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 kind 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 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. It’s completely virgin territory. So whatever gets in there first is really important, right? It determines what kinds of good bacteria and antibodies find a home there.
The good bacteria that babies need comes from colostrum. That’s the thick stuff 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 gut needs to get off to a good start.
Now, picture having a car with gasoline that’s so advanced it’s actually sort of alive. It can change itself depending on the kind of driving you’re doing. That’s basically what breast milk does. It changes as your baby grows. The amount of fat in breast milk also gets reduced as the baby approaches 6 months of age and isn’t growing quite so fast. And get this. If Mom has a cold, anti-bodies against whichever cold virus she has will appear in her breast milk. If she has some other illness, then her milk will contain different antibodies. That doesn’t mean breastfed babies never get sick. They do. It’s more like breast milk is setting them up to have an immune system that runs smoothly.
There are lots of other reasons why people say breast is best. It requires no mixing. It’s free. It’s easier to digest. Breastfed babies get fewer ear infections. 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!