National Breastfeeding Month (August) brings a focus on mothers and babies and the best “first food”. “Breastfeeding is the norm and the natural way to feed a baby,” says Dr. Bonnie Eilen, Westmed OB/GYN. “There has been enough documentation in the pediatric and obstetrical literature to show that breastfeeding not only makes close bonds between a new mom and her baby, but also gives the baby a very healthy start.”
Our physicians have outlined key benefits for breastfed babies outlined below:
Nutrients in Breast Milk
- Colostrum—a yellow, watery pre-milk that the mother’s breasts make for the first few days after birth– helps her newborn’s digestive system grow and function.
- Breast milk has antibodies that help the baby’s immune system fight off sickness. Babies who are breastfed also have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, allergies, and colic.
- The protein and fat in breast milk are better used by the baby’s body than the protein and fat in formula.
Other Health Benefits for the Baby
- Babies who are breast fed have less gas, fewer feeding problems, and often less constipation than those given formulas.
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Advantages of breastfeeding for the mother include:
- The milk is always the right temperature
- It is always available (you are the “cook” and the “server”)
- Breastfeeding is less expensive than bottle-feeding.
- Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which makes the uterus contract and helps it return to its normal size more quickly. This also reduces bleeding after delivery.
- It may decrease the risk of some forms of cancer and other illnesses.
- It may help to lose pounds gained during pregnancy faster than would be possible if the mother were bottle-feeding.
There are many ways that new moms can get help with breastfeeding and to establish that nurturing bond with their infant.
You can find more information at Westmed’s comprehensive, Prepared Childbirth Classes held at the 210 Westchester Avenue, White Plains office. A variety of other topics is covered, including labor, delivery, and variations of labor, C-sections, medications and anesthesia
The presenters are Meg Serraro, RNC, and Donna Guthartz, RN—both are experienced childbirth educators. Classes are offered at least twice a month on Saturdays and Sundays. See the events page here for more details.