Imagine taking delivery of a shiny car new Porsche right off the assembly line – never been driven even half a mile. You’d want to give it the best possible fuel and oil, right? Well, it’s sort of the same with babies, only we’re talking about breast milk.
You’ve heard that breast is best, no doubt. But really, that doesn’t tell you very much about this amazing substance that mother’s bodies can make for babies.
You may have heard that we have “good bacteria” in our intestines (also known as the gut) that help us digest food and fight “bad bacteria.” Babies are born with no bacteria in their gut. So whatever gets in there first is really important because it determines what kinds of good bacteria and antibodies find a home there.
The good bacteria, antibodies and other substances that newborn guts need come from colostrum. That’s the thick “pre-milk” that a mother’s breasts produce in the first couple of days before the actual milk comes in. Colostrum is awesome. It’s loaded with antibodies and all kinds of other biological ingredients that are just what a newborn’s intestines need to get off to a good start.
Now, picture having a car with gasoline that’s so advanced that it can change itself depending on the kind of driving you’re doing. That’s what breast milk does. It changes depending on what your baby needs. For example, in hot weather mothers make milk with more water in it to give babies the extra fluid they need. In winter it has more fat because babies need a few more calories in the cold weather. And get this. If Mom has a cold , anti-bodies against whichever virus she’s fighting will appear in her breast milk. That’s true for other kinds of illnesses as well. It doesn’t mean breastfed babies never get sick. They do, but often beastfed babies recover faster because of the antibodies they get from Mom.
There are many other reasons why people say “breast is best.” It requires no mixing. It’s free. It’s easier to digest. Breastfed babies get various kinds of infections less often. But really, what it boils down to is that breast milk is the food babies were designed to have. It’s as simple as that.
You may be thinking. Yeah, but I don’t have “the equipment.” Why do I need to know this?
Did you know that a father’s support is very important for moms who want to breastfeed? No, really!