(by Brandi Jalbert, RN, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, Labor and Delivery)
Breastfeeding your children has so many benefits for the infant, mother and our environment. A woman’s body is built for breastfeeding. The milk produced by the mother is specially made for her infant.
Throughout a woman’s pregnancy, her body starts getting ready to breastfeed. The first milk she makes for her infant post-delivery is called colostrum. Colostrum is a clear to yellow fluid that meets a baby’s needs for the first few days of life. Colostrum helps boost baby’s immune system, lower his or her chances of jaundice, and helps baby have his or her first bowel movement.
Within 3-5 days after giving birth, mom’s body will start to produce breast milk. Breast milk helps baby’s brain to develop and contains antibodies that help to prevent baby from getting sick, decrease incidence of asthma and allergies, dental caries, and it help to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. Breast milk continues to protect baby long after breastfeeding is stopped. Baby’s risk of being overweight, becoming diabetic and even developing some cancers can drop if he or she has been breastfed.
Mothers’ bodies benefit from breastfeeding, too. The risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer can drop significantly if a mom breastfeeds her babies. The chances of osteoporosis later in life are also reduced. Breastfeeding moms have fewer instances of postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, and have better emotional health in general. Breastfeeding also promotes postpartum weight loss, which helps moms return to their pre-pregnancy weight quicker. Mothers of breastfed babies miss less work after maternity leave because their babies are healthier over all.
Breastfeeding even keeps our environment healthy by preventing more formula packaging in landfills and preventing excess processing.
Breast really is best for all.
Included below are some helpful resources for all moms, whether you are a past, present or future breast feeder: