We all know that breastfeeding is natural, it’s the way we’ve fed babies for ages. What we might not realize is that while our biology hasn’t changed the structure of our community has. We have gone so far from the “village support” system. Being able to breastfeed offers benefits for mom and baby but many moms struggle and aren’t able to reach their breastfeeding goals. A lactation consultant also known as an IBCLC can help support moms from conception to weaning. Let’s discuss the evidence-based benefits for mom and baby and how an IBCLC can offer support.
Benefits for the mother:
Reduction in instances of breast and ovarian cancer are a benefit of breastfeeding. This can be explained rather simply. During lactation most moms experience a decrease in estrogen exposure which lessens their likelihood of experiencing breast cancer. The lack of ovulation typically experienced during lactation reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. While women who nurse longer than a year experience the most reduction in risk of cancer even moms who nurse for less than a year benefit from a lowered cancer risk.
Sleep is vitally important, especially while healing after the birth of a baby. It has been shown that mothers who breastfeed get more sleep on average than mothers who formula feed. This can be explained by the simplicity of breastfeeding, instead of getting up and going through the process to prepare formula you just grab baby and lay back down. This allows mom to get right back to sleep. More sleep helps moms be healthier mentally and physically.
Benefits for the infant:
Our immune system is our defense against pathogens and illness. Newborns arrive in this world with a clean slate, breastfeeding can help lay an ideal foundation that helps keep baby healthy throughout their lives. While we all know breastmilk provides the perfect blend of sugars, protein, fat and vitamins it also contains some other extremely invaluable components. Baby’s immune system is greatly impacted by breastmilk because it contains:
- Immune factors
- White blood cells
These together help prepare baby’s immune system and helps them live a healthier life overall. Breastmilk is also adaptable and has been seen to change depending on baby’s health. This alone is an excellent reason to choose to breastfeed or feed your baby breastmilk. Breastfed babies also have a lower risk of allergies to cow’s milk and instance of atopic dermatitis than non-breastfed babies. The immune system isn’t the only thing so heavily impacted by breastfeeding. Breastmilk boosts baby’s brain development. Breastfed babies have higher IQs at school age than non-breastfed babies. It is also noted that preterm babies who are fed breastmilk have better outcomes with their brain development than formula fed preterm babies. The physical interaction of breastfeeding is also believed to be of great importance for babies’ long term brain development. The frequent skin to skin contact and maternal care given to breastfed babies is extremely beneficial.
Amber Ginn IBCLC, IYCFS, CD
Now that we have looked over the benefits for mom and baby let’s talk about how an IBCLC can help you reach your breastfeeding goals. Working with a board certified specialist ensures you will receive an support from someone highly trained. As an IBCLC I focus on using my passion and drive to help my clients feel empowered and cared for. Whether the issue you are dealing with is big or small I will be there to help you. You and your baby can experience these important and lifelong benefits. The best way to guarantee success with breastfeeding is education and early intervention. I encourage every new mom to take a breastfeeding class, I offer them virtually or in your home. A prenatal lactation consult is also vital, in conjunction with my breastfeeding class you will have a strong foundation on what to expect and how to feed your baby at your breast. If things come up after baby arrives an in-person or virtual consult can allow us to work together to trouble shoot your issues and get you back on track to meeting your breastfeeding goals.
Amber Ginn IBCLC, IYCFS, CD