By God's grace I've exclusively breastfed our two sons, the first with major challenges, the second going smoothly overall. Naturally, this is a subject I'm very interested in. Some of this research I had already read about when I was scouring the web for help during Abraham's nursing days. Some is new. I thought I'd pass along some of the most interesting info for those interested in learning along with me. Hope this might be fascinating to some other odd parent, too:).
Please note I think there are wise times to use formula (ABM). I think it is sad how over-promoted it is in our country though. My mom and mother-in-law have both talked about how little encouragement there was to breastfeed when they had their babies. It's unfathomable to me how in just a couple generations such a beautiful thing as feeding a little one has become socially uncomfortable and a lost art.
Information and quotes from Breastfeeding, a course by Marie Davis, RN at NetCE.com. Information free to read to all.
Breastfeeding rates have historically dropped in periods of social dazzle and lowered moral standards. However, in times when the society has been stable and hard working, breastfeeding has thrived  .
Over half of the women giving birth today either were not breastfed themselves or were breastfed for only a few weeks or months, often with supplementation beginning at birth. For the last 80 to 90 years, women have been ABM feeding in such great numbers that much of the valuable information once possessed has been (temporarily) lost. During the lifetimes of our mothers and grandmothers--due mostly to profound social changes, but also to smart marketing--bottle feeding became the norm.
Following World War II, when artificial feeding became a viable option, the cultural context of a woman's breasts began to shift from functional to purely sexual.
Research has indicated that women who were educated regarding the risks of not breastfeeding were more likely to commit to breastfeeding compared to women who were only given information regarding the benefits of breastfeeding  . Therefore, it is vital that healthcare professionals include information regarding the risks and disadvantages of ABM in addition to the benefits of breastfeeding when counseling mothers.
It is a common misconception that the baby gets nothing when nursing in the first day or two. Although the baby will get only a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, this amount matches what the baby's stomach (about the size of a marble at birth) is able to hold.No two samples of breast milk are the same, even when taken from the same mother.
Fresh breast milk is a living fluid composed of more than 200 known ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, trace elements, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. It contains 4,000 live cells (mostly leukocytes) per milliliter, which cannot be replaced by artificial feeding.
The components of breastmilk are richer when a baby is preterm. This blows my mind. God designs us to protect the littlest ones in ways we don't even realize - how amazing!
Fat and lipids per deciliter increase as a baby ages. A wonder evolution could never explain...God's beautiful design.
Even the smallest amounts of colostrum should be saved for the baby. Nurses should try to feed breast milk to the baby in the order that it was pumped to assist in the development of the infant gut. (In reference to preterm babies)
All major medical societies in the U.S., including the AAP, have recommended breastfeeding for as long as possible in infancy in order to improve childhood survival rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) guidelines have recommended extending breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years.
The potential healthcare cost savings from breastfeeding in four medical diagnoses were analyzed. Results showed the following potential savings in healthcare costs:
A total of almost $13 billion in potential savings of healthcare dollars is estimated if 90% of parents exclusively breastfed for 6 months.
- Sudden infant death syndrome: $4.7 billion
- Necrotizing entercolitis: $2.6 billion
- Lower respiratory tract infection: $1.8 billion
- Otitis media: $908 million
Known risks associated with ABM (artificial breast milk) include [1,3,60,62,63] :
- Increased gastrointestinal illness (vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration)
- Increased respiratory illnesses (pneumonia, asthma, and respiratory syncytial virus)
- Otitis media (four times more prevalent in the ABM-fed infant)
- Increased likelihood of childhood obesity
- Increased risk of tooth decay (nursing bottle caries)
- Risk of contaminated formula (either at the factory or at home) and ingestion of "allowable" amounts of insect parts, rat hairs, droppings, iron filings, and accidental excesses of chlorine and aluminum
- Severe illness resulting from improper dilution or home additives
- Increased allergies ranging from skin rashes to asthma
- Increased risk of immune system disorders, such as:- Accelerates the development of celiac disease
- Risk factor in adult onset of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Risk factor (2% to 26%) in childhood onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
- Five- to eightfold risk of developing lymphomas in children younger than 15 years of age
- May impair effectiveness of vaccines
- Twentyfold increase in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
- Increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Half of the mothers who initiate breastfeeding prematurely wean within a few days or weeks due to preventable or treatable difficulties.
Because of deep emotional connections, breastfeeding is an emotionally charged issue for healthcare providers. It has been noted that "physicians and nurses are notoriously eager to provide advice, even if their knowledge of, or experience with, the subject is limited"  .