Amazing sugars in breastmilk
International Breastfeeding Week (1 – 7th August) has come and gone. Apologies for not posting something sooner, but here goes …
Before getting pregnant or giving birth, the thought of breastfeeding can be very alien. During pregnancy however, the physical and emotional connections with your unborn breaks down barriers so that by the time you hold your baby for the first time, it’s just the most natural thing in the world to nuzzle him to your breast and breastfeed. Your baby’s instincts help him to target your nipple and you don’t need to teach new-born’s how to suck. Once breastfeeding is established your breasts fill regularly and it’s a relief when your baby empties them for you.
Not all women want to breastfeed. In my ante-natal classes I remember one mom who was adamant she wasn’t going to breastfeed because she didn’t like wearing a bra and having heavy, uncomfortable breasts. She was trendy woman who wore stylish clothes made by her dressmaker.
At one class, when I was giving moms the chance to listen to their baby’s heartbeat with my stethoscope, and showing them where to feel for baby’s head, this mom made an announcement.
“If you tell me this baby is a girl, I’ll breastfeed.” (She had three boys).
“It’s a girl,” I said. I was right, and true to her word, mom breastfed her daughter for more than a year!
Before you have your baby, or if you’re already breastfeeding, you’ll read every article about the topic you can possibly lay your hands on. It’s important to do this so that you can deal with problems when they arise, and keep motivated not to stop breastfeeding when things get tough.
I’m sure you’ve read about the numerous benefits of breastfeeding, but to recap here are just a few:
- Breastfeeding helps to protect your baby from infectious illnesses because it’s alive with natural antibodies. These literally ‘immunise’ your baby.
- New research from scientists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, have found that the carbohydrates (natural sugars) in breastmilk could work against biofilms. In other words, they’re part of the ‘antimicrobial protection brigade’ for babies and could reduce the need for commonly prescribed antibiotics. In particular, the journal of Infectious Diseases reported, the sugars in breastmilk have the potential to protect against group B strep infections.
- Group B infections can cause severe illness in new-borns (called early onset) or babies older than three months (late onset). Some of these are sepsis (infection of the blood) pneumonia or meningitis. Real nasties.
- Breastmilk lines the gut and helps to prevent allergies.
- Breastmilk (especially the first milk called colostrum) is a natural laxative. Breastfed babies don’t get constipated.
- Breastmilk removes waste e.g. bilirubin and helps to prevent ‘baby-jaundice’.
- Breastmilk is always the right amount, at the ideal temperature and perfect formula. Breastmilk changes as your baby grows and his nutritional needs change. Colostrum, the first milk, is like condensed milk it’s so rich and creamy. Mature milk is very creamy. As your baby gets older, the ‘foremilk’ or first-milk is watery and satisfies baby’s thirst. When mom’s hormones gear into action, the hind-milk is the creamy milk that satisfies baby’s appetite. The first breast is the first course, second breast, a top-up ‘dessert’ feed.
Benefits for mom:
Breastfeeding is oh, so convenient – and economical. It also comes in reusable, multi-purpose containers. Good for the environment!
Here’s a biggie. Breastfeeding burns 1,000 calories a day and helps mom lose pregnancy weight with very little effort and amazing rewards.
Recommended reading: The Motherly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League. Read it like a novel.