by Michaela Pershe, Birthright of Pittsburgh Volunteer
Breast milk is one of the healthiest and easiest, and yet the most underrated methods of nourishing your new baby.
In our world today, feeding your newborn a bottle of formula is often encouraged; however, it does not contain nearly the amount of optimal nutrition found in a mother’s breast milk.
Breast milk is unique to every mother and infant. It provides specific nutrients and vitamins designed just for your baby. Human breast milk is a live substance with immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against many illnesses and diseases for both mothers and babies. It provides nutritional properties to support a new baby in the best way possible. Breastfeeding also helps to form a strong emotional bond between a mother and her baby and serves as an important factor in baby’s emotional and mental growth.
The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of breastfeeding, saying: “Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness. Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment.”
Sometimes, formula is necessary for supplementing infant feedings or if a mother is unable to produce breast milk for any reason. A mother should not feel guilty if infant formula is necessary.
If new mothers feel some uncertainty about breastfeeding, questions and concerns can be answered with a little guidance and encouragement at the hospital with nurses and doctors.
Before delivery, pregnant mothers might attend a local free La Leche League meeting in your area. These are often taught by mothers who nursed their babies and the meetings offer helpful advice, information and encouragement.