Postnatal Care and SIDS

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  • 0:03 Postnatal Care Considerations
  • 0:33 Breastfeeding vs. Baby Formula
  • 4:18 Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • 6:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will address the often heard debate about breastfeeding vs. using baby formula in terms of which one is more beneficial. We'll also look into sudden infant death syndrome.

Postnatal Care Considerations

Postnatal care, or care of newborn children, is just as important as prenatal care. A newborn baby is virtually defenseless and relies on the parents to help it grow and mature. Essential steps must be taken by mom and dad to do the right thing when it comes to caring for their young child. This lesson will touch base on two aspects related to postnatal care: sudden infant death syndrome and the debate between breastfeeding vs. baby formula.

Breastfeeding vs. Baby Formula

Newborn babies have to eat! I don't care if they're human or otherwise. Cute fluffy birds get fed worms by their parents, and fuzzball kittens suckle on milk from their mom. And while kitten formula does exist, in nature, young animals typically derive nutrients and energy from their mother's milk. In nature, humans are no different.

But only fairly recently in human history has the commercialization of baby formula come to fruition. And ever since then, the debate has raged as to what is better for newborns: breast milk or formula. What do you think? Do you think Mother Nature still knows best or have our intelligent brains finally come up with something even better than a mother's milk?

It may not surprise you when I say that as usual, mother does know best. Be it your mother or Mother Nature. Breastfeeding is considered to be the superior choice, and it may be interesting to note that it's not only found to be beneficial for newborns compared to formula, but also to the mother herself.

Break milk is considered to be the best choice of exclusive nutrition for a baby's first six months of life. After the introduction of other food, most health care professionals recommend breastfeeding until the child is at least one year of age. Why? Because breast milk has the right mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Now, you may say that baby formula also has that. And, yes, it does, but breast milk has an additional unique mix of everything from enzymes, vitamins, and minerals to hormones and antibodies infants need to be healthy and stay protected from disease. This is something baby formula cannot recreate. And here's just one reason why:

One of the ingredients, if you will, of a mother's breast milk is antibodies. These are little proteins found in breast milk that help a baby fight off very dangerous infections by bugs like viruses. You can compare antibodies to shields that protect a baby against ('anti-') the bad '-bodies' of bugs trying to hurt the baby. Babies are not born with all of these important antibodies found in a mother's milk, and it will be a while before their bodies can manufacture enough of their own antibodies. So, newborns are dependent on their mother's breast milk for protection.

And what's even more interesting is that a mother's breast milk is unique to her life and geographical location. What I mean is, a mother will be exposed to different bugs throughout her life depending on where she lives. This means the mother will develop a specific combination of antibodies custom built by her body against the bugs she encountered in her life and geographic area.

Since the baby is born where the mother lives, it is that baby's mother's breast milk, not a mother living thousands of miles away and not a standardized baby formula, which is best suited to protect the baby from the dangerous bugs around him or her. This is something baby formula cannot replicate. The benefits of breast milk over formula are far more numerous than we have time to list, but here are just a few more positives:

  • Protection against the development of diabetes and even certain cancers in children
  • Protection against the development of childhood obesity
  • A higher IQ in children
  • A decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer for the mother
  • Decreased postpartum bleeding in the mother

Now, one small catch is that breastfeeding is not advisable under some limited conditions, such as mothers who have HIV. Overall, though, breastfeeding is considered to be superior to formula.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

With that debate settled, let's move on to another debate. It's sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. This is defined as the unexplained and sudden death of a baby less than one year of age, often during sleep. It is sometimes called 'crib death' because the children often times die in their cribs. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants aged one month to one year, but most deaths occur between the ages of two months and four months.

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