Becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest joys. And once they lay eyes on their little one for the first time, any parent will tell you from that moment forward they’ll do anything to ensure the best for their child.
Are you interested in protecting your baby from type I diabetes, childhood leukemia, obesity and high blood pressure? What about lowering your child’s risk of developing allergies or even cancer later in life while boosting his or her intelligence? What if you could do all that while helping yourself lose weight and lowering your stress levels? If you’re a mom you can do all that and more simply by breastfeeding.
“We need to get back to making breastfeeding a normal part of life and that starts with providing education and support to moms,” says Rose Sergenian, a Lactation Specialist with St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison.
Sergenian says one of the most important things to remember is human milk is made for human babies. But what makes it so special is it adapts to meet baby’s needs.
“The first milk, called colostrum, contains antibodies passed on from mom to baby to help protect the newborn from any type of viruses that mom has been exposed to,” says Sergenian.
Breast milk’s nutrients also change over time to meet baby’s growing needs. If baby needs more calcium, mom’s body will provide more through her breast milk, for example.
So why don’t more women breastfeed? Sergenian believes there are many reasons, including misconceptions that formula is better, not enough encouragement from other family members, and going back to work too soon. Also, some moms and dads worry their baby isn’t getting enough nourishment with just breast milk.
But Sergenian notes there is help available. “Our certified Lactation Specialists at St. Mary’s are available to provide basic guidance or specialized support at the hospital and after you are home,” Sergenian says.
Some moms also worry they’ll be sore or won’t produce enough breast milk.
“Unless they have some medical issues, most moms will have no problem producing enough milk for their baby,” says Sergenian. “Soreness is something that can happen when breastfeeding, but it’s very temporary and something a Lactation Specialist can help moms minimize.”
As a society we need to accept that breastfeeding is the norm. Overall, Sergenian says the most important thing is to give breastfeeding a chance. It provides the right nutrients to your baby at the right time in the right amount. In addition, the benefits of skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby are many and help babies develop, thrive and grow to their utmost potential.