If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, the topic of breastfeeding has probably come up. Maybe you’re determined to do it, maybe the thought makes you nervous or uncomfortable. In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we’d like to share the following information about what breast milk provides to help you make—or feel good about—your decision:
Better Nutrition: Science cannot replicate everything that makes breast milk the ideal food for infants. The vitamins and nutrients in a mother’s breast milk are easier for babies to digest, and it has the perfect amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates required by your baby. Best of all, the composition of your breast milk changes as your baby grows, providing him or her with specific developmental and nutritional needs.
Better Health: Colostrum, the first milk, has high concentrations of antibodies that help protect the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines of your newborn. And breastfed kids are less likely to contract childhood diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer before the age of 15. Breastfeeding can protect your child from asthma, bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections, and breast-fed children have a decreased risk of tooth decay.
Boosted Brain Function: According to recent research, young children who were breastfed as infants scored higher on intelligence tests. Breastfeeding can increase a baby’s brain growth by 20 to 30 percent. The longer and more exclusively children are breastfed, the more intelligent they will become later in life.
Bonding: Breastfeeding and the closeness and comfort that come along with it can strengthen the bond between a mother and her baby. Physical contact is important to babies, as it helps them feel warm and safe. And the skin-to-skin contact boosts the mother’s oxytocin levels—oxytocin is a hormone that helps breast milk flow and can calm the mother.
Better Health for Mom, Too: It’s been proven that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and anemia in mother, and it helps you lose your pregnancy weight.
Still not convinced? You can at least think about giving breastfeeding a try—that colostrum you produce in the first couple of days is called “liquid gold” for a reason.
Need support? There are many breast feeding resources available in Western New York. or you can call us here at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello. Our goal is to help you and your baby get the best possible start in life.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.