(O’Fallon, IL) – During National Breastfeeding Month this August, and specifically World Breastfeeding Week Aug. 1-7, the Women and Infants Center at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital reminds new and expectant mothers about the importance of breastfeeding.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 75% of mothers breastfeed their newborns, but the number of infants who are still breastfed exclusively drops to 13% by the time they are six months old. Studies show that babies who are not breastfed exclusively for the first six months are more likely to develop allergies, childhood obesity, colds, flu and ear infections.
The normal and natural food for a newborn baby is breast milk. Their need for breast milk continues as they grow. The following are a few benefits of breastfeeding:
Breast milk is liquid gold. Colostrum, known as liquid gold, is the thick yellow breast milk that mothers make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her stomach can hold.
Breast milk changes as your baby grows. Colostrum changes into what is called mature milk. By the third to fifth day after birth, this mature breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein to help your baby continue to grow. It is a thinner type of milk than colostrum, but it provides all the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs.
Breast milk is easier to digest. For most babies, especially premature babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula. The proteins in formula are made from cow’s milk and it takes time for babies’ stomachs to adjust to digesting them.
Breast milk fights disease. The cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. In fact, among formula-fed babies, ear infections and diarrhea are more common. Formula-fed babies also have higher risks of lower respiratory infections, asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“St. Elizabeth’s is proud to offer support and education for moms and babies throughout their breastfeeding journey,” said Childbirth Educator and Lactation Counselor Julie Brooks, RN, BSN, CLC. “In addition to the monthly Breastfeeding Fundamentals class offered as part of the hospital’s prenatal classes for expectant mothers, certified lactation counselors are on staff to offer support to both inpatients and outpatients.”
For breastfeeding questions or concerns, please call St. Elizabeth’s Women and Infants Center at 618-234-2120, ext. 31260 or to register to attend a breastfeeding class, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about breastfeeding, visit http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/.