Whether you’re an expectant mom who’s just right about to give birth or a first-time mom learning the baby steps about breastfeeding, one thing is sure- breastfeeding doesn’t go naturally easy. What you should know is that this is normal! What you need is to be emotionally ready, stress-free, and knowledgeable about it. To gear you up as you begin this journey to your breastfeeding goals, here is a quick guide on what you need to know about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Provides the Best Nourishment for the Baby
As the World Health Organization (WHO) highly recommends, adequate nutrition begins with exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life. Believe it or not, breastmilk is gold for newborn babies because it has all the essential nutrients for the baby’s growth and nourishment. It has the following:
- Fat – For every 100 mL of breast milk, there is 3.5 g of the fat component that supplies half of the energy source for your baby. It also has polyunsaturated fatty acids like DHA and ARA, which are essential components for brain development.
- Carbohydrates – There is 7 g per 100 mL of sugar lactose in breast milk, which provides half the energy needs for your baby. There are also sugar chains called “oligosaccharides” that act as a barrier to prevent bacteria from invading the cells in the gut.
- Proteins– Different from animal milk, breastmilk has the right amino acids suitable for your baby. Breast milk amino acids are safely low in amount compared to the high content found in animal milk. This avoids straining your baby’s kidneys from filtering out nitrogenous waste in the body. Breast milk amino acids also serve as building blocks for antibodies that fight infection.
- Vitamins and Minerals- Except for Vitamin D, breastmilk essentially has all the vitamins your baby needs. It also has an adequate supply for zinc and iron stores until six months of age.
- Antibodies and Anti-infective Factors – Breastmilk is rich in an antibody called IgA that protects against microbes that cause diarrhea and pneumonia. Oligosaccharides form a protective barrier along the lining of the gut. Whey proteins (lysozyme and lactoferrin) kill microorganisms.
Breastfeeding is a Special Infant- Mother Bonding
Breastfeeding promotes skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby. It builds a deep loving connection that cannot be fully explained by science! But what it can explain is that while your baby is sucking, chemicals in your brain (called oxytocin) trigger the release of milk in your breasts. The more you breastfeed, the more milk comes out! Make sure you practice proper latching techniques for your comfort and your baby’s quality feeding.
Breastfeeding Provides the Special Milk called Colostrum
The first few days of breastfeeding will be tough, but this is the time you can get the most out of the important nutrients from the breastmilk. Colostrum is the special milk released early in the first two to three days after delivery. It has the most amount of IgA antibodies, a larger percentage of protein, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, and K) than mature milk. It also has epidermal growth factors that promote the maturation of the gut for better absorption of nutrients in your baby.
Breastfeeding is Good for the Mom
Breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers as it lowers the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Also, by burning calories during breastfeeding, you will lose your weight faster. It also lessens the risk of having Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Just like you, there are moms out there who may find it frustrating when the milk doesn’t come out easily, but with your breastfeeding goals already set in mind and the support from family and friends, there is nothing to worry about. Simply enjoy the benefits of getting your baby milk drunk!