Baby Care

How Breastfeeding Benefits Newborns and Moms

If you’ve ever wondered whether breastfeeding is worth it, the answer’s in: for sure. Not only does breastfeeding foster a strong bond between mama and baby, it offers both several unique advantages that can’t be found in formula.

Breast milk is easier to digest than infant formula

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, breast milk is “a living biological fluid with many qualities not replicable by human milk substitutes.” Among those qualities is the ability to adapt itself to the changing needs of an infant as she grows. During a single nursing session, breast milk transforms from a thinner foremilk that satisfies her thirst to a creamy hindmilk with higher fat content. 

Even when mother’s own diet is inadequate, breast milk contains the essential nutrients for her baby’s development. Naturally, since breast milk is produced specifically for the nourishment of an infant, it’s easier to digest and even includes digestive enzymes and bioactive molecules that keep your infant’s gastrointestinal tract healthy. 

While formula is designed to mimic as closely as possible breast milk, it’s impossible to replicate the components of mother’s milk. Baby’s gastrointestinal tract must adapt in order to process formula. For instance, breast milk contains higher levels of whey, which babies digest easily, than casein. Formula, on the other hand, has higher levels of casein, which takes longer for a baby to digest. Some babies also prove to be allergic to both cow’s milk protein and soy protein, which are the most prolific formulas. 

Breast milk boosts baby’s immune system

In addition to carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones, breast milk is rich in immune cells. Among these, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have anti-infective properties against against pathogens in the infant gastrointestinal tract, including Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter. The proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme prevent the spread of potentially pathogenic bacteria, preventing illnesses in infants. 

Breast milk reduces the risk of asthma and allergies, and infants that are exclusively  breastfed for the first six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. Recent studies have also suggested that breast milk protect infants from late metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. All of these perks have led one study to call breast milk “a biological fluid required for optimal infant growth and development”.

Breastfeeding is linked with higher IQ scores

Breast milk is a natural source of fatty acids such as DHA and AA, which are critical in neurodevelopment. Several studies have shown a correlation between breastfeeding and increases in verbal IQ and performance IQ as children mature, and at least one group of scientists have found a relationship between breast milk and increases in white matter growth in children’s brains. 

Breastfeeding burns calories

All that good, brain growth-inducing fat in breast milk has to come from somewhere, right? Essentially, your body is melting your own body fat to produce rich, fatty milk for your baby. For mothers who are a healthy weight before childbirth, evidence indicates that breastfeeding helps to quickly shed those pounds gained during pregnancy. A 2008 study of 30,000 Danish women found that breastfeeding was associated with lower postpartum weight retention in all categories of prepregnancy BMI and concluded that breastfeeding as recommended could “eliminate weight retention by 6 months postpartum in many women.”

Breastfeeding offers moms health benefits, too

Believe it or not, breastfeeding even makes mom healthier! One recent study indicates that breastfeeding can reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer by up to 91 percent. Another study found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63 percent less likely to develop an ovarian tumor than women who breastfed for less than seven months. The longer the women breastfed, the greater the protection they received. 

What are you waiting for? Start reaping the rewards of breastfeeding now. Call Milk N Mamas Baby or fill out your breast pump order form today. 

When will my newborn finally sleep through the night?

If you find yourself waking several times each night to soothe your crying newborn back to sleep, you’re not alone. That may be small comfort, but it should offer some assurance that this is perfectly normal. While you may not be getting sufficient sleep, your little one is probably doing just fine.

How much sleep is your newborn actually getting each day?

The average infant sleeps 16-17 hours per 24-hour day. That may come as a surprise to a mom who’s getting four hours of sleep herself. You would be justified in asking when all this sleeping is taking place. Unlike older babies and adults, newborns sleep in short three to four hour increments scattered throughout the course of the day.

It’s easy to forget all the work those sleepy little bodies are doing. Your baby’s nervous system is rapidly developing as well as her senses. She’s getting bigger and figuring out how her body works. It may not seem like a big deal to a grownup whose body has done all the growing it’s going to do, but it’s exhausting, and she needs a lot of sleep to keep her strong and healthy.

Natural sleeping and nursing patterns are similar

During her first weeks, your baby’s body isn’t attuned to the normal day and night cycle, and she spends more time in REM sleep than in deeper non-REM sleep. Over time, she’ll begin to pick up on the cues that indicate when it’s time to play and when it’s time to rest, but even then, most breastfed babies will wake in the middle of the night for a feeding. That’s not a sign that your baby is malfunctioning. In fact, her natural sleep cycle is very similar to her natural nursing cycle.

A newborn should be nursing 8-12 times per day during the first month and 7-9 times per day by one to two months. That’s about every 1½  to 3 hours. In other words, your nursing baby’s daily agenda may resemble a cat’s: one continuous snooze interrupted just long enough for meals. Good for the baby, but exhausting to mom and dad.

Helping your breastfeeding baby sleep through the night

By the end of her first year, your baby’s sleep pattern will begin to mirror yours with nighttime hours and longer, consolidated sleep periods, but it is possible in some cases to help your nursing infant to sleep through the night earlier, according to a research study conducted by the University of Illinois.

In the study, one group of breastfeeding moms were instructed:

  • to offer a “focal feed” (between 10 PM and 12 AM) to their infants every night,
  • to gradually lengthen intervals between middle-of-the-night feeds by carrying out alternative caretaking behaviors (eg, reswaddling, diapering, walking),
  • and to maximize environmental differences between day and nighttime.

By the third week of the study, the infants receiving the special treatment were sleeping in significantly longer episodes than babies in the control group. By week eight, 100% of the treatment babies were sleeping through the night compared to 23% of the control infants. The morning after a long night’s sleep, the treatment infants nursed longer than the control group. However, the total milk intake over a 24 hour period was the same for both groups.

Until then, get your ZZZZs where you can, mom!

Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin from your brain, and oxytocin, also known as the anti-stress hormone, often makes moms feel drowsy and warm. Rather than resisting the urge to doze created by breastfeeding, take advantage of it. If it’s possible, follow your newborn’s model, and get in a nap after nursing. It’ll take the edge off of those sleepless nights.

If it’s not possible to squeeze naps into your daily routine, remind yourself that this too shall pass. Before long, your newborn will be sleeping soundly through the night, and those long, sleepless nights will be a distant memory.

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Caring for Baby around the Holidays

Don’t you just love the holidays? This time of years gives us a chance to reunite with friends and family and remember all the good times we had together. Unfortunately for new moms, the holiday season may not be quite as enjoyable. The holidays can be quite a busy time, and as the mother of a newborn, your stress level is probably already through the roof. Here are a few tips from Milk N Mamas Baby to help you get through this holiday season without spreading yourself too thin or sacrificing the crucial care and attention your new baby needs.

Let Someone Else Host

If you’re accustomed to hosting friends and family during the holidays, it can be hard to let go. Of course, your brand new baby needs attention more than your circle, and nobody will think any less of you if you abdicate your hosting duties during baby’s first year. When the party’s at someone else’s house, you retain the option of ducking out early if things get too hectic for you and the baby, plus you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after everyone else leaves!

Breastfeeding during the Holidays

Your baby needs to eat on a regular schedule and missing feedings can be bad for your health, potentially leading to blocked milk ducts or even mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue. But what’s a new mom to do when baby’s usual feeding time falls during the family meal or some other inconvenient time? The short answer is simple: feeding your baby should be your priority, no matter what time of year it is. It’s important to stick to a schedule, even if it means leaving the room for a bit while your family does other things. Most likely, they will understand and encourage you to do whatever you must to take good care of their newest family member.

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

Before you set out on any holiday adventures, you and your partner need to get on the same page about boundaries related to how much contact family members should have with your new baby. Your family will no doubt be excited to meet your new addition, but if baby starts to get fussy, it might be a good time to reinforce those boundaries. If the little one is getting overstimulated, it’s probably best that you politely let your family know it’s time to give mom and baby some space.

The holidays can be a lot of fun but they can also be tremendously stressful, even without a new baby in tow. We hope that these tips will help you manage that stress so that you and your baby can have a joyous holiday season. Of course, accessories like nursing bras and automatic breast pumps can go a long way towards reducing your holiday stress. Before you close your browser, don’t forget to take a look at the range of products we sell here on our site at Milk N Mamas Baby. We’ve got lots of convenient products that can make your holiday season easier to manage, and you may be able to get some items for free through your health insurance. From all of us at Milk N Mamas, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year!

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