Fourth Trimester, Pregnancy
Once the amazing journey of pregnancy turns the corner to parenthood, new parents face some big choices in how to best nurture and feed this new life. What’s most important with infant feeding is that safe, sufficient feeding is ultimately what’s needed. Fed-is-best, whether you breastfeed or use formula. Please know that whatever options work best for your family, we are here to support you and provide the help you may need to find success in feeding and bonding with your baby.
For those who decide to breastfeed, you should know that there are some truly wonderful benefits for the baby, for you, and for society in general! August is National Breastfeeding month, and Axia joins the US Department of Health and so many others celebrating this recognition by shining a light on the need for information and support for every family that chooses breastfeeding. Your body is a wonder, and as you start your breastfeeding journey, you should know just how helpful this can be.
Breastmilk is the perfect food for a baby, and the nutrition it offers is unparalleled. But the benefits an infant receives from breastfeeding extend far beyond nutrition. Breastmilk has been proven to help protect infants from illnesses and develop strong immune systems. This is, in part, because a mother’s breastmilk is produced by a system that already contains her more-mature immune system, and as such, passes along a host of enzymes, antioxidants, and live antibodies to germs she’s been exposed to. The benefits and protections offered through breastmilk are also evolving as the baby’s needs change, making breastfeeding an ongoing source of reinforced infant health.
It makes sense, then, that breastfed babies have also shown that they have a great chance at growing into healthy children! Study after study has shown that children who were nursed with breastmilk show lower rates of everything from Asthma and Childhood Leukemia, to gastrointestinal tract disorders and type I/ II diabetes. There is even research showing that breastfed babies have a decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Fed-is-best, and for those who breastfeed, the benefits for the baby last long after nursing has ended. But the baby isn’t the only one who benefits!
Nursing mothers who breastfeed are not just providing for their new little one, they are also receiving some pretty amazing rewards themselves! Physically, breastfeeding moms enjoy:
The advantages for the mother aren’t limited to physical gains. Mothers who breastfeed often are found to have a reduced risk of postpartum depression and a more positive overall mood. They report increased confidence, and a more accessible sense of calm—attributed to the stimulated production of calm-reinforcing hormones oxytocin and prolactin, which both reduce stress.
Additionally, it’s undeniable that one of the challenges with infants is what to do when you need to travel. Even short trips can seem like a mountain to climb. With breastfeeding, packing and feeding are made simple—nothing to clean, warm, or prepare.
Breastfeeding helps nurture healthy babies and happy, healthy moms, but the advantages extend even farther than the maternal bond.
Happy, healthy, well-fed babies are the goal—whether using formula or breastmilk. For those who choose breastfeeding, the benefits of that choice have positive effects that extend beyond the mother and child. We’ve shared that breastfed babies often grow into children with fewer illnesses–in fact, research shows that if 90% of families breastfed exclusively for six months, nearly 1,000 deaths among infants could be prevented each year. Breastfeeding translates into reduced cost of medical care and less time away from work for the parents (meaning that employers benefit as well).
Additionally, at a time when sustainability matters and environmental concerns shape the headlines and the world these children will grow in, it’s worth nothing that breastfeeding is arguably the most sustainable/renewable resource we know. There is no waste…no cans from formula or plastic bottles used and discarded.
Breastmilk and nursing with breastmilk offer so many benefits and advantages beyond simple good nutrition. But nursing is about a lot more than breastfeeding, and it cannot be overstated that whether you breastfeed or use formula, what a baby needs most is safe, sufficient feeding.
For some, breastfeeding isn’t an option. For others, this decision can create emotional strain on a mother, even from within her own support network, and so it is important to know that fed-is-best, and whether through a choice you make, or a choice you didn’t have, many mothers look to alternate sources of nutrition for their infants. In some cases, infants can’t tolerate milk of any kind, and if it weren’t for the sophisticated, specialty formulas currently available such as soy-based, or lactose-free options, their healthy development would be at significant risk.
Whether you choose a combination of breastmilk and formula, or purely a high-quality, balanced and enriched formula option, just be sure you discuss the type, amount, and timing plans with your pediatrician to make sure that your little one is getting the nutritional and immuno-health support they need, both today and as they and their needs grow.
What’s also important to say again is that nursing is about more than breastfeeding. Nursing is about connecting with your infant and learning each other’s faces and cues. It’s about bonding, and that is as possible with a bottle as it is with a breast.
No matter what choices you make to raise a healthy, happy baby, make sure you ask yourself and your doctor the right questions along the way, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Share what you are thinking and what your concerns are so that you can move confidently into the healthy, balanced feeding plan that makes the most out of this magical time for both you and the baby.
Here are just a few of the resources available to connect those considering breastfeeding with education, inspiration, and additional help they may need. NOTE: These are shared for educational purposes only, and information shared on these resources should be considered and discussed with your doctor for safe inclusion in your feeding plans: