HSHS St. Mary's recognizes National Breastfeeding Month in August and World Breastfeeding Week which was held Aug. 1-7, and the benefits of breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that breastfeeding is supposed to work almost like a newborn’s first vaccine, providing vital antibodies and an immunity boost through the mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding, whether by the breast or pumping breast milk, is important to an infant as it provides protection against many illnesses while also supporting bonding between the mother and baby.
- 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 such as ear infections, asthma and gastrointestinal infections, among others.
- Breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers as well. Mothers who breastfeed tend to, recover from childbirth faster, and are at a lower risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.
HSHS St. Mary's has help available for mothers needing additional support to be successful in their breastfeeding journey. For more information about breastfeeding classes and lactation consultants visit here.
For even more information about breastfeeding, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/.