The Decision to Breastfeed

Giving the best for the baby is every mother’s dream. When you start to decide to breastfeed, it is a healthy start that will surely last a lifetime.  Breastmilk is the perfect food for the baby. The component of our milk changes depending on our baby’s needs. That’s how powerful our system is. It detects the baby’s personal needs and will automatically adjust to it especially when the baby is sick.

The breastmilk contributes to immune maturation, development of our organs and healthy colonization of good bacteria in our system. It is dynamic and changes its composition from the first release of colostrum up to late lactation and varies within feeds and between mothers. Therefore, human milk is considered a biologic norm for infant needs in nutrition.

The recognized normative standard for infant feeding is having exclusive feeding for the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding for one to two years of life or longer. Having the decision to breastfeed would also require great opinion from your friends especially your family. They will become a vital part on the support you need on your breastfeeding journey. But remember that you as a mother and your baby are unique, so the decision will really come from you.

To help you decide on whether to breastfeed or not, here are some points that we think you need to consider:

What are the benefits of breastfeeding to the baby?

Breastmilk is the perfect mix of everything! All the nutrition needed by the infant is provided in the breastmilk. If the baby feels unwell, the mother’s body can detect the need to produce antibodies to help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfed babies exclusively for six months experiences fewer infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea.

The breastmilk contains different healthy enzymes and antibodies that will boost your immune system that scientists have yet to replicate. Most milk formulas are made from cow’s milk or soy milk formulas that can trigger allergic reaction.

Breastfed babies have been known to respond well in vaccines compared to non-breastfed babies. They have that added protection because of the antibodies transferred from the mother.

Some studies also show that breastfed babies  

What are the contents of breastmilk that makes it the perfect formula?

Proteins

Breast milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein. Whey contains 60% and casein is 40%. This balance allows the milk to be easily digested by the baby’s gut. This ratio is not seen on milk formulas. Commercially prepared formulas usually contain a greater percentage of casein making it a lot more difficult to digest.

Lactoferrin

Some bacteria require iron for them to thrive in the gastrointestinal tract. Growth of these iron-dependent organisms such as coliform and yeast is inhibited by lactoferrin.

Secretory IgA

This immunoglobulin will protect the infant from viruses and bacteria specially those that the baby and the mother is exposed to. It will also protect against E. coli bacteria. IgM and IgG are also immunoglobulins are also in there to protect. Eating fist can help the mother produce these proteins in the breastmilk.

Lysozyme

Is also an enzyme found in the saliva and has the same function in the breastmilk. It can protect us from E. coli and Salmonella. It promotes a healthy gastrointestinal flora and it also has an anti-inflammatory function.

Bifidus factor

This component of the breastmilk protects the baby against harmful bacteria by creating an acidic environment where it cannot survive. This factor supports the growth of lactobacillus which is considered as a good bacteria.

Fats

Fats are essential to your baby’s health. Lipids are substances that can be dissolved in water. Kinds of which are fat-soluble vitamins, fatty acids and steroids. These lipids support the structure of cells, regulates body temperature, and make hormones. But the most important function is to store energy.  

Complex Lipids

These are believed to help reduce inflammation in the intestines. It may protect the baby against serious intestinal condition called necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC. They are also important in the development of brain, stomach and skin.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are also fat and make 98% of breastmilk fat.  It is responsible for storage and energy.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is in charge for nerve and brain development. It is made of steroids. Cholesterol is also needed in the production of hormones to regulate different functions of the body. Studies show that children exposed to breastmilk cholesterol have a better heart health as they get older. They will also have a lesser chance of acquiring heart disease in the future.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is an essential fatty acid for brain development and the central nervous system. It is also important for the development of the eyes especially to premature infants.

Arachidonic Acid (ARA)

Although its importance may not be entirely understood. It is an essential fatty acid and may play a role in infant growth or it may be necessary to balance DHA.

The Colostrum

Colostrum comes in yellow, orangey color, thick and sticky, also described as “liquid gold”. It is described as such not because of its color but because of its importance for nourishing and protecting your newborn.

What makes colostrum special?

It is easy to digest.

Colostrum contains less fat than mature milk. Therefore, it will be easier to digest and absorb by the newborn and is perfect for the first days of your breastfeeding journey.

Rich in protein.

Colostrum has higher levels of protein than mature milk perfect for the newborn’s digestive system. For example, these proteins help the gut to mature and aids in digestion of nutrients and protects against illness.

It contains high levels of antibodies.

Introducing colostrum to your baby is like giving them their first immunization. Colostrum contains disease-fighting factors that protect the baby. The baby isn’t exposed yet to any foreign harmful substances like viruses and bacteria upon birth, therefore, the immune system is not developed yet.

The baby needs these important factors until his immune system can work independently and do its job. Especially during the first days of life, the baby is vulnerable to infection.

Thicker consistency.

Due to its thick consistency, the colostrum will be swallowed easily by the baby. The baby isn’t used yet to swallowing, compared to the runny consistency of mature milk, colostrum will easier to take and will most likely not make its way to the lungs.

Small in volume.

It may be scanty at first, just 40 to 50 ml in volume. But we have to remember that your baby’s gut is just small and this volume is just enough.

In the first weeks of life, the stomach of the newborn can’t hold much liquid, so the baby needs to be fed in small amounts. This also attributes to the colostrum’s consistency that promotes coordination between swallowing and breathing because the milk doesn’t flow to quickly.

Upon knowing most of your, breastmilk’s composition, here are some myth’s or misconception pe[ople think when you engage into it.

It is easy.

It will be difficult at the beginning. Although born with the reflex to find mother’s breast, positioning the baby in breastfeeding especially for first timer mothers will be of a little challenge. I8t will take sometime and practice to perfect the skill.

We need to also factor out that breast feeding is also time intensive. So, a breastfeeding mother needs ample time to space herself out from work and home routines. This is a great chance to hire a partime nanny or a close relative support.

Breastfeeding hurts.

With the right support and positioning, this thing will remain a myth. Some mothers will feel discomfort with the first days of her breastfeeding journey due to her experiment of finding the perfect latch, but upon perfecting the technique, a sore nipple will never happen. Support from lactation experts, skilled professionals or mother’s class, will help you guide through and correct wrong techniques.

The need to wash your nipples before feeding.

Your baby will get use to your smell. There is no need to wash your nipples unless it’s exposed to substances that would harm your baby. But generally, the need to wash is not necessary because your nipples contain good bacteria that helps babies build their immune system.

The mother and baby must be separated to let the mother rest after birth.

Medical professionals promote the practice of ‘skin to skin’ immediately after birth. This is important to give way to the baby’s reflex of finding the mother’s breast. If this is practiced after birth and frequently thereafter, it will help establish breastfeeding.

The taste of your milk will change if you exercise.

There is no study nor evidence that this claim is true. Exercise is healthy for breastfeeding mothers to release the stress of her everyday life. Exercise will also stretch and strengthen the muscles to help keep proper posture during breastfeeding and avoid back aches.

You’ll have the heard time weaning your baby after one year of breastfeeding.

This myth has no evidence or has been proven by studies, but evidence of breastfeeding your baby up to two years is beneficial for the mother and the child. Every mother and child tandem are unique and need to predetermine how long they want to breastfeed.

If you go back to work, you should wean your baby.

This will greatly depend on the policies in your workplace. Most workplaces adhere to their policies that breastfeeding mothers need support. Most facilities provide pumping stations or breastfeeding corners in their facility. Some also provide storage refrigerators or freezers to store breastmilk. If you have given the option to breastfeed during work hours, do so.

Some facilities would allow this for you to go home and breastfeed or let someone bring your baby to the workplace like your nanny or a close relative. If this is not applicable to you, you may express your milk for few minutes and store it properly in the office so you take it home. Your dedication in doing so will determine how long you can be dedicated to your breastfeeding journey.

Breastfed babies are clingy.

Babies have unique characters. Some are clingy and some are not no matter how we feed them. Although breastfeeding promotes child and mother bond and is also has a great factor in brain development.

Upon noting the pros and cons of breastfeeding, it is apparent that the journey is indeed worth the try. Everything your baby needs for the healthiest possible start is manufactured inside your body. We hope that any fears have been laid to rest when it comes to your decision to breast feed. Yes, it will not be easy at first but a good support system will greatly influence your success. You cannot do it alone. But it will be rest assured that it will benefit you both for months and the years to come.

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