By Erin Rodriguez, Lactation Counselor
August is National Breastfeeding Month. Breast milk is one of the greatest gifts you can give your baby, because it provides all of the nutrients that a baby needs, changing with the baby as he/she grows while providing protection against allergies and a number of infections. A practical benefit of breastfeeding is that you don’t need to worry about sterilizing anything when you feed baby at the breast. And of course, breastfeeding provides a connection with your baby that cannot be replicated.
When a mother first gives birth, she produces a substance called colostrum for up to 5 days after birth. Colostrum is rich in antibodies and helps the newborn’s immune system adjust to the outside world. This does not take the place of vaccines; however, it helps baby stay protected until he or she can begin vaccinations. As baby get older, breast milk will adjust the fat content based on baby’s needs. Also, if the mother is sick, she will produce more antibodies to prevent baby from catching her cold. This is something no formula can duplicate.
When a mother feeds at the breast, she does not need to worry about sterilizing any bottles or nipples. This reduces the risk of infection from items that were not properly washed. It also allows a mother to feed her baby anywhere since she does not need to prepare a bottle or make sure she has water and formula powder available. The convenience of breastfeeding is unmatched.
Breastfeeding is an opportunity to spend uninterrupted time bonding with your child. Since children grow up right before your eyes, enjoying special moments like the time devoted to breastfeeding can never be replaced. Breastfeeding also triggers endorphins that create a happy feeling, which is a plus for mom!
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and baby. Make the time to enjoy breastfeeding your baby. It’s a gift with results that will last a lifetime.