benefits of breastfeeding

15 Ways Breastfeeding Boosts Baby’s Immune System

Baby and Mom

Breastfeeding offers an unparalleled way to protect your baby from illness and disease. Because it is perfectly formulated to meet the needs of your child, breastmilk offers the perfect combination of nutrients, antibodies, enzymes and immune factors to keep your baby healthy and thriving. Here are 15 ways that breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system and protects your little one from harmful illnesses.

  1. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diarrheal disease. Statistics suggest that formula fed babies are 3-4 times more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. This is because breastmilk stimulates the growth of good bacteria and prebiotics in the digestive tract impeding the growth of bad bacteria and preventing it from attaching to the intestines. 
  2. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections.
  3. Breastfed babies are less likely to be hospitalized with a respiratory infection. Research suggests that formula-fed babies may be as much as 3 times more likely to suffer from severe respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, croup and pneumonia.
  4. Breastfed babies are 34 % less likely to develop juvenile diabetes.
  5. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop childhood cancer. Formula-fed infants may be as much as 8 times more likely to develop childhood onset cancer than babies who are breastfed for at least six months.
  6. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop urinary tract infections.
  7. Breastfed babies have fewer cavities than formula fed babies.
  8. Breastfed babies are significantly less likely to develop certain types of spinal meningitis.
  9. Breastfed babies typically have lower blood pressure than formula fed babies and are less likely to develop heart disease.
  10. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity. Some studies suggest that formula fed babies are 20-30 percent more likely to struggle with obesity.
  11. Breastfed babies born into families with allergies are less likely to develop a milk allergy and less likely to develop problems with eczema.
  12. Babies who are breastfed for six or more months are less likely to get leukemia and lymphoma.
  13. Breastfed babies have been found to have a 36-50 percent reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  14. Breastfed babies typically have fewer cavities than formula fed babies.
  15. Breastfed babies may be less likely to develop psychological and behavioral problems.

To learn more about the great benefits of breastfeeding or for questions about having a natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

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Lactation Services at Health Foundations

Breastfeeding Mama

If you’re expecting your first baby and are planning to breastfeed, you likely have images in your head of lovingly nursing your newborn in your new cushy glider as he drifts off to sleep and you gaze down in awe of your little miracle. You probably have these images because that’s how we often see breastfeeding portrayed in photos and movies. Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural way to nourish your baby while creating a lasting bond. But it’s unfortunately not always as easy as you expect. Problems such as a poor latch and lip and tongue ties can leave both you and your baby in tears as you struggle to overcome the learning curve on your way to nursing bliss. That’s why, at Health Foundations, we offer comprehensive lactation services to get you on your way to building a successful breastfeeding relationship with your new baby.

Crying Baby.jpg

Lactation consultation can begin as soon as your baby is born with guidance and instruction from our team on how to get baby latched on properly and receiving the vital colostrum that precedes your milk coming in. But it doesn’t end there. During your postpartum visit, our registered nurse Jan Kaste will answer any questions you have about breastfeeding, address any difficulties that have arisen, and troubleshoot any problems to ensure that you and baby can get back on track. 

“Nursing is a learned skill that often benefits from time spent with a lactation consultant. We offer lactation education on a one to one basis to get new moms through those first challenging weeks. Reassurance and individualized problem solving create the best chance for each mom to successfully reach her breastfeeding goals.” –Jan Kaste, RN, Nurse Practitioner.

If you’re breastfeeding challenges are not resolved during your postpartum visit, you are welcome to schedule a one on one consultation at the Birth Center. During a lactation consultation, we will assess your concerns and give you the individualized attention, support and guidance needed to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals. It is not uncommon for it to take a month or even two to get in a comfortable groove with your baby as you both learn to navigate the rewarding and nutritive relationship of breastfeeding. 

In addition to private consultations, we also offer a number of classes and groups to support you in your breastfeeding journey. These options include:

Breastfeeding Class (First Wednesday and Third Tuesday of Every Month, 6:00-7:00 PM): This class focuses on getting off to a great start with a comfortable latch as well as understanding nursing positions and infant feeding cues. The class also covers nutrition for breastfeeding, breastfeeding supplies, and common concerns such as infant growth spurts.

Mama’s Milk Hour (Thursdays from 2:30-3:30 PM): This group is a wonderful way to gain support in breastfeeding in those early weeks.  Come weigh your baby, practice breastfeeding in public, ask questions and connect with other mamas. Free and open to the public.

Pump Talk 101 (First Thursday of Every Month from 3:30pm - 4:30pm): If you’re returning to work soon, this class will help you learn how to make the transition by teaching the ins and outs of pumping and storing milk after you return to your job.

To learn more about the lactation services, classes and groups at Health Foundations, contact us to speak to a lactation consultant. We are dedicated to helping you achieve your breastfeeding goals and supporting you on the way.

Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work

Breastfeeding Career Mom

Returning to work after having a baby can be one of the most challenging transitions for a new mom. You may be feeling anxious about being away from your little one and wondering how he will fare in your absence. One gift you can give to your baby as you return to work is to continue to provide him with the incomparable nutritional and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. This may seem like an extraordinarily daunting task, to continue to provide milk for your baby while at work, but many women do so successfully and with great reward to both baby and themselves. Here are a few tips to ease the transition back to work and help you and your baby continue to have a thriving nursing relationship.

1. Get a good pump and get to know it well

While a hand pump may be fine for occasional pumping needs, if you are planning to return to work and will be pumping regularly, you want something that works efficiently and effectively. The best option would be to get a double electric or a hospital grade pump. There are several ways to obtain a breast pump including purchasing one yourself, renting one from a hospital or going through your insurance company. Many insurance companies today provide full coverage for a breast pump with no out of pocket cost to you. Once you receive your pump, review the directions, learn how to use and clean the parts and start practicing using it before you return to the office. Don’t be discouraged if you are not producing much milk at first. A baby’s sucking is the most effective means of extracting milk but your body will become accustomed to regular pump use and begin to produce more consistently.

2. Get a hands-free pumping bra

A hands-free pumping bra is an invaluable investment when it comes to comfort and convenience while pumping. This will allow you to continue to do work if you wish, make phone calls, eat your lunch, read a book or any number of other activities while pumping that you cannot do if you are stuck holding the flanges.  

3. Introduce your baby to bottles BEFORE you return to work

While you should wait until you’ve established a good breastfeeding relationship with your baby before giving a bottle, it is important to introduce bottle feeding before you return to work.  Some babies will easily adapt to the bottle while others may be less accepting of the change.  Don’t worry if your baby does not take to it right away, keep trying and know that they will eat if they are hungry. Consider having the caregiver who will be watching your baby while you are at work practice giving the bottle as well. Your baby may actually be more willing to take a bottle from someone other than you as it can be less confusing.

4. Discuss your plans to continue breastfeeding with your boss

In accordance with an amendment made to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, you have the right to a reasonable break time to express milk for your baby for up to 12 months in a private place that is not a restroom. Although this law only applies to companies with over 50 people, all employers should be respectful of this right. Let your boss know when and how often you will need to take breaks and find out what accommodations they have available both for pumping and your milk storage.  

5. Establish a pumping schedule and routine

If you are returning to work when your baby is only a couple months old, you will want to pump every time you would have fed your baby. This is because you want to maintain your milk supply and let your body know that you still need to produce at the same frequency. Once your supply is more established, you may be able reduce the number of pumping sessions per day. Pre-schedule your pumping sessions and put a reminder on your phone or in your Outlook calendar to prevent missed sessions, engorgement and leaks. Be sure to allow yourself 20-30 minutes per pumping session as you will need time to clean the parts and store your milk after you finish. If you struggle to letdown with your pump, have pictures or videos of your baby on hand to help ease the process. It’s also smart to have snacks and water available to stay hydrated and nourished.

6. Choose a breastfeeding supportive caregiver

Finding a caregiver who understands and values the importance of breastfeeding and breast milk is an important part of returning to work. Be sure to educate your caregiver on how to handle, thaw and warm breast milk and what safety precautions to take in terms of making sure the milk stays fresh. Share the importance of holding your baby and lovingly offering a bottle in your absence to ease the transition of not being around mom. Consider storing your milk in small amounts (approximately 2-4 ounces) that can be thawed individually to minimize having extra that is wasted. Any milk that has been thawed and placed in the refrigerator should be used within a 24 hour period or discarded. It may be helpful to build a small stockpile of milk in your freezer for the caregiver so that there is always back-up on hand.  

For tips on storing human breast milk, see "Storing Human Breast Milk"

7. Maximize your time together with baby by breastfeeding often

When possible, nurse your baby right before you leave for work and right when you return to continue nurturing the breastfeeding bond. Consider sleeping near your baby at night so that you can nurse comfortably if needed. Often babies who are separated from their moms during the day will nurse more frequently at night. This is called reverse cycling.  Consequently, you may find that your baby actually eats less during the day with the caregiver than he does at night with you.  Any amount of breast milk you can continue to give your baby when you return to work is better than no breast milk. Make a commitment to yourself and your baby to try to continue exclusively breastfeeding for the first 30 days and if you find you are unable to produce adequate supply, you can always choose to supplement with formula. If you find yourself feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by the process of continuing to nurse your baby when returning to work, remind yourself of the tremendous physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. And always, as with everything in motherhood, find other moms to connect with who are on a similar journey. Sharing tips and support for one another during your transition back to work can be a saving grace during this stressful time. For questions about breastfeeding or other pregnancy and infant related topics, contact Health Foundations to schedule a free consultation with a midwife and tour of the Birthing Center.

15 Cool Facts about Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding mom

We all know the saying “breast is best” but here are some of the colossal benefits, and a couple quirky facts, about breastfeeding. 1.  Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system big time—helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, including:

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Ear infections
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Infant diarrhea
  • Common colds and flus

2.  Breastfeeding can actually reduce baby’s risk of disease later in life, including:

  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Leukemia
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema

3.  Breastfeeding reduces mama’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.  The longer she breastfeeds, the higher the benefit.  

Get this—breastfeeding a baby girl actually reduces her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%.

4.  Breastfeeding saves a family approximately $2 to 4 thousand dollars annually (compared to cost of formula).

5.  Breastfeeding helps mama heal faster in the postpartum, helping her uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster and lowering overall postpartum blood loss.

6.  Breastfeeding can help mama return to her pre-baby weight.  It takes 1000 calories a day on average to produce breast milk.  Women are advised to consume an extra 500 calories a day, and the body dips into reserves it built up in pregnancy to make the rest (it’s important to consume those extra calories or the body actually goes into “starvation mode” and holds onto the reserves).

7.  Producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy; the brain only uses 20% by comparison.

8.  On average, babies remove 67% of the milk mama has available—they eat until fullness, not until the breast is emptied.

9.  Almost 75% of all moms produce more milk in their right breast, whether they are right- or left- handed.

10.  Mama’s body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby.  Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old).  Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.

11.  Human milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies (who doesn’t love that?)  Breastfeeding also calms mama and helps her bond to baby.

12.  Breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

13.  Mama’s breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed.  This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial.

14.  Breastfeeding reduces baby’s risk of cavities later on and may lower the chance they will need braces as kids.

15.  Breastfeeding mamas sleep on average 45 minutes more a night, compared to those who formula feed.

To learn more about breast feeding from a Midwife, please schedule a free consultation