For Two Days or Two Years, Breastfeeding Has Benefits
It’s National Breastfeeding Month! Our Center for Advanced Pediatrics providers can support your breastfeeding journey in many ways. Parents may wonder if, with work and personal commitments that may cut breastfeeding time short, it’s worth doing at all. We’re here to explain how, even if Baby just gets a few days of breastmilk, it’s absolutely worth it.
One of the many amazing benefits of breastmilk is the way it continually changes, making it a truly dynamic liquid. At every feeding and at every milestone, the composition of breastmilk is changing to specifically address your baby’s immediate nutritional needs. This ranges from increasing protein as the baby becomes more mobile to increased melatonin in the breastmilk at night feedings to help the baby sleep.
This first food provides immediate nutrition, but also provides lasting effects that are compounded the longer your breastfeeding journey lasts. According to the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, “breastfeeding reduced the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by ∼50% at all ages throughout infancy.”
As you reach each milestone of breastfeeding, you are also increasing long term health benefits for your child as they grow.
One Day Old – When Baby is first born, Mother is producing colostrum – a dense, concentrated liquid filled with nutrition and the first antibodies to start building Baby’s immune system. Its primary function is to coat the digestive system as a defense against germs and to act as a laxative to remove the meconium from the baby’s intestines, which reduces jaundice.
One Week Old – The baby is now drinking transitional milk, which is a mixture of milk and colostrum. This transitional milk is developing to meet the needs of the baby while also providing condensed anti-bodies to further protect baby from outside germs.
Six Weeks Old – The mother’s milk has now developed to mature milk and the antibodies you have provided during breastfeeding has decreased your baby’s risk of digestive and respiratory problems, pneumonia and meningitis.
3 Months Old – Your baby has now a reduced chance of asthma and a lower incidence to Type 1 Diabetes.
6 Months Old – Your baby has likely doubled his weight and now old enough to start exploring solid foods, however cannot yet digest cow’s milk so breastmilk is still the primary food source for baby. Breastfeeding for longer than six months reduces your child’s risk of developing Leukemia and Lymphoma later in life.
One Year Old – At this age, your baby has approximately tripled his birth weight and is an expert at solid foods. Studies have shown that breastfeeding for “12 months or more reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.”
The CDC and AAP recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of age. After the six-month milestone, the baby can begin consuming appropriate solid foods in addition to breastmilk. At one year of age, babies’ digestive systems typically can digest cow’s milk without issue, although the WHO advises to provide breastmilk up to two years of age.
Breastfeeding is a personal journey you are taking with your baby and you both will decide when is best for you to wean. While we’ve said that “Breast is Best” since 1978, it’s much more true that “fed is best.” Whether you breastfeed for two days or two years, you are giving your baby a better chance at a healthy life.
Questions about breastfeeding or your child’s overall health? Please call us at 203-229-2000 or click here to make an appointment. Our TCFAP providers are always happy to help!