immune system Tag

Joyful African Mother Carrying Baby Playing With Newborn At Home

How does breast milk compare to formula when it comes to nutritional value?

Breast milk is the gold standard in baby food.

Breast milk contains the perfect amount of nutrients for your baby while also being gentle on their developing digestive system. Nutritional health experts from the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine agree that in an ideal world, mothers would have the opportunity to breastfeed their babies for at least six months and then supplement breast milk with solids until they’re one or two years old.

Breast milk is a complete food source.

No other food source is as perfectly balanced as breast milk. Period. The combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates found in breast milk are exactly what a newborn needs and nothing else. Furthermore, breast milk is easier for newborns to digest, which means the nutrients in breast milk are easier for a baby’s body to absorb than the nutrients in formula.

Breast milk is completely customized healthcare.

It is impossible for science to duplicate the nutritional value of breast milk because breast milk is completely dynamic and unique. Not only are the nutritional profiles of breast milk different from one mother to another; they’re different from one mother’s nursing session to the next. That’s because saliva from a nursing newborn delivers information to the mother’s immune system about her baby’s nutritional needs. If your baby’s body is fighting off an infection, your body will deliver the best antibodies to resist the infection. Studies show that breastfed babies have fewer stomach, lung, and ear infections, and if they do get an infection while breastfeeding, it tends to be less severe.

The nutrients in breast milk give babies long-term health benefits.

Studies show that infants breastfed exclusively for six months followed by a year of breastfeeding supplemented by solid foods were protected against ear, throat, and sinus infections for the first SIX YEARS of their lives. How wild is that? Compared to formula-fed infants, children and adults who were breastfed as infants also appear to have lower risk of food allergies, asthma, eczema, diabetes, and obesity.

Pumping breast milk offers similar benefits to breastfeeding.

When you’re pumping, your body isn’t getting the input from baby to completely customize breast milk. However, breast milk remains a biologically perfect food source for infants, whether it’s pumped or provided directly from the breast. For mothers who want to give their babies all the advantages of breast milk but are struggling with breastfeeding, returning to work, or otherwise not breastfeeding exclusively, a comfortable, efficient breast pump offers a middle path.

Call or email to learn more about pumping and breast pumps.

Milk N Mamas baby is owned and operated by mothers who have been there and done that. We’ve worried about balancing our babies’ nutritional needs with the demands of returning to work. We’ve worried about how the decisions we made when they were little will impact how they turn out as adults. We’ve experienced all the stresses and concerns new moms (and not-so-new moms) deal with, and we’re here to help. If you’ve got a question about breastfeeding or pumping, get in touch today.

New research shows mRNA COVID vaccines offer serious protection to breastfed babies.

Breaking news on breastfeeding and COVID resistance in babies

Though COVID-19 hasn’t taken the same toll on children as on adults, it is taking a toll, according to recent studies. In fact, one in four children who develop COVID have lingering problems, also known as “long COVID,” according to a systematic review of 80,071 children with COVID-19.

What does long COVID look like?

Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, scientists are still figuring out what the long-term results of contracting it might be. However, around 25% of children and adolescents with COVID develop symptoms that can last twelve weeks or longer. Subjects of the study frequently reported neuropsychiatric problems such as moodiness, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches; cardiorespiratory issues like congestion, exercise intolerance, coughing, and arrhythmia; skin-related conditions including excessive sweating, itching, and hair loss; and gastrointestinal problems like constipation, abdominal pain, and nausea.

And that’s a small sampler of the potential ailments that kids with long COVID are reporting. The longer COVID lingers, the more scientists will know about all of the possible complications. However, for now, the study coauthor Sonia Villapol of Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas says that it’s clear that “children and adolescents have also physical and mental health consequences derived from COVID-19.”

Which vaccines offer breastfeeding babies the greatest protection?

We’ve already discussed the value of getting vaccinated against COVID if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding in a couple of blog posts. Recent studies indicate that some vaccines are better than others at offering protection to newborns. If you want to pass the protective properties of your vaccine to your newborn via breast milk, a March 2022 study for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends opting for the mRNA shots from Moderna or Pfizer.

In the JAMA study, breast milks samples were taken from 124 lactating women over a period of 100 days. The women had received either the mRNA vaccine or the vector-based vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca. Researchers measured the antibodies in milk samples and found more than 9 in 10 women who received the mRNA vaccines had detectable IgA antibodies, which play an important role in protecting breastfed babies from COVID. Of the women who took the vector-based vaccines, fewer than half had IgA antibodies in their milk. The researchers concluded that “an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine is the optimal choice for lactating women when they want to transfer breast milk antibodies to their infants.”

Does my baby get the same protection if the breast milk is pumped?

Yes. While fresh breast milk is the best for babies, breast milk can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, and it maintains most of its immune properties. Reheating breast milk in the microwave and freezing breast milk both diminish some of the health properties, but not all. Carefully reheated breast milk still offers more immune benefits than formula, even if it’s been in the freezer for up to six months.

You’re still the best protection your baby has.

I take this as good news for worried moms. There is something you can do to protect your baby from COVID and other respiratory illnesses – breastfeed! We’re here to help in whatever way we can, whether that’s providing medical resources to help you make sound decisions or providing support when you’re beginning your breastfeeding journey. Need help finding a breast pump? We’re here for that, too. Give us a call or email today.

Does breastfeeding protect babies from allergies?

Does breastfeeding protect babies from allergies?

More than 300 million people around the world suffer from asthma. Hay fever, food allergies, and other allergic diseases affect around 3 in 10 people globally. During the last few decades, these conditions have increased rapidly, creating a waterfall of negative health impacts. Because these conditions are chronic, the harmful and disruptive symptoms of these diseases take a toll on quality of life among sufferers.

How can you reduce your child’s risk of allergic diseases?

Breast milk offers hope for parents who want to spare their children a lifetime of sniffling and sneezing. Most doctors and scientists agree that breast milk is “the gold standard for healthy growth and development.” In addition to being custom tailored to your infant’s needs, breast milk is associated with a lower incidence of allergic and infectious diseases in childhood and young adulthood. Although scientists can’t completely explain how breast milk does that magic it does, they’re certain that breastfeeding leads to a more mature immune system, which reduces the risk of allergies.

What makes breast milk so special to baby’s immune system?

Research has shown that nutrients (carbohydrates, fatty acids, etc.) and bioactive factors (enzymes, hormones, growth factors, etc.) in human milk protect against early respiratory infections. These same factors boost the integrity of your baby’s gut ecosystem, which reduces your baby’s risk of severe conditions, such diabetes, obesity, infections, and allergic diseases. These benefits can follow baby all the way to adulthood!

How do I maximize the health benefits of breastfeeding?

When you nurse your newborn, your immune system interacts with your baby’s immune system to create the perfect nutritional blend, including early, beneficial exposure to allergens. This offers protection against a number of chronic conditions, including asthma and allergies. In order to get the maximum health benefits from breast milk, scientists recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life and up to two years of age.

What if I can’t exclusively breastfeed?

Not all moms can breastfeed full-time, and some moms find it impossible. That doesn’t mean you have to give up the health benefits of breast milk. A comfortable, reliable breast pump allows you to continue providing breast milk to your baby even if you have to return to work or if you’ve been struggling with breastfeeding for any reason. While breast milk that is pumped isn’t tailored to your newborn’s needs like milk produced during a feeding session, it still contains the best combination of nutrients and bioactive factors available to your baby.

You’re the gold standard when it comes to your baby’s health.

Whether you nurse or pump, the milk your body is making for your little one is pure health gold. If you need help choosing a pump that will encourage milk production, give us a call or email us. We’re happy to provide guidance and support as you make your decision.

Caucasian blonde baby six months old lying on cozy knitted blanket at home Kid wearing green clothes

How breastfeeding protects children from obesity

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of obese children worldwide has increased ten-fold in the last four decades. The Pennsylvania Department of Health found that nearly 2 out of every 10 elementary school-age children in the state were considered obese during the 2017─2018 school year. Obesity should concern all parents because it’s related to other chronic health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Fortunately, breastfeeding can significantly reduce your child’s risk of obesity, especially when paired with other prevention strategies.

Exclusive breastfeeding provides the greatest protection against obesity.

The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to gain the greatest overall health benefits provided by breastmilk. A recent study found that exclusively breastfed infants have a 31% lower chance of developing obesity later in life. However, any breastfeeding at all will provide some protection.

How does breastfeeding prevent obesity?

Breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for newborns, according to medical experts. Because it is created specifically for infants, it is easier to digest than formula and it provides exactly the nutrients your baby needs. In addition, breast milk is “controlled” by your baby’s appetite. Because breastfed babies are better able to regulate their food intake, they run a lower risk of obesity.

When does a newborn require solids?

Introducing solids or formula early increases the risk of childhood obesity and its associated risks later in life. It can also increase your child’s risk of developing food allergies. If you’re able to exclusively breastfeed your baby, she won’t need solids until she’s six months old.

Seek help when breastfeeding to get all the benefits your baby deserves.

The same study of Pennsylvania childhood obesity rates found that mothers who received support from profession lactation counselors were more likely to continue breastfeeding for the first six months. A lactation counselor can help you determine the best way to hold your baby and learn how to identify your baby’s feeding cues. She can also give you invaluable guidance and emotional support when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

We’re here when you need us.

For moms who have a difficult time breastfeeding or who must return to work, pumping can be a viable option to ensure that your baby gets all the nutritional and health benefits of breast milk. At Milk N Mamas Baby, our lactation experts can help you successfully navigate the early days of breastfeeding and pumping and ensure long-term success as well. We can help you choose a pump that maximizes both your comfort and your breastmilk production and offer tips to get you over the bumps. Give us a call today to learn more about the benefits of breast milk and how to incorporate pumping.

flu season and breast milk

Can breast milk protect babies during flu season?

Breast milk offers a number of advantages over cow’s milk and formula because it is the “biologic norm” for infant nutrition. It contains natural human hormones and nutrients that help newborns thrive as well as “distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonization,” according to a study on the composition of human milk.

Unlike cow’s milk or formula, breast milk is dynamic, changing based on the needs of the infant as well as the environment. In other words, yes, breast milk can protect babies during flu season, and much better than the alternatives.

Breast milk strengthens the immune system and, specifically, respiratory health

A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure, and breast milk is the number one preventative therapy for newborn health. Aside from vitamins and other health-boosting nutrients, human milk contains cells such as macrophages, T cells, stem cells, and lymphocytes. These stimulate the development of a newborn’s immune system, and the effects last for years or, in some cases, for the child’s entire lifetime.

Breast milk passes immune information between mother and child

Because infants’ immune systems are immature when they’re born, they need help from mom’s immune system. Breast milk does more than transfer immunity, though. It actually teaches baby’s immune system what to be on the lookout for. Cytokines and chemokines passed from mother to infant during feeding inform the infant’s immune system of potential threats. This communication improves immune defense against infection and inflammation.

Protection from the flu can be improved by diet, pumping, and vaccination

While breast milk alone will boost your baby’s immune system, you can amplify the flu protection you provide your newborn in several ways.

You don’t have to breastfeed to provide the benefits of breast milk

Even if breastfeeding hasn’t worked out for you, you can provide all of the benefits of nursing through pumping. A comfortable breast pump is critical to a successful pumping session. If you’re not sure which breast pump is right for you, get in touch with your friends at Milk N Mamas Baby. We can help you choose a pump that maximizes your comfort and your breastmilk production to ensure baby is protected during flu season.

The pumpkin spice news breastfeeding moms have been waiting for

Autumn is officially here, and that means it’s pumpkin spice season. While motherhood often means sacrificing things you love (like that tenth cup of coffee if you’re breastfeeding), one thing you don’t have to sacrifice this October is the flavor of fall. We all suspected there was magic in pumpkin spice, and it turns out, we weren’t wrong.

Pumpkin boosts breastmilk production

“Galactagogue” is one of our favorite words around here, and not just because it’s fun to say and sounds like a comic book villain. According to the National Institute for Health, “Galactagogues are synthetic or plant molecules used to induce, maintain, and increase milk production.” We’ve covered a few of them in past blog posts, and The Great Pumpkin falls into that celebrated food group, too.

How pumpkins benefit breastmilk

  • Pumpkins have antioxidant and antibacterial agents that improve the immune system of moms and babies.
  • The bright orange glow of a pumpkin marks it as a food rich in health-boosting nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin A, and potassium, and it’s a low calorie source of fiber.
  • Studies show that eating pumpkin and other galactagogues is significantly correlated to increased milk volume.

But it’s not just pumpkin that’s good for milk production…the spices are, too!

That’s right! Cinnamon is a traditional herbal treatment to enhance milk production. Cinnamon falls into a class of plants called “nervine herbs,” which means herbs that help reduce anxiety. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, stress can impact milk production, so add a little cinnamon to your pumpkin to ease stress-causing anxiety.

Like cinnamon, ginger has a long history with breastfeeding moms. It many areas, it’s still given to women after childbirth to stimulate milk production. Research is underway, but at least one study has already returned some promising results, so throw a pinch of ginger in that pie!

Happy pumpkin spice season, mamas!

It was a long summer, and I think most of us are good and ready for fall. It’s time to rest and recuperate. Go ahead and enjoy a little hibernation, mama bear, and indulge in that pumpkin spice magic. You deserve it.

If you’re headed out and about to the coffee shop for your favorite fall brew, you’ll need a fashionable bag, and we think this Sarah Wells version is perfect for the fall! Pick yours up today while you’re here.beautiful breast pump bag for fall

 

How does breast milk protect babies from COVID?

We already knew breast milk was an immune booster

We were telling you the health benefits of breast milk way back in 2019. It contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs to develop. It’s also rich in immune cells and reduces the risk of asthma and allergies, among other childhood and lifelong illnesses. In fact, one study we cited in that earlier post described breast milk as “required for optimal infant growth and development.”

You can’t get much better press than that. Or can you?

The news about breast milk’s health benefits keeps getting better

A University of Birmingham study released in 2021 found that immune cells called regulatory T cells are nearly twice as abundant in breastfed babies as in formula fed babies. In addition, the study found that bacteria that support T cells are more abundant in the guts of breastfed babies. Optimally-functioning T cells are critical today as they play a key role in immunity to foreign substances, includng COVID-19.

T cells known as “killer T cells” can target and destroy virus-infected cells. Scientists hope that they may help provide some immunity to COVID-19, according to a recent Nature article. While T cells can’t prevent infection, they can reduce the severity of it as well as reducing transmission.

But wait – there’s more! Breast milk also passes on COVID-19 vaccine benefits

Early studies of COVID-19 vaccines excluded pregnant and breastfeeding women, which led many moms to wonder if they should risk getting vaccinated. However, new data is in from a study that explored the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in both groups of women. The news is good!

The study showed that vaccine-induced antibody levels were much higher than levels induced by natural infection with COVID-19 during pregnancy. Further, the researchers found that those same antibodies were transferred to babies from mothers via umbilical cord blood and breast milk.

“We now have clear evidence the COVID vaccines can induce immunity that will protect infants,” said researcher Galit Alter in an interview with U.S. News and World Report. “We hope this study will catalyze vaccine developers to recognize the importance of studying pregnant and lactating individuals and include them in trials. The potential for rational vaccine design to drive improved outcomes for mothers and infants is limitless, but developers must realize that pregnancy is a distinct immunological state, where two lives can be saved simultaneously with a powerful vaccine.”

Breast milk for the win – again

Naturally, we’re not surprised. We’ve known breast milk is a little bit scientific wonder and a little bit mother’s magic for a while. We just wanted you to know that the love you pass on to your little one when you’re nursing is a pretty big deal in the fight against COVID-19 and other preventable illnesses.