Mother’s milk versus animal milk
It is established that we have a lot of scope in promoting our national breastfeeding status and especially exclusive breast feeding rate. Despite proper message delivery and counseling practice of giving formula milk and animal milk (particularly cow's and goat's milk) is still a trend in infant feeding in our community. Even almost all mothers know and believe that nothing is a substitute or superior to human milk they switch to other milk for varieties of reasons. This article is aimed to remind you the well-established fact of superiority of human milk by comparing its nutrition value to animal milk.
Fatty acid: Human milk contains essential fatty acid (linoleic acid) which is vital to brain development, eye and blood vessel structuration. Animal milk is full of many non-essential fatty acids but lacks essential fatty acid, which our body can't produce and must be supplied from food. Animal milk is also devoid of adequate fat digesting enzyme lipase which results in difficulty in fat digestion.
Protein: Animal milk has a higher proportionate of protein but paradoxically it is qualitatively harmful. Casein, a protein component is turned into curd like structure in the stomach, which is tough to digest. It causes loose motion, abdominal pain, itching and other symptoms. Again casein is problematic for an infant's kidney to excrete. Animal milk protein contains 80% casein, while luckily human milk does only 35% of it.
Lactose: Lactose that is essential for brain formation and development is more in human milk markedly. It makes a baby sharp and intelligent. It also helps in calcium absorption from the gut thus reduces the chance of rickets.
Iron: although animal milk comprises more iron, only 10% of it is absorbed. But 50% of human milk iron enters into the body. While in formula milk excess iron is fortified. This ultimately harms the baby. Another important thing is to be noted that human milk iron is adequate for the baby up to first six months and complementary feed containing iron must be started afterward.
Vitamins: Human milk contains all necessary vitamins while animal milk lacks vitamin C. Vitamin C rich food should be offered to all baby after six months to prevent vitamin C deficiency disorders (like scurvy).
Anti-infective substances: White blood cells and various antibodies in human milk help the baby in preventing many infections like loose motion, respiratory infections, ear infections, meningitis and urinary infections etc. Animal milk is devoid of anti-infective properties.
Minerals: Animal milk contains excess of calcium and phosphate, but too much phosphate hampers calcium absorption resulting in calcium deficiency problem like tetany. Mother's milk is rational in context of calcium and phosphate absorption.
So, it is obvious that human milk is the most suitable and rational for an infant's growth and development, not animal milk. To get most of the nutrients mother should know a very easy trick. The former portion of mother's milk is full of water, protein and carbohydrate. It meets his hydration need. Later part of milk contains more fat. It is thicker, helpful in appreciating appetite and weight gain. So, let the baby suck one breast completely first then another breast to gather the entire nutrient proportionately.