Mind and Body: Breastfeeding is the gold standard

Published 11:27 am Monday, May 14, 2018

By Kayla Sellers

Breastfeeding Peer Counselor

Medical professionals across the globe agree breastfeeding is the best choice for infant feeding.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no other food or drink, unless medically necessary), then continuing to breastfeed for a minimum of one year, and beyond. This has been considered the gold standard for infant nutrition.

A mother’s first milk, colostrum, is ready on the day of the baby’s birth because her body began producing it in the second trimester of pregnancy. Colostrum is often called “liquid gold” not only because of its yellow coloring, but because it is a superfood for babies.

Colostrum comes in concentrated amounts filled with antibodies to protect the baby from illness and prepare the baby’s digestive system. Colostrum is a powerhouse of nutrients and is wonderful for every baby.

Somewhere between two and five days postpartum, the mother’s milk will gradually change from colostrum to breast milk. Although the mother will no longer have colostrum, the breast milk she will make is still exactly what her baby will need.

Breast milk will continue to be filled with antibodies, to protect the baby from illness, but its also composed of the perfect amount of fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and other nutrients the baby needs.

The awesome thing about breast milk is that it is custom made, just for the mother’s baby. Each mother’s milk will have a different composition, as it will be made just for her baby, based on their individual needs.

Breast milk even changes from day-to-day, as the baby’s needs change.

Breastfeeding through infancy provides the baby with a variety of protective properties. A baby who is breastfed for two months has a significantly lowered risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well as a lowered risk of allergies later in life.

Continuing to breastfeed will further decrease the risk of SIDS and allergies, while continuing to protect baby from germs they encounter every day.

Around three to four months of breastfeeding, baby’s risk of childhood Type 1 diabetes is decreased. The benefits of breast milk never fade. It will always be beneficial for the baby.

At the six-month breastfeeding milestone, the baby now has a greater reduced risk of ear infections and childhood leukemia.

Not only has the baby benefitted greatly from the six months, but the mother has as well. After just six months of breastfeeding, moms have a decreased risk of breast cancer. Mother’s risk of breast cancer continues to decrease for every additional six months she breastfeeds.

Continuing to breastfeed from six months to one year and beyond gives the baby and the mother astonishing benefits.

Researchers are still discovering even more benefits of breastfeeding. They really are endless.

Breastfeeding until one year provides your baby with lifelong protection from a variety of ailments including, but not limited to, certain cancers, respiratory infections, allergies and obesity.

Breastfeeding also brings emotional and mental benefits for both mom and baby: a strong bond, reduced risk of postpartum depression in mothers, less stress for both mom and baby, and more.

Breastfeeding is an amazing gift that only a mother can give her baby.

Although breastfeeding is wonderful for both mom and baby, it can also be difficult for some mothers.

The Clark County Health Department WIC Program offers the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program for pregnant and breastfeeding WIC participants. To learn more or for support, call 744-4482 for more information.

Visit the Clark County Health Department website at www.clarkhealthdept.org. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @CCHealthDept.