Breastmilk is a living substance containing a complex mixture of bioactive molecules. It’s contents are highly dynamic, changing as your baby grows, and even within a single feed! Colostrum (or ‘First Milk’) is more rich in fats, proteins and immunoglobulins, because this is exactly what your newborn will need! As they grow, your milk matures and continually changes to keep up with their developing needs.
When feeding at the breast, baby’s body communicates with yours, providing information which will alter the composition of your milk. This process of communication is known as ‘Retrograde Milk Flow’, in which baby’s saliva flows back into the breast as they feed. This interaction allows your body to identify exactly what your baby needs, and produce it! Your body will tail nutrient levels (fats, protein, carbs), specific immune support (antibodies, immunoglobulins), and so much more. Your breasts can even start producing antibodies days before baby shows symptoms of illness!
Your breastmilk provides biologically ideal nutrition for your baby, and meets so much more than just their nutritional needs.
- Lower risk of SIDS, respiratory illness, leukemia, sepsis, HIV, necrotizing enterocolitis, osteoporosis, diabetes, otitis media and more!
- Lower morbidity and mortality associated with infectious disease
- Protective against infection, inflammation and allergies lasting from infancy into adulthood!
- Decreased NICU length of stay
- Colonizes baby’s microbiome with healthy bacteria
- Improves psychomotor and emotional development
- Enhances brain and organ development
- Developmental milestones reached more quickly
- Feeding at the breast promotes proper orofacial development
Breastfeeding is also biologically ideal for the birthing parent, and has a wide array of benefits.
- Lower risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers
- Lower the incidence of postpartum mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Lower risk of diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and more!
- Reduces bleeding and encourages uterus to return to a pre-pregnancy state
- May have contraceptive effects (this is known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method)
- Quicker postpartum weight loss
- Breastfeeding strengthens the emotional bond between mom and baby
- Financially friendly
- Earth friendly
- Feeding at the breast saves time preparing, washing and storing bottles
Breasts are wonderfully complex organs, able to maintain a dynamic flow of milk perfectly tailored to your baby. That being said, there is no definitive ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to feeding your baby. What’s important is that your feeding decision is right for yourself, your baby and your family.