Mind and Body: Breastfeeding is a baby’s best start to life

Published 9:35 am Monday, July 30, 2018

By Kayla Sellers

Breastfeeding Peer Counselor

Medical professionals and scientists all agree, breastfeeding is the superior food for babies.

The nutrition breast milk provides is unlike anything that can be recreated. But breast milk doesn’t just provide babies with the best nutrition, it also provides them with protection from illnesses, due to the antibodies they are provided with colostrum, or as it’s often called, “liquid gold.”

Colostrum is mother’s first milk, which starts to be produced during the second trimester of pregnancy, and is ready to go on the day of the baby’s birth. It gets its nickname because it is a superfood for babies, and tends to be yellow/gold in coloring.

Colostrum is a powerhouse of nutrients and antibodies, which begin protecting the baby from the very start.

Colostrum is often called “baby’s first vaccines” due to the protective properties it provides. It is full of antibodies and white blood cells, which is what helps protect the baby from illnesses.

This is so beneficial because a baby’s immune system is immature and needs help fighting off the germs they encounter. Colostrum also helps protect against jaundice, as it is a natural laxative, and helps the baby pass meconium.

Although colostrum only lasts three to four days after birth, the mother’s mature breast milk also continues to protect the baby.

As the mother’s milk begins to transition, her baby is still provided with the perfect protection and nutrition, which is tailored just for her baby. As the baby nurses, the mother’s body picks up on the properties in the baby’s saliva, including the germs that the baby has encountered. This allows the mother’s breast milk to be designed perfectly, which will include antibodies to protect the baby from whichever germs they were exposed to.

Aside from the protection the breast milk provides, the mother’s body also knows exactly what her baby needs. As a baby grows, the nutritional content of the mother’s breast milk will also change, to meet the baby’s needs as they change.

For premature infants, the mother’s milk will also be altered to provide the extra boost that they require.

The protection doesn’t stop when the baby has weaned. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from ear, respiratory, or gastrointestinal infections and have a reduced SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk.

As they grow, infants who were breastfed are less likely to develop certain childhood cancers, asthma, allergies, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. Some studies even show that it could increase their IQ.

Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for your baby and has many benefits for you as well. To learn more about breastfeeding or need support, call the Clark County Health Department breastfeeding peer counselor program at 744-4482. The program provides breastfeeding information and support to pregnant and breastfeeding WIC participants, to help mothers meet their breastfeeding goals.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations and home health care. For more information, call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.

You can also “like” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clark-County-Health-Department.