You are what you eat…and so is your baby

Practical Advice from a Doctors Without Borders Nurse
August 9, 2017
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You are what you eat…and so is your baby

Asian baby drinking breastmilk

 

“As a mother of a baby born in 1973 when nobody was breastfeeding, I didn’t know why, but I instinctively knew breastfeeding was the best thing to do.” After my first son was born, I went back to school to become a nurse. During my interview I said, “I’m not interested in sick people, but I want to work with new moms and babies.” So, I worked in labor and delivery for 10 years. During my time on the labor and delivery floor I dedicated all of my free time to helping new mothers initiate breastfeeding. I realized this was my true passion, so I became a certified lactation consultant and have been helping mothers and babies ever since.

Today, I want to share four things you might not know about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is good for your baby (and you!)Do what’s best for mom and baby

  • Breastmilk has cells, hormones, and antibodies that help protect your baby from illnesses. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have asthma, ear infections, diarrhea and vomiting, and lower respiratory infections.
  • Breastfeeding can help your baby feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Physical contact also increases a mother’s oxytocin levels, which can help breastmilk flow.
  • Breastfeeding helps a mother heal after childbirth. It also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding is adaptable

  • Your baby’s saliva transfers chemicals to a mother’s body that causes breastmilk to adjust to meet the changing needs of your baby as they grow.
  • The first milk that a mother’s body makes during pregnancy and just after birth is called colostrum. It is a deep yellow color and is very rich in nutrients that helps your newborn baby’s digestive system grow and function.
  • Mature breastmilk has the right combination of fat, sugar, water, and protein so your baby continues to grow.

Breastfeeding can save your baby’s life during a natural disaster

  • Breastfeeding can protect your baby from illnesses caused by dirty water, including diarrhea. It can also help prevent respiratory illnesses.
  • When you breastfeed your baby will always have milk available without have access to additional supplies.
  • Breastmilk is always at the right temperature and can help keep your baby’s body temperature from dropping too low.

Breastfeeding benefits societyWorld Breastfeeding Logo

  • Babies who are breastfed usually go to the doctor for sick visits less often, need to take fewer prescription medications, and are less likely to go to the hospital.
  • Mothers who breastfeed miss less work to take care of their sick babies, compared to moms who feed their baby formula.
  • Milk is a renewable resource that does not create trash and plastic waste from things like formula cans and bottle supplies.

Learn more

August 1 – 7 is the 25th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week. This year the campaign is focused on “sustaining breastfeeding – together” and the important role of support at all levels for successful breastfeeding.

Credits: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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