For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They’ve discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth – nature made properties that science simply cannot copy.
The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.
In addition to making your baby healthier, breast feeding may also make him smarter. Many studies have proved that breast fed babies tend to be smarter than babies who were fed with formula or other methods. Breast feeding does help with nutrients and the support of brain growth, which is something every mother should think about.
The benefits for the nursing mom are just as good as they are for the baby. The hormones that are released during breast feeding will curb blood loss post delivery and help to shrink the uterus back to its normal size.
Long term, the breast feeding mom will have a lower risk for pre-menopausal breast cancer, which is the kind that strikes before the age of 50. The benefits will begin to show with three to six months of breast feeding and increase the longer that breast feeding continues.
By now, you should realize that breast milk is one power packed liquid. It offers more for your baby than formula, or any other scientific creation for that matter. As you begin to plan for the future of your baby, make a commitment to breast feeding him for as long as you possibly can – as it will do both your bodies the world of good.
What’s going on?
Perhaps what’s even more remarkable than visible changes are the extensive changes that are taking place inside of your breasts. The developing placenta stimulates the release of estrogen and progesterone, which will in turn stimulate the complex biological system that helps to make lactation possible.
Before you get pregnant, a combination of supportive tissue, milk glands, and fat make up the larger portions of your breasts. The fact is your newly swollen breasts have been preparing for your pregnancy since you were in your mother’s womb!
When you were born, your main milk ducts had already formed. Your mammary glands stayed quiet until you reached puberty, when a flood of the female hormone estrogen caused them to grow and also to swell. During pregnancy, those glands will kick into high gear.
Before your baby arrives, glandular tissue has replaced a majority of the fat cells and accounts for your bigger than before breasts. Each breast may actually get as much as 1 ½ pounds heavier than before!
Nestled among the fatty cells and glandular tissue is an intricate network of channels or canals known as the milk ducts. The pregnancy hormones will cause these ducts to increase in both number and size, with the ducts branching off into smaller canals near the chest wall known as ductules.
At the end of each duct is a cluster of smaller sacs known as alveoli. The cluster of alveoli is known as a lobule, while a cluster of lobule is known as a lobe. Each breast will contain around 15 – 20 lobes, with one milk duct for every lobe.
The milk is produced inside of the alveoli, which is surrounded by tiny muscles that squeeze the glands and help to push the milk out into the ductules. Those ductules will lead to a bigger duct that widens into a milk pool directly below the areola.
The milk pools will act as reservoirs that hold the milk until your baby sucks it through the tiny openings in your nipples.
Mother Nature is so smart that your milk duct system will become fully developed around the time of your second trimester, so you can properly breast feed your baby even if he or she arrives earlier than you are anticipating.
Benefits of Breast Feeding
Once you’ve given birth, breast feeding is the single most important thing you can do to protect your baby and help to promote good health. Best of all, breast feeding is free.
Along with saving you money on HMR (Human Milk Replacement), breast feeding can also help you to keep your medical bills down. Babies that are fed with formula get sicker more often and more seriously than babies that are breast fed. They also have more ear infections, respiratory infections, and other problems.
This can be even truer if your family has had a history of allergies. When a baby is breast fed, the antibodies pass on from the mother to the baby, helping to protect against illness and allergies. As the baby’s system matures, his body will begin to make its own antibodies, and he’ll be more equipped to handle sensitivities of food.
Sucking on the breast will also help with the development or jaw alignment and the development of the cheekbone. For this very reason, there is less of the need for costly orthodontic work when the child gets older.
Unlike formula, breast milk is always ready, always available, convenient, and always the right temperature for feeding. Plus, it contains all of the vitamins and minerals your growing baby needs, saving you a lot of money.
Breast feeding also offers many benefits for the mom as well. The baby sucking at the breast will cause contractions right after birth, leading to less bleeding for the mom, and helping her uterus to its shape before pregnancy much faster.
Breast feeding will also burn calories, so a mom can lose weight much faster than if she fed her baby with a bottle. Breast feeding will also create a special bond with the mother and the baby – which is one thing formula simply cannot do.