It is widely recognized that breastfeeding offers many benefits to babies. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics® recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life. But there are also many benefits for the mother.
A healthy start
From day one, breastfeeding promotes brain development and provides babies with the nutrition and antibodies they need. It can also help protect them from a variety of conditions and diseases, such as lymphoma, leukemia, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, respiratory tract infections, ear infections and childhood obesity.
Director of Women and Children’s Services, Angela Yancey, MSN, BSN, RNC-OB, RN-CCE, says lactation specialists provide breastfeeding support at The Birth Place at TMC, and breast milk is the perfect food for infants. “When the baby gets the first milk, known as colostrum, it provides them with antibodies to help protect against infections,” says Yancey. “After that, the breast milk contains the right amount of protein, fat, water and sugar for babies to develop.” She adds that breast milk costs nothing, is always the right temperature for baby, is free from contaminants and is often easier for babies to digest.
Bonus benefits for moms
While babies receive the nutritional benefits of breast milk, hormones released in the mother while nursing help create an emotional bond between her and her child. Other advantages for mom can include decreased postpartum bleeding and menstrual blood loss, a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight and a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Moms can also use a breast pump and bottles, so dads can share in the nurturing and feeding experience as well. Yancey says the lactation consultants at The Birth Place are available to educate mothers how to breastfeed their baby. “We offer classes and can also assist new moms with feeding right after the baby is born,” she says. “We show them techniques which improve the quality of feeding and make sure they are comfortable.”
While breastfeeding may not be right for everyone, Yancey encourages it because of the health advantages and the bonding it creates between mother and child. “We are here to help support moms in whatever capacity they need and however they choose to feed their babies,” says Yancey.