Cow’s milk: Do we Really Think that our Children Grow Better with It? Or is it Just a Comfortable Commonplace Behind Which to Hide?

Cow’s milk: Do we Really Think that our Children Grow Better with It? Or is it Just a Comfortable Commonplace Behind Which to Hide?

Cow’s Milk: is it Really Better for my Child? Does it really benefit our children and should it be given in place of breast milk?

 

Is cow’s milk better than breast milk?

Your child is too old to breastfeed, you should give him cow’s milk instead! 

Sounds familiar? Here is my question:
Why should I allow a creature of another kind to provide milk for my child, when my body is  biologically designed to do just that?

Because in case you did not notice, I am a mammal, same as a cow. Why another specie’s milk is fine beyond the year, but mine, (which is tailored to my child’s specific needs, which is constantly changing and adapting to his developing requirements) is not?

And here is another one:

” You will regret breastfeeding so long; your breast will change.”

After 6 consecutive years of breastfeeding I really heard all kind of comments regarding this topic, whether directed to me or others. But I must admit, these are the most annoying.

Number one: people tend to assume that if your child is still breastfeeding after a certain age, he doesn’t eat or drink almost anything else. News flash: my three years old which I am currently still breastfeeding, started solids at 6 months, today she eats absolutely everything with no fuss and guess what? She even drinks cow’s milk! Same goes for my 6 years old son, who self-weaned at the age of 3 years and half. Breastfeeding didn’t affect either of my children’s eating habits, didn’t make them fussy eaters or compromised their growth in any way.

My guess: there are many other breastfed children out there just like them.

Number two: are we so sure that the breasts get damaged during breastfeeding? Do we trust the hearsay, or did we do actual research? Because to tell the truth, if the breast does “structurally” change, it does so during the nine months of pregnancy and not because of breastfeeding.

But let’s go back to the cow’s milk vs breast milk debate, even though the way I see it, there shouldn’t even be one.

What is milk?

In nature, milk (fluid rich in fat and protein secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.) is the food intended for the growth of Mammals’ cubs, and the milk of each species goes to the exclusive benefit of that species; this is evident from the different composition of the various types of milk.

Regarding Mammals, as we know, the act of nursing their puppies is the manifestation of a mother-child bond that goes well beyond the simple physiological aspect of nourishment. The same is for humans of course, although this is often overlooked or plain denied by those that encourage mothers to replace breast milk with cow’s milk, after the child reaches a certain age.

But let’s talk about the nutritional properties of milk.

The Milk of all Mammals contains, dissolved in Water, Sugar (Lactose), Protein, Fat, Vitamins and Enzymes, in addition to the Antibodies of the belonging species, but the milk composition differs between the various species of Mammals:
These differences in composition are truly enormous. It goes from the milk of porpoise which contains only 40% of water, to mare’s milk which contains 90%. While mare’s milk has only 1.5% fat, porpoise milk contains 46%. The mare produces a milk richer in lactose than that of cetaceans, while rabbit milk is the richest of all in proteins and mineral salts, and so on.

What is the logic behind these differences?

The most recent researches find a justification in the mother-child relationship, framing it in a large scheme in which two groups of Mammals can be distinguished.
At one end are the Primates, in which the new-born is completely dependent on the mother and in continuous contact. The milk of these species is relatively watery and low in fat and protein, and the cub, always attached to the mother, nurses very frequently, ingesting small amounts of milk each time. Having a continuous feeding, the little one does not need reserves.

At the other end of the spectrum are all the other Mammals which, after giving birth, hide babies in nests or dens and spend most of their time getting food, only returning at intervals. In this situation, breastfeeding is intermittent and therefore the new-born needs a very substantial milk (slightly watery) and to digest slowly (very fat); moreover, in these species the cub feeds quickly and is satisfied in a few minutes. Even the puppies of the marine mammals need a milk with these characteristics, because of the cold environment, the contacts between mother and baby that are not always easy, and the need to suckle quickly (because underwater, in apnea).

Species-specific milk contains not only all nutrients in optimal proportions for growth, but also Enzymatic substances and antibodies that have the function of increasing the immune defences in a period of life in which an infection could have very serious consequences.
Moreover, no Mammal except Man consumes, in any age of life, the Milk of another species.

In the case of humans, however, the consumption of milk of other species -cow’s milk- from the very first years of life is considered physiological and suitable, despite the fact that cow’s milk – designed for the growth of the calf – is very different in composition compared to a woman’s milk, because:

  • Contains too many proteins: four times more.
  • Contains very different proteins.
  • Contains little Lactose.
  • Has a disadvantageous saturated / unsaturated fat ratio.
  • Contains a percentage of calcium too high.
  • Has a disadvantageous calcium / phosphorus ratio: 1.3: 1 (cow’s milk) vs. 2.4: 1 (human milk).
  • Contains too many Mineral Salts.

 

Let’s rewind for a moment shall we? What did we say in the beginning? Oh yes:

“The milk of each species goes to the exclusive benefit of that species”

Therefore, to every Mammal its own milk I would say.  A rule we, humans, clearly do not follow. Personally I like cow’s milk, I drink it and my kids drink it, what I do not accept is imposing it as a “better” substitute to our precious “breast milk”.

I once heard the definition “abnormal”, referred to a mother that breastfeeds her children into toddler hood and beyond.  Considering these information, let’s see…

– Am I abnormal because I do not choose another specie’s milk for my child, over mine?

– Am I abnormal because I give my human milk to my human cub?

– Am I abnormal because I don’t see my breast as an exclusively sexual object but as what they were really intended for, by nature?

I think not.

Women have been breastfeeding their cubs for millions of years, and they did it for a long time and for as long as possible, certain that their babies would grow at their best because they have been able to experience that first bond, that period of total dependence of being “two” in one.
And let’s not forget that according to the indications of the WHO, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the European Union, breastfeeding should continue for two years and more, in accordance with the desire of the mom and baby.

Breastfeeding is first and foremost the human race survival tool.

 

Our society today is really messed up, and it is straying us further and further away from what is natural, from our instincts.
We Westerners are so convinced of our supremacy on all fronts and at all levels that this has made us dull. We believe that our way of life is the best but only because it is the most widespread.  When I realise instead, that on the theme of motherhood and care for our children, us emancipated women, so educated and successful, we have lost much of our instinct and of our innate trust.
So much so that breastfeeding, from a gesture that has allowed the evolution of the human species is nowadays relegated to be a second choice for those who prefer cow’s milk, why?  Because that’s what all others do! That, has become the norm.

I say, let us inform ourselves, study, research and claim back that basic instinct of the human being. We would greatly benefit from it, and with us our children and the generations to come!

<MsW>

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