Update HSHS to remain in-network for Illinois Aetna click here to read more

Breast milk provides unique benefits to infants

August 21, 2023 

HSHS St. Francis Hospital recognizes National Breastfeeding Month in August by sharing information about breast milk benefits and the positive bonding experience between mother and baby.

Shannon Maddaleno, BSN, RNC-OB, nurse manager of St. Francis Hospital’s Family Maternity Center, says a mother’s milk provides a newborn with vital antibodies and an immunity boost as the infant grows. “Breastfeeding is important to an infant as it provides protection against many short- and long-term illnesses, whether given by the breast or by pumping breast milk,” said. “It is also important in providing bonding time between mom and baby.” 

Breastfeeding Benefits
  • Breast milk fights disease. The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness such as ear infections, asthma, type 1 diabetes and gastrointestinal infections, among others.
  • 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 is often called liquid gold. Colostrum, often referred to as ‘liquid gold,’ is the thick yellow breast milk that mothers make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect baby. Although 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 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 a baby continue to grow. It is a thinner type of milk than colostrum, but it provides all the nutrients and antibodies a baby needs.
  • Breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers. Mothers who breastfeed tend to recover from childbirth faster and are at a lower risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months - and then, continuing breastfeeding while introducing soft foods until a child is 24 months or older.

Breastfeeding Support
For mothers needing additional support to be successful in their breastfeeding journey, HSHS St. Francis Hospital’s Family Maternity Center offers support and education to mothers by calling 217-324-8473. 

HSHS St. Francis Hospital also offers support and education to mothers through an online Breastfeeding Support Group through Facebook facilitated by experienced lactation consultants. This is great way to share experiences and ask questions. Those interested in joining this online Breastfeeding Support Group need to have a Facebook login and then search Facebook for “HSHS St. Francis Breastfeeding Support Group” and request to join. 

The Family Maternity Center is designated a Silver Safe Sleep Hospital through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver organization and Cribs for Kids Program and recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois with a Blue Distinction® Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care designation, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. It is also a Certified Baby-Friendly Hospital by the WHO and UNICEF, one of only approximately 600 designated hospitals in the U.S. The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. 

Maddaleno added, “Being recognized as a Baby-Friendly and a Safe Sleep hospital shows that our staff work diligently to provide all of the necessary education, support and techniques for our moms and babies. We are proud to provide this high-quality care to our community”

For mothers who cannot or chose not to breastfeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends feeding an infant formula that is specifically made for babies and is iron-fortified, which means vitamins and minerals are added. The CDC does not recommend using homemade infant formula; a baby’s nutritional needs are very specific and may not be met with the use of a homemade formula recipe.

As always, if you have concerns or questions about breastfeeding or formula feeding, talk with your doctor or pediatrician.
Breast milk provides unique benefits to infants