By Jenn Foster, MA, IBCLC, RLC
We’ve all heard that “breast is best”…but, why? What’s so different about breast milk anyway? Is it really that important? The answer is, yes! And here is why:
A baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to prevent infections until around 6 months of age. That’s why it’s recommended to give baby only breast milk for the first 6 months of life. Breast milk has live cells and antibodies that help prevent infections and coats the intestines. These active properties cannot be reproduced and are not present in artificial baby milk.
Below are some top benefits for both mom and baby:
- Mom has less of a chance of hemorrhage after delivery
- Mom has a lower risk of breast cancer, brittle bone disease, anemia and more
- Moms are more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight
- Breastfeeding saves time, money and builds mom’s self-confidence
- Baby has a lower risk of ear infections, fewer allergies, and less time with illness
- Babies who are breastfed have better dental health
- Babies who breastfeed have statistically a higher IQ
- Lower cortisol levels (less stress) for baby when nursing which helps to ensure better brain development, regulated body temperature and promotes bonding
What happens when breast milk isn’t offered to baby?
When an infant is not breastfed, there are risks for both the mother and baby. Mother has more of a risk of hemorrhage after birth, takes longer to return to pre-pregnancy weight, and can miss more work due to infant illness. Baby has a higher risk of numerous ailments, including higher risk of ear infections, allergies, and asthma.
What if I’m not able to nurse at breast?
For some mothers, nursing at breast isn’t always possible and this is where an efficient breast pump is very important. Spectra offers many breast pumps models that are all well above hospital strength of 250mmHg.
It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is all about “supply and demand”, whatever is removed from the breast will be made. So, you need to be pumping or nursing every 2-3 hours. Try not to exceed four hours without removing breastmilk to ensure an adequate milk supply.
If you are exclusively pumping, it can be difficult to maintain a full milk supply. Double pumping can be helpful in keeping those important lactation hormones raised. Hands on pumping can also be helpful (breast massage before, during and after) as well as keeping something that smells like baby next to you when pumping.
What is the bottom line ?
Every ounce counts and every drop of mother’s milk you provide to baby is a lifelong gift. Whether you can provide one ounce of your precious milk or more, keep it up! No mother should feel less than amazing for their choice of how they feed their little one.
We are here to support you! We have a robust Facebook Mom Group where you can be supported by Spectra pumping moms just like you. In addition, we also have Spectra Certified IBCLCs that are here to help you along your breastfeeding and pumping journey!
References: Stuebe, A. (2009). The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2(4), 222–231.