Why is Breast Milk so Great?
Breast milk is nature’s perfect food for babies. But have you ever wondered what is in breast milk and why it’s so great? Here’s some introductory information to get you started.
If there’s one topic that can spark an instant debate among any group of moms, it’s breastfeeding. The decision of whether or not to breastfeed your newborn is a very personal one. To that end, breastfeeding offers a number of positive benefits for both mother and child.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of breast milk, what’s in it, and why it matters:
Think about it. Essentially, breast milk has undergone generations of development in the laboratory of good ol’ Mother Nature. Your body is design to produce the perfect food tailored just for your individual baby. How cool is that?
Breast milk has an unmatched ability to transform adapt to the needs of your individual baby at different stages of growth and development. And numerous studies show that there is no true substitute that can compare with the benefits of breast milk.
Formula, on the other hand, is a substitute for breast milk. While formula can meet the minimum nutritional requirements of your baby, it is not the ideal food. Formula contains vitamins and minerals for your baby’s health, but it lacks many substances found in breast milk that can boost your baby’s health and immune system.
Examples of the health-boosting substances found in breast milk include antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells. This assistance from breast milk is extremely important in your newborn baby’s first few months of life, when his or her developing immune system is unable to mount an effective response to against foreign organisms.
Breast Milk is Nature’s Perfect Food for Babies
Studies continue to find new benefits of breastfeeding all the time. Let’s use colostrum as an example of the absolutely outstanding way a woman’s body creates the perfect food for her baby:
Colostrum is the first liquid produced by a mother. Production of colostrum normally begins during the second trimester of pregnancy. It differs from breast milk in both appearance and density, as it is normally thicker than breast milk and has a yellowish tint.
Colostrum contains a high concentration of antibodies called secretory immunoglobulin. These antibodies are designed to help your newborn baby develop a healthy immune system and stave off illnesses and infections.
Colostrum also very easy for newborn babies to digest, aids in excretion of excess bilirubin, and helps prevent jaundice.
The primary antibody found in breast milk is Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA). This antibody helps protect your newborn from illnesses that may enter the body through the gastrointestinal or respiratory tract. Babies are born with low levels of IgA antibodies.
As your baby grows over the following weeks and months, the levels of IgA antibodies in his or her body grow as well. Breastfeeding allows babies to acquire higher levels of IgA antibodies from the very beginning.
Many studies have also demonstrated a direct relationship between breastfeeding and a child’s intelligence and cognitive abilities. Basically, babies who were breastfed for the first year of life have higher IQs than babies that were formula fed. Other studies show that breastfed babies have lower instances of ear infections and other illnesses than their formula-fed peers. Breastfed babies also have a much lower instance of developing food allergies and related gastrointestinal disorders.
Breastfeeding has Numerous Benefits for Mothers
Scientific research shows that breastfeeding has numerous benefits for your health, as well. Breastfeeding burns extra calories throughout the day, helping mothers to lose pregnancy weight faster than they would otherwise (all other things equal).
Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers have much lower instances of reproductive cancers such as ovarian and uterine cancer. And breastfeeding provides a unique bond between mother and baby, fostering an environment of closeness and nurturing that is difficult to replicate. And Prolactin, the body’s milk-making hormone, is known to produce a special calmness in mothers.