Disease Proof

Research: Traditional Breast-Feeding Better

A new study has determined that a traditional breast-feeding schedule is better than a “baby-led” routine. Joene Hendry of Reuters reports:
The traditional breast-feeding approach involves breast-feeding using both breasts at each feeding for no more than 10 minutes per breast.

They found that infants were more likely to be exclusively breast-fed for up to 12 weeks when their mothers followed traditional rather than baby-led breast-feeding practices.

Furthermore, feeding more than 10 minutes from the first breast was associated with poor weight gain during the first 6 to 8 weeks of exclusive breast-feeding, the researchers report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Traditional methods take advantage of the physiological mechanisms of breast-feeding, Walshaw said. The regular, short-term use of both breasts at each feeding conditions the let-down reflex. Moreover, draining milk from both breasts at each feeding inhibits the slowing of milk production in an unused breast, and takes advantage of the higher fat and protein content of early-released milk from each breast.

By contrast, baby-led breast-feeding can decondition the let-down reflex through prolonged suckling at each feed, and can gradually enhance lesser milk production by using only one breast at each feeding.
Maybe so, because according to the report baby-led breast-feeding is not backed up by evidence-based lactation physiology. Nevertheless, remember Dr. Fuhrman’s breast-feeding advice. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.
Okay moms, what do you think? For me, the breast-feedings schedule approach makes the most sense, not sure why, just my gut feeling—opinions?
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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Janna - April 21, 2008 2:13 PM

Schedules may work for some people, but not me. I've breastfed my 2 kids for a total of 4 years and still counting. We've always had an "on-demand" schedule. Sometimes they want to nurse every 10 minutes, sometimes they want to go 4 hours. They're healthy, happy, intelligent kids.

Breastfeeding is just a good decision, whether scheduled or not, in my opinion. How and when to do it seems like splitting hairs, kind of like "Which is better...broccoli or kale?"

Gerry Pugliese - April 21, 2008 2:25 PM

Hey Janna-

Great wit! :)

Thanks for chiming in. As a guy, I'm a little dopey about this issue.


Sara - April 21, 2008 5:01 PM

I have worked with breastfeeding education, and am rather appalled by this--I have seen many women turn to formula, because their baby was not satisfied following the "traditional" (though actually very new, in the scope of humankind) method. Milk production goes by supply and demand, you nurse the baby when it is hungry and the body follows suit with milk production (to be more precise, milk removal stimualtes production). You do not know how much the baby needs unless you follow its cues! Some need to eat more than others.

Bridget - April 22, 2008 5:43 PM

As a Lactation consultant, I greatly disagree with you sir. As Sara, commented...the baby is best fed on cue...the point of mother breastfeeding aside from the incredible nutrient intake. Having also breastfed both of my children for approximately 2 years each, I experienced some difficulty in keeping up with their appetites, but these were short lived spurts and never once did my children fall behind 'average weight.' This, unfortunately sounds like a post from a man 'scientist' like Dr. Spock that thinks you should train humans like dogs. The natural ebb and flow of life and its needs is ALWAYS superior to a forced cycle. And every mother and child are different.

Gerry Pugliese - April 22, 2008 5:46 PM

Hey Bridget-

Calm down, I'm just throwing it out there for discussion.


Bridget - April 23, 2008 7:11 PM

I am calm...we have to have subjects that generate passion. Discussion, opinions, make the world go around. I do, however, see this as how a male would see breastfeeding..ha! Anyway, thanks for the post...this form of communication allows people to hear many sides of a story and hopefully, paired with their own experience, they can make more educated decisions than in times past.



Debbie - November 1, 2008 4:30 PM

Everything I have read about breastfeeding indicates the first milk to be expressed -- the "foremilk" -- is more watery, and the "hindmilk" is higher in fat and fat-based nutrients like DHA. The higher calories in the hindmilk are also needed to satisfy the baby's hunger. I think ten minutes per breast would ensure the baby gets mostly foremilk. Lactation consultants, can you steer me in the right direction here? I'll be breastfeeding in a few short months.

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