It’s fascinating how a mother’s body can undergo so many changes and versions in order to meet her baby’s needs. It expands to create space, it strengthens to be able to bear childbirth, and it produces breastmilk that allows her to care for her baby the best possible way. Contrary to the many things that the modern world presents as a ‘need’ in taking care of babies, the fact is, every mother already has everything a baby needs—breastmilk being on top of the list.
How important is breastmilk to a baby’s development? Are the benefits really incomparable to formula milk? Are the sacrifices of breastfeeding worth it?
If you’re a mom who is still undecided about the whole idea of breastfeeding or if you’re an expectant mom counting down the months to childbirth, read on to know how breastmilk protects your baby both inside-out and outside-in.
They say that mothers know best, and this is especially true when it comes to breastfeeding. Only mothers can provide the ideal nutrition her baby needs through her breastmilk.
According to research, babies who are breast-fed contract fewer infections than those who don’t. This is because breastmilk contains many proteins that are known to be bioactive. This includes enhancement of nutrient absorption, growth stimulation, modulation of the immune system, and defense against organisms that can cause disease. What this means is that breastmilk can actually lower a baby’s risk of contracting colds and flu, ear and respiratory tract infections, sickness, and diarrhea!
Studies show that babies who drink breastmilk are more likely to have certain bacteria in their digestive tracts that can help prevent obesity. Compared to formula milk which have higher sugar levels, breastmilk doesn’t spike up the insulin levels in the blood which can stimulate fat deposits.
Some mom’s fear that if they allow their babies to fall asleep while feeding, it will cause their baby’s small teeth to decay. But, research shows that it’s not the case. It’s actually the reverse. Streptococcus Mutans is the bacterium that causes tooth decay and Lactoferrin is a protein found in breastmilk that actually kills it. Unlike artificial milk that contains sugar that can support the growth of bacteria, the sucrose that is found in a mother’s milk cannot be easily be broken down by bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.
There are several studies that prove that human milk aides in the quicker development of a baby’s immune system compared to commercial milk. Because of the natural hormones, proteins, and minerals found in a mother’s breastmilk, postnatal development of the nerves, intestines, and organs in general develop at a faster rate. How is this relevant? When the organs of your baby develop quicker, their bodies can fight off potentially harmful agents earlier, keeping themselves away from sickness and danger.
Especially in the world we live in now where pollution is increasing, your baby needs to have the best defense from environmental toxins. Breastmilk is their best source of protection. You see, breastmilk contains immune protective factors which can lessen the effects of environmental pollutants that a baby is exposed to. Since your baby’s immune system is not yet fully developed, it definitely needs an effective blanket against foreign organisms to stay safe and away from diseases.
- Bo Lönnerdal, Bioactive Proteins in Breast Milk, March 2013
- Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, How Breast Milk Protects Newborns
- Claire McCarthy, The Real Link Between Breastfeeding and Preventing Obesity, October 2018