At GetzWell, we are strong advocates of breastfeeding. Why? Research continues to uncover the inextricable link between breast milk and babies’ long term health. While we recognize there are circumstances that prevent breast feeding and honor a mother’s decision, whatever it is, to feed her baby as best she can, we’re excited to share some amazing facts and the overall health benefits of Mother Nature’s perfect baby food.
It’s an important building block for a healthy immune system.
A recent study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that breast milk contains healthy gut flora produced in the mother’s digestive tract (via “enteromammary trafficking“), colonizing the infant’s gut with beneficial bacteria from the get-go.
A newborn’s immune system is quite immature, making them more vulnerable to illness in the early months. However, thanks to breast milk, infants can avoid many health risks by developing and maintaining a healthy intestinal tract.
It’s fortified with infection-fighting white cells.
In the first days of life, a breastfed newborn ingests colostrum (a yellowish fluid known as “first milk”) and breast milk, both containing infection-fighting white cells (a.k.a. leukocytes). 90% of white blood cells in the milk are macrophages and neutrophils and their job is to engulf and absorb harmful bacteria.
Lymphocytes (T-cells and B-cells) constitute the remaining 10% of the disease-fighting cells. They identify and eliminate harmful invaders and also produce antibodies in the newborn.
It’s rich with mom’s antibodies.
Breast milk is also armed with mom’s own antibodies. It protects babies from pathogens by coating the superficial layers of the intestines and other mucosal surfaces (like mouth, nose and eyes) that act as entry points for pathogens into the baby’s body. We encourage mothers to continue to nurse during their own illnesses, such as colds and flues (and even COVID in many cases–see this for more details), because mother’s milk will pass along antibodies to help baby fight the infection (or even prevent baby from getting sick in the first place).
It’s tailored to each child!
This WebMD article “New Insight on Benefits of Breastfeeding” uncovers the uniqueness of breast milk and explains how mother’s body produces the right kind of milk depending on the baby’s suckling style, age, and sex. From infancy through toddlerhood, your baby receives the right kind of nutrients at the various stages of development.
Further proving breast milk’s inimitable make up, “Nutrient by Nutrient Why Breast is Best” from Ask Dr. Sears outlines the biological specificity of breast milk among different species and how human milk is specifically tailored to the meet developmental needs of human infants with the right types and ratios of fat, proteins, lactose, vitamins, minerals, and water.
It’s a gift to be shared.
Nursing mothers with an abundance of milk can donate their bounty to families in need. Donated milk is a benefit for adopted babies, preemies, and mothers whose milk is slow to come in or for those who are simply under producers. Reputable organizations include:
- Helping Hands Milk Bank
- The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)
- Mother’s Milk Bank
It’s also common for friends to share milk among themselves. While some moms may be hesitant to use others’ milk, at GetzWell we believe there really is no equal when it comes to nature’s nutrient-rich and immune-optimizing breast milk.
We cannot stress enough the important role breast milk has on your baby’s health and development. To learn more about its many benefits, give us a call at 415.826.1701.