(O’Fallon, IL) – During National Breastfeeding Month, and specifically World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is reminding new and expectant mothers about the importance of breastfeeding. The World Health Organization says that breastfeeding works “like a newborn’s first vaccine”, providing vital antibodies and immunity boost through the mother’s milk.
According the U.S. Surgeon General, 75 percent of mothers breastfeed in the immediate newborn period, but the number of infants who are exclusively breastfed drops to 13 percent by the time they are six months old. Studies show that babies who are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months are more likely to develop allergies, childhood obesity, colds, flus, and ear infections and more.
“At St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, we support the CDC and World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. As such, we are committed to helping new mothers succeed in breastfeeding their babies,” said Julie Brooks, RN, BSN, CLC, lactation counselor and childbirth educator. “All of our nurses at St. Elizabeth’s Women and Infant Center provide education and support for breastfeeding moms, both while mom and baby are in the hospital, as well as once they go home if questions arise.”
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 respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers as well. Mothers who breastfeed tend to lose their post-pregnancy weight faster, recover from childbirth faster, and are at a lower risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.
St. Elizabeth’s Women and Infants Center offers breastfeeding classes for expectant and new mothers, as well as their support persons. The class is taught by an RN certified lactation counselor. Each class provides information on preparation for feeding, feeding techniques and common concerns.
For questions or to register for a breastfeeding class at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, call 618-234-2120, ext. 31260, or for more information about breastfeeding please visit http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/ or http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/.