22 Apr Why Breastfeeding Is Truly Best
As a new mom, you’ve heard it a million times…..breastfeeding is best…..breast is best…..breast is best. Breastmilk is one of the most amazing things we make (besides our beautiful children) that we should not easily give up on.
First off, breast milk varies between each mom. It’s a perfect combination in macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and has tons of vitamins and minerals. The fats that are in breast milk is amazing. Dr. Sears explains here why the certain types of fats in breast milk are some of the best,
“The special kind of fat in human milk is important to brain development. As newborn babies grow, the nerves are covered with a substance called myelin which helps the nerves transmit messages to other nerves throughout the brain and body. To develop high-quality myelin, the body needs certain types of fatty acids–linoleic and linolenic–which are found in large amounts in human milk.”
There are antibodies that are in breast milk to help protect the baby from illness, especially during the first couple weeks post-birth. The white blood cells that are in breast milk can help get all white blood cells together when there is an infection, so they can stop the bacteria in its tracks. The leukocytes also promote the making of lysozyme, which destroys the bacteria by interrupting their cell walls. There is a protein called lactoferrin in breast milk can stop pathogens various ways. It can stop digestion of carbohydrates from the bacteria (which is their fuel to spread) and it can make iron not available, which some bacteria need iron to spread throughout the body.
What is so amazing about breastmilk is that is changes with the baby. Breast milk for a baby is different from breast milk for a toddler. The first milk produced by mom, called colostrum, is FULL of essential nutrients and antibodies to protect the newborn. Even though there isn’t much, it’s so dense of nutrition that’s why it’s called ‘liquid gold’. Hands down, one of the best things we can give our babies. Inside breast milk there are specific enzymes to help digest and absorb the nutrients. These special enzymes can also help support your baby’s metabolism and hormone production & regulation in their endocrine system.
Breast milk is also very bioavailable to their body. I love how Dr. Sears describes the bioavailabity of these nutrients in breast milk,
“The three important minerals calcium, phosphorus, and iron are present in breastmilk at lower levels than in formula, but in breastmilk these minerals are present in forms that have high bioavailability. For example, 50 to 75 percent of the iron in breastmilk is absorbed by the baby. With formula, as little as four percent of the iron is absorbed into baby’s bloodstream. To make up for the low bioavailability of factory-added vitamins and minerals, formula manufactures raise the concentrations. Sounds reasonable, right? If only half gets absorbed by the body, put twice as much into the can. Yet, this nutrient manipulation may have a metabolic price.
Baby’s immature intestines are required to dispose of the excess. Meanwhile, the excess unabsorbed minerals (especially iron) can upset the “ecology of the gut,” interfering with the growth of healthful bacteria and allowing harmful bacteria to flourish. This is another reason formula-fed infants have harder, more unpleasant smelling stools.”
Gut Health And Breast Milk
Breast milk is full of probiotics that will help a baby’s gut become full of those good bacteria. This study showed that breast milk helped intestinal bacteria growth. Breast milk also has prebiotics, which help feed those good bacteria in the gut. Babies guts are open during their first 6 months of life for easy absorption of breastmilk.
Side Note: This is another reason why solid foods should NOT be introduced before six months. There is an increased risk of diabetes, leaky gut, eczema, allergies when foods are introduced too early because the gut is still open and undigested food particles (among other things) can make its way through the gut, throughout the body, and into the brain.
The antibodies that are naturally in breast milk will also protect and keep the mucosal lining intact. Breast milk can reduce the risk of getting leaky gut, SIDS, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other various infections by supplying the body with good bacteria and essential nutrients. I always say a happy gut is a healthy human. 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut, so it’s ESSENTIAL to putting gut health as a priority. Breast milk is one of the best ways to start your baby’s health off to a good start. A study in the Breastfeeding Review showed that the benefits of breastfeeding infants will go beyond infancy, but throughout their life.
Isn’t it amazing how something us moms create is SO powerful? If this doesn’t show how amazing the human body is and what our body can do, I don’t know what does! If you are having trouble with breastfeeding your baby, I recommend finding a local LLLI (La Leche League) meeting around you to get the support you need to pull through some of the most trying times of being a mom. I know it’s not the easiest thing to do as a mom, but it definitely is the most rewarding.
Blessings to you & your babies,