out what the right thing is (taking good care of your body), doing the right thing consistently for as long as it takes, and more importantly, find healing by surrendering this broken part of your life to God.
You are so important to that little baby God gave you, don’t make your body sick or try and live with all the brokenness that marks the lives of people with eating disorders. It is extremely difficult to raise a family with an Eating Disorder! So if you are single or a new mom, please take care of it now. On the other hand, even if your children are already older, as mine was when I finally overcome eating disorders, it’s okay. It is never to late to show them the way out of this miserable way of living.
Please take a look at my course that I wrote especially for women with eating disorders. THIS IS A COURSE THAT YOU CAN USE RIGHT THROUGH AND BEYOND PREGNANCY. It’s about finding healing and taking care of yourself, for you and for your children.
You can get help for yourself or a loved one through my 12 Week Online Study Course. I’ve compiled this course from my own experience with food struggles, insight and understanding I’ve gained through counseling ladies in my support groups, Biblical principals, as well as material I’ve gathered by well-known Christian authors, counselors, and doctors. This study is jam-packed with information, practical guide lines and honest testimonies.
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