“I am honored that he is alive and I can still breastfeed. I will always remember the gift of life and the lessons I learned through his tough beginning!”
Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish a newborn and build a bond between mother and child. Both the mother’s and baby’s bodies are codependent and benefit from the act of breastfeeding. Mothers who breastfeed, for example, at are a lower risk for the future development of breast and ovarian cancers.
Recently, baby formulas substituted the use of breast milk. This then created a decrease in the practice of natural breastfeeding. As formulas became more common with the help of advertising, new mothers were often confused as to what was the best for their baby. Truth is, there is no better source of nutrition and immune support for an infant than his/her mother’s milk. Breast milk is specially tailored to fit an infant’s nutritional needs. It even changes in composition as the infant grows and those needs change. If breastfeeding is an option, then it should be the mother’s first choice for feeding her infant.
The Biological Bond:
The mother and infant bodies respond to one-another in numerous ways. The rooting reflex of newborns, for example, describes the innate behavior of a newborn to make sucking motions. These motions help it latch on to the mother’s breast and feed. The mother’s body also innately responds to their newborn, as seen in the let-down reflex. The let-down reflex refers to a mother’s ability to produce milk in response to her baby’s sucking on the breast. At times even the crying from a baby can trigger this reflex and begin the process of milk ejection from the mother.
The baby’s sucking of the mother’s breast triggers a series on physiological responses that ends in milk production. The stimulation from sucking triggers the release of the hormones prolactin (for milk production) and oxytocin (for contraction of lobules where milk is held) (1). This only highlights the biological link that exists between mother and infant. Physiology aside, breastfeeding mothers often report feeling closer to their child and establishing a connection through breastfeeding.
The Breast Milk:
A mother’s breast milk provides the best-tailored nutrition for a developing child, providing enhanced immunity, and intestinal modulation (1)(2). The composition of the breast milk actually changes as a child develops and his/her nutritional needs changes. For example, at the beginning of lactation, the breast milk contains a higher concentration of protein than later in the baby’s development (1)(2).
A mother’s breast milk is almost always appropriate to meet her infant’s nutritional demands even when she does not meet them herself (2). Some studies even suggest that breastfeeding a child reduces his/her chances of developing metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
New and Expecting Mothers:
It is important to acknowledge that while breastfeeding is natural, it is still a skill that must be practiced. In fact, many new mothers find themselves struggling to breastfeed. It is common for infants to have trouble latching to the breast. The initial feeding process may also be painful for the mother, However, it tends to become less painful with practice (1).
There is a lot of information out there and individuals giving mothers advice about their childrens’ nutrition. It is important to receive your information regarding breastfeeding from reliable sources including healthcare professionals like physicians and registered dietitians.
New and expecting mothers usually require careful nutrition habits. Visit CORE to speak to our Nutrition Consultants or Registered Dietitian and find out what’s best for your baby! Similarly, expecting mothers can receive a prenatal massage with one of our many massage therapists!
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Adam, Maya. “Stanford’s Short Course on Breastfeeding.” Coursera.org, Stanford University, www.coursera.org/learn/breastfeeding.
Martin, Camilia R., Pei-Ra Ling, and George L. Blackburn. 2016. “Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula.” Nutrients 8 (5): 279. doi:10.3390/nu8050279. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu8050279.