This guest post is written by Hannah Whittenly. She is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.
The evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, indicates that breastfeeding is something you should do as a mother if you can. Of course, you would need to produce a sufficient amount of milk to feed your baby, and you would have to adapt feeding times to allow for the necessary time for your baby to feed. This may include using a pump to capture and store breast milk. Here are some reasons why breastfeeding is so important for your baby.
Your new baby's digestive tract gains protection from pathogenic invaders from the immunoglobulin A (IgA) in colostrum. Your body begins to produce colostrum during the first or second trimester of your pregnancy. You would only know it if some leaked, but it is there. It is ready to boost your baby's immune system to deal with bacteria and other pathogens that your body has already learned to defend against. Since pathogens are unique to the environment where you live, this is like passing on natural protection to the next generation. In addition to the vaccine-like effect, the colostrum also is complete with the necessary nutrients your rapidly growing baby needs.
Tailored and Timed Nutrition
Colostrum is only produced by your body for a short period of time after your baby's birth. Then, the breast milk changes to transitional milk. This has more calories, more fat and higher amounts of the milk sugar called lactose. There is also an increase in the amount of vitamins that are soluble in water such as B12 and C. These are the vitamins that the body can excrete if it gets too much of them. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as E and A, get stored. The next stage in the breastfeeding cycle is mature milk. This milk is about 90 percent water for proper hydration, but the remaining 10 percent contains the proper amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for your baby to grow.
The Gut Microbiome
A tremendous amount of research is being done on the flora that lives in the human gut. Your digestion relies on bacteria present in your intestinal tract. Your body is made up of about a trillion cells. You have many times that amount in bacteria and fungi that live in your gut. When gut flora is in balance, your immune system works better. This can protect you from everything from allergies to cancer. Your baby's gut flora, being established by microbes present in your breast milk, helps to establish it in a normal fashion. If your baby's gut flora is out of balance, it compromises the immune system and opens up susceptibility to a host of problems, including inflammatory bowel diseases.
Healthy Moms Should Breastfeed
If you are not on any medications that can secrete into breast milk, and you do not have any chronic diseases that could possibly cause a risk to your or your baby through breastfeeding, then there is little reason to not do it. If you have any question of whether or not you are able to breastfeed, then consultation with a medical professional at a family clinic, such as Entira Family Clinics, is best. If you think breastfeeding may be inconvenient, consider that there is no mixing, warming or prep of any kind. Plus, there is no cost for buying cans of formula. That can save you a small fortune alone. If you return to work, you can pump breast milk for feedings when you are not home. Then, there is the bond of feeding your own child from your own body and watching him or her grow in stature and strength.
Idaho is the only state that does not have any laws protecting women who breastfeed in public. The rest of the states either allow women to breastfeed anywhere at any time or their public nudity and indecency laws exempt mothers who are breastfeeding their babies. President Obama's Affordable Care Act even amended the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to make it so employers need to provide sufficient breaks to female employees to express milk to feed their babies. There is no stigma to breastfeeding, and the overall protective health benefits for your baby cannot even be fully measured. So, if you can, you should choose to breastfeed your newborn.