The decision to breastfeed a new baby is an important one involving many factors around time, support, nutrition, personal finances and more.
Nursing your baby is a gift that takes some time but will provide countless benefits over the life of your child. Although it is ideal to nurse for at least a year1, even a few days, weeks or months is better than nothing!
The first few days of breastfeeding provides your baby with colostrum so, again, I repeat, even a few days is better than nothing!
Important reasons to nurse your baby:
- Customized nutrition: Mother’s milk is perfectly made for the infant’s complete sustenance. It’s dynamic properties enable it to change nutrient content multiple times throughout the day in order to match the infant’s specific needs for various nutirents.2 Yes, that means that your baby is getting exactly what it needs! No man-made formula can do that!
(Go with woman-made over man-made☺)
- Bonding/safety: Skin-to-skin contact helps babies to feel safe and connected to their mother which has many positive benefits for both baby and mama.3 Let’s play this out a bit. A safer and secure baby will be less fussy, sleep better, have less digestive distress and a stronger immune system… This yields a happier baby … which means mama can sleep better, remain more calm and patient, have more energy for self-care, etc. This can create much love and peace in the home environment.
- Cost: There is virtually no additional cost to provide this incredible level of support/connection as well as physical nutrition. Man-made formulas are expensive! By breast feeding, your little one is getting WAY more nutrition for almost no cost.
- Dental health: Breastfed babies tend to have fewer dental carries than bottle fed babies.4 This isn’t something that’s talked much about when you think about your tiny toothless baby … but over time, healthier teeth will save your little one lots of pain and discomfort and you will save lots of money on dental bills.
- Mother’s milk is incredible applied topically to rashes, bites or other skin irritations on the baby (more customized medicine).5
- Nursing is a safe and health promoting way that new mothers can lose their baby weight.6
A few challenges that you will need to navigate with nursing:
- No one else can help with feedings (unless a woman uses a breast pump, which presents other challenges … but is still worth it if you need to do this). This can lead to exhaustion, especially in the first few months when baby is feeding multiple times in the night.
- Potential for mastitis (a bacterial infection of the breast) or other side effects.7 This is easy to avoid with good nutrition and simple lactation techniques.
- It can be more difficult to get away for work or other personal reasons (date nights, going to the gym, running errands…). Although you will need support, this is a challenge worth navigating!
- It’s ideal for mothers to consume a high-nutrient density diet and also avoid alcohol, smoking and other substances that would potentially harm the baby for highest quality milk.8 Altering diet can be difficult but is again so worth it for the sake of mom and baby alike!
It is worth noting that even breastfeeding for a few days is better than not at all as it ensures that the infant gets the colostrum from the first few feedings (which can have a positive impact on long term immunity with age).9
If you’re preparing for pregnancy, are already pregnant or are nursing and wanting support, we’d love to help you! Reach out to the clinic at 269-204-6525.
1. Dieterich CM, Felice JP, O’Sullivan E, Rasmussen KM. Breastfeeding and Health Outcomes for the Mother-Infant Dyad. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2012.09.010
2. Ballard O, Morrow AL. Human Milk Composition. Nutrients and Bioactive Factors. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2012.10.002
3. Crenshaw JT. Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. J Perinat Educ. 2014. doi:10.1891/1058-1243.23.4.211
4. Avila WM, Pordeus IA, Paiva SM, Martins CC. Breast and bottle feeding as risk factors for dental caries: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142922
5. Witkowska-Zimny M, Kamińska-El-Hassan E, Wróbel E. Milk therapy: Unexpected uses for human breast milk. Nutrients. 2019. doi:10.3390/nu11050944
6. Jarlenski MP, Bennett WL, Bleich SN, Barry CL, Stuart EA. Effects of breastfeeding on postpartum weight loss among U.S. women. Prev Med (Baltim). 2014. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.09.018
7. Pevzner M, Dahan A. Mastitis While Breastfeeding: Prevention, the Importance of Proper Treatment, and Potential Complications. J Clin Med. 2020. doi:10.3390/jcm9082328
8. Kominiarek MA, Rajan P. Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation. Med Clin North Am. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2016.06.004
9. Cacho NT, Lawrence RM. Innate immunity and breast milk. Front Immunol. 2017. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.00584