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The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Baby’s Immune System with Breastfeeding

As a new mom, it’s common to feel a combined sense of excitement and nervousness when it comes to your baby.

From the first moment you look into your little one’s eyes, there’s a feeling of concern about making the right choices.

The question is, however:

What are the right things that you can do for your child?

With new motherhood comes a barrage of little decisions you’ll have to make.

One of the first decisions that you will have to make is:

Are you willing to commit to breastfeeding your baby?

While this is a personal decision which affects every family and individual differently, deciding to nurse your baby can be one of the best choices you opt to make.

Not only does breastfeeding allow for closer bonding between mother and child, but it also enhances a baby’s immune system to keep them healthy fresh out of the womb and beyond.

At MamaNatal, we believe in the power of breastfeeding.

Our goal, however, is not just to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby.

It’s to teach moms how to breastfeed effectively, so that you can give your babies’ the nourishment and healthy foundation they need in the most natural way possible. 

If you’re wondering how nursing your child can improve their chances of staying healthy, our experts at MamaNatal have all the information you need.

What is an immune system and how does it develop in babies?

baby immune system

The immune system is an intricate network of proteins and cells, that’s general function is to protect the body from infection. When foreign substances enter the body, they are identified by the white blood cells, which then produce the antibodies needed to help fight off the infection.

Unlike adults, babies do not have a healthy immune system when they are born. During the last three months of pregnancy (third trimester), the antibodies from the mother are passed through the placenta.

In this stage, the level of immunity received by the baby depends on the mother’s own level. This exchange gives the baby some protection when they are born.

At birth, the baby’s gut can build a colony of bacteria passed unto them from the mother’s vagina, which contributes to their immunity. These examples of passive immunity, however, do not last long after birth.

After delivery, your child will continue to receive antibodies from exposure to various germs and bacteria. Another way of supporting their immune systems is by offering your child the powerful antibodies that come from colostrum and breast milk.

These antibodies will help prevent your child from getting sick and will reduce the amount of time it takes for them to feel better when they do catch colds and other symptoms.

Given the present COVID-19 pandemic we’re facing, it’s also worth noting that some scientific studies have determined that breastmilk might even help protect children from developing the coronavirus.

At the very least, it’s been decided that even if a mother has tested positive for COVID-19, the risk of passing it onto her child is extremely rare.

Facts about Breastfeeding

facts about breastfeeding nursing baby

From bonding to long-term health benefits, there are so many incredible advantages that can come with choosing to breastfeed your child.

The following are important facts that you should know about breastfeeding. 

Fact#1: Breastfeeding builds immunity and protects your baby

The WHO recommends breastfeeding within one hour after giving birth. To promote optimal growth and development, breastfeeding should continue up to two years. 

Babies typically consume 780ml to 200ml of milk each day from less than six months up to 18 months. It provides an estimated 29% of his daily intake of calories. Breast milk is considered to be personalized medicine. It helps reduce the risk of flu, colds, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and lung infections.

mamanatal-breastfeeding-guide-3d-cover

If you are getting ready to breastfeed, make sure to download our free 74 page ‘Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding’.

We’ve developed this guide with the help of our lactation consultants and it will answer your questions – promised!

Fact#2: Breastfeeding benefits mothers

Breastfeeding does not only benefit babies, it helps you too! Here are some interesting facts you might not have known. 

WHO has suggested nursing can be considered a natural method of birth control within six months after birth! It also reduces risks of ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and breast cancer.

Psychologically, breastfeeding benefits the baby and the mother. While it helps in the cognitive and socio-emotional development of children, it also poses significant effects on the mental health benefits for the mother. Research suggests that it benefits the overall mood, stress levels, and impact of a mother. Further, it helps in promoting happiness and slower recognition of anger which is helpful for mothers in the postpartum stage.

Fact#3: Breastfeeding has long-term benefits

Continuing to breastfeed the child after six months also has health benefits according to medical studies. It lowers the chances that children will acquire childhood and adult illnesses. It protects from diseases such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, obesity, and type I and II diabetes.

Also, it helps prevent conditions, such as obesity, vision problems, and dental issues. 

It can also have a good impact on the child’s IQ. A study also noted that longer duration of breastfeeding results in fewer parent-rated behavioral problems in children.

Breastfeeding vs. Infant Formula

breastfeeding VS milk formula

If you are still evaluating both options feel free to check out our previous article ‘Breastfeeding vs. Alternatives’. It will give you all the insights you need to make an informed decision. 

Mothers (especially working moms) have difficulty deciding whether they will breastfeed or use formula for their infants. While some appreciate the affordability of breastfeeding, others see it as an inconvenience, especially during working days and extended travel. 

Breastfeeding is always good for babies. While the FDA ensures formulated milk is regulated to contain all the necessary nutrients found in breastmilk, infant formula substitutes don’t provide the individualized combinations found in a mother’s milk. 

It’s also vital to understand that a baby’s system isn’t created to thrive off of the dehydrated cow’s milk substitutes, frequently in formula. It can have adverse effects and lead to various digestive issues, such as constipation, gas, and diarrhea. This is especially true in babies who are born prematurely.

Here are the main differences between a mother’s milk and formulated milk:

Mother’s MilkInfant Formula
Free
It’s free! Parents do not have to spend more money on expensive formulas to feed the child.
Convenience
The mother can leave the child anytime without worrying. The bottle can be provided by dad or other family members.
It has different tastes
The child can taste the various foods that are taken by the mother. It slowly introduces the flavors of hard food to babies. Through this, babies will easily accept solid foods when a parent presents it to them.
Flexibility
It provides less hassle on the part of the mother. This is good for on-the-go mothers. 
Convenient
There is no need to wash bottles nor rush to a grocery store to buy milk. Feeding can be done in any setting.
Lesser frequency of feeding
Babies that are fed with formulas do not ask for milk too often. This is because the procedure is less digestible. Hence, feeding is less frequent compared to breastfeeding.
Promotes good IQ level
Studies show that breastfeeding promotes a higher IQ for babies.
Mothers do not have to worry about their diet
Since the mother is not feeding the child directly from her breast, the mother can eat anything. She will not worry about food intake because it will not affect her baby in any way.
Bonding time for parent and child
When a mother is breastfeeding, a bond is created. The skin-to-skin contact enhances the emotional connection of the baby and the mother.
Has benefits for mothers
As it benefits the child, it also helps the mother physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Eases digestion
The components of breastmilk are easily digested in the stomach of an infant.

Breastfeeding challenges for new moms

challenges with breastfeeding

Though breastfeeding poses many benefits for the child and the mother, it can also create challenges. Below you will find a list of some of the most common problems and concerns. 

Personal discomfort

When a new mom is already recovering from labor and delivery, it can be challenging to power through the discomfort that comes from breastfeeding in the first few days and weeks. It’s not uncommon to experience pain and rawness on your nipples during the beginning phase of nursing.

Adjusting your posture and maintaining a good latch are crucial in tackling these physical pains. It’s also helpful to have a sound support system to help boost you up during the learning process.  

Milk Supply

Many new moms are struggling with milk supply. While this can have many causes, including stress or dehydration, a woman’s diet or lack of nutritional supplements can often cause problems

If you’re looking for natural ways to enhance your milk supply, here are some nutrients / foods that have proven to be most effective:

  •  Fenugreek
  •  Blessed Thistle
  •  Fennel Seed
  •  Stinging Nettle
  •  Red Raspberry Extract
  •  Chamomile
  •  Marshmallow Root

MamaNatal offers the only supplement that offers a combination of all of these ingredients AND key vitamins for you (mom) while breastfeeding.

You can learn more here: bit.ly/mamanatal

Clogged Ducts & Mastitis

Clogged ducts are an unfortunate reality for many moms throughout their breastfeeding journey – especially during the first few months when your milk first comes in and your body is trying to figure out your child’s schedule and needs.

If you wake up feeling a tender spot on your breast or a small lump under the skin, these can be clear indicators of a clogged duct.

While your first instinct might be to leave the plugged duct alone and discontinue nursing on that side until the problem fixes itself, this is the worst mistake you can make.To help clear out the clog, it’s critical to continue nursing and draining the infected breast as much as possible. You can also use massage to try and work the plug out manually.

It’s essential to deal with clogged ducts as quickly as possible, before they become infected and turn into mastitis. 

Mastitis is an infection of the breast that results in inflamed breast tissue. It can lead to difficult symptoms, such as aches, pains, and fever. In fact, it’s often mistaken for the flu. 

In severe cases, you might require a prescription of antibiotics from the doctor to remedy the infection.

Large, Flat, or Inverted Nipples Causing Latch Problems

Nipples come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. When a woman is struggling to achieve a good latch with her baby, she often looks to her nipples as the culprit.

Put your worries aside, though. Any nipple, no matter how large, flat, or inverted it may be, can be used to breastfeed a baby. Practice different holds and positions to see if those help the situation. If not, consider contacting a certified lactation consultant and ask for some tips on how to handle your latch issue.

Engorgement

Many women will recognize the sensation of waking up for the first time after their baby is born and realize their little one missed a feeding session. When this occurs, it can leave your breasts feeling tight, heavy, and painful – otherwise known as engorgement.

To keep from getting engorged, be sure to nurse often and allow your baby to empty your breasts at each session. If your baby starts naturally spacing out their session, using your pump can help prevent engorgement from occurring.

Just be cautious, when your breasts are left engorged for too long or too often, it can lead to the clogged ducts and mastitis previously mentioned.

If you are currently experiencing any of these challenges, or others, and would like to learn how other moms are overcoming them, make sure to join our Facebook community ‘MamaNatal’s Community for New & Expecting Moms’. 

And make sure to check out our recent video featuring our community member Roxanne – a mom of 4. 

Tips for Acceptable Breastfeeding Practices

breastfeeding tips

Many medical experts believe that choosing to breastfeed your baby is an ideal way to keep them healthy and nourished after birth. Breast milk includes many different benefits for mom and baby, that formula does not possess.

Not only does breastfeeding promote cognitive, social, and emotional development in children, but it also helps boost their immune systems in the first weeks, months, and years of their lives.

It can be difficult, however, for new moms to get comfortable with the lactation process. If you’re hoping for a smooth transition into nursing your baby, the following tips can help you make the best of your experience:

  • Allow for plenty of skin-to-skin contact, directly after birth. This experience can help regulate baby’s temperature and encourage them to begin nursing.
  • If your little one isn’t acting interested in nursing, try expressing some colostrum manually to help peak their interest. This will allow them to better smell the milk and put their focus on feeding.
  • Try to avoid baby items, such as pacifiers, sugar water, and formula in the first few weeks (unless medically necessary.) Baby needs the opportunity to suckle at your breast as much as possible. This not only allows them to perfect their latch, but it will also help increase your milk supply.
  • Find the most comfortable breastfeeding position before you begin to feed your little one. It also helps to mix up the holds and positions you use, especially in the first several weeks.
  • Watch and listen to your baby to ensure they are sucking and swallowing while nursing. If they fall asleep while drinking, it can help to give them a light tap on the cheek.
  • Let the baby empty all of the breast milk from one  breast before offering the other.
  • Rest often, eat well-balanced meals, and remember that the infant needs to be fed approximately six times during a 24-hour period.
  • If you’re struggling to breastfeed, don’t hesitate to consult with a certified lactation consultant about your problems.

How to determine if you have enough milk for your infant

determine enough milk for infant
  • Pay attention to whether your child settles and seems full after they nurse.
  • Pay attention to the number of wet diapers and bowel movements your little one has each day. By the end of the first week, after your milk comes in, you should notice approximately 6 – 8 wet diapers.
  • The infant’s stool may change from black to yellow mustard within a few days.
  • While your baby might lose some weight in the first day or so, they should start returning to their birth weight within the first two weeks. 

Motherhood is not an easy job and choosing to breastfeed can make the experience seem like even more of a challenge. From sore nipples to leaking milk, there can be a plethora of issues that stem from having a breastfed child.

Despite this, however, breastfeeding is a luxury, which all mothers should take advantage of. It is the most impressive form of nutrition for babies and is a priority for many new moms. Mothers are strong creatures willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the good of their children.

That’s why MamaNatal is here to help you make the most of your breastfeeding experience. Whether you’re searching for the perfect vitamin to address your milk supply issues or you need virtual sessions with lactation consultants, we’re here to help

Our lactation experts have even put together several downloadable free guides to breastfeeding to help ease your transition into nursing and guide you through the process.

Here’s the take-away

breastfeeding takeaways

Breastfeeding is an essential tool for any new mom who wants to provide the top nutritional resources to their baby. When it comes to understanding the importance of breast milk and nursing, there are three important things it’s essential for you to remember.

1. Breastfeeding Offers a Vast Number of Benefits

From mother/baby bonding to a reduced chance of developing conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer, it’s astounding to think about the number of different benefits that come from breastfeeding a child. And it’s not just benefits for the baby, we’re talking about.

New moms can find comfort in the number of ways that nursing a child can positively impact their lives, including decreased chances of developing Postpartum Depression, faster weight loss after birth, and lower stress levels.

2. Breastfeeding is a Challenge

You might think that one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it’s easy to do. On the contrary, however, it can be grounded in challenging moments and uncertainty.

Some of the most common problems nursing mothers face include nipple pain, low milk supply, discomfort while breastfeeding, engorgement, and stress. It’s important to remember, though – the positive advantages that come from breast milk outweigh the obstacles you might be confronted with. Which leads us to take-away number.

3. The Lactation Experts at MamaNatal Can Help

Don’t feel like you’re on this breastfeeding journey alone. During your moments of frustration, uncertainty, and stress, our certified lactation consultants are here to help ease the challenges you’re facing. 

We offer a wide array of beneficial resources, including downloadable guides, vitamins and supplements, and virtual consultations.

If you want to make the most of your breastfeeding experience and come out successful on the other side, please take advantage of our knowledge and skills.

Give the MamaNatal team a call today to learn more about how we can help.