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The Benefits of Breast Milk

The Benefits of Breast Milk

Posted by Krystal Duhaney, RN, BSN, IBCLC on Aug 20th 2020

Breast milk is nothing short of amazing. It is the ideal nutrition for your baby and there’s good reason for it! It protects, heals, and nourishes your baby.

The benefits of breastfeeding are so great that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. They also suggest introducing solids after 6 months with breast milk continuing to be the main source of nutrition up until 12 months. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation goes beyond that, with nursing suggested for 2 years and beyond if the mother and child choose to do so.

Why is breast milk so beneficial?

Breast milk is so beneficial that it has been dubbed “liquid gold” because of everything it can do. There are numerous ways that breast milk supports ideal health for our little ones.

Breast milk builds up your baby’s immune system.

When babies are born they don’t have a fully developed immune system. During the third trimester of pregnancy, antibodies from you are passed to your baby which gives them some protection when they are born. Antibodies are also passed during birth through bacteria from you, but that only lasts a few weeks or months. Your baby’s immune system will naturally build as they are exposed to viruses and germs in everyday life.

Breastfed babies have the added benefit of continuing to receive antibodies that mom creates and passes through breast milk. These antibodies are created when the mother becomes sick or has been exposed to germs. Because of this, breastfed babies typically have fewer infections and illnesses compared to formula-fed babies and are also able to fight off their illnesses quicker.

Breast milk is loaded with vitamins.

Although the amount and types of vitamins will vary depending on your nutrition and vitamin intake, breast milk is generally rich in vitamins. Until six months of age, the only source of vitamins your baby receives is through breastmilk (or formula). Those vitamins help ensure that your baby’s vision, skin and hair, brain, nervous system, and more grow and develop so that your baby is able to thrive.

Some of the many vitamins included in breastmilk are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folic Acid/Folate
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

And more!

As a breastfeeding mama, it’s important to make sure your diet is full of leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats to ensure your baby is getting all of the vital vitamins he/she needs to grow big and strong!

Breast milk is thought to promote a healthy body weight in babies.

A 2018 study by The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that babies who are exclusively breastfed at the age of 6 months are more likely to have a healthy weight on their first birthday than their formula fed counterparts. Formula-fed babies had a higher risk of being overweight at 12 months. The study also found that babies who drank breast milk from a bottle also tended to weigh more than babies exclusively fed from the breast.

Although the data on breastfeeding and obesity is unclear, rapid weight gain in babies has been shown to be an obesity risk factor later on in life. Excessive weight also carries from infancy to childhood to adulthood, which can cause a host of other health issues as a result.

You can rest easy knowing that among other benefits, breast milk (whether from the breast or pumped and bottle fed) can help your little one with healthy weight gain that will have lasting benefits throughout their life.

Breast milk can be used topically to heal rashes, burns, and baby acne.

Not only does breast milk help provide incredible antibodies for viruses and illness, it can be used topically to help heal your baby’s skin. In the early days postpartum, babies can develop what’s called Baby Acne. Baby Acne, while sometimes alarming, is normal and temporary. While it’s not clear what exactly causes baby acne, in most cases, baby acne will go away on its own. However, you can always put a little breast milk on it to help.

If your baby is experiencing a bad diaper rash or skin rash, you can always throw breast milk in a bath to help soothe their skin. You can also try putting it on patches of eczema if your baby suffers from that. It may sound crazy, but some mamas have even been known to use breast milk to help with clogged tear ducts. While kind of an unexpected use for breast milk, it’s amazing how well it works!

Breast milk is, in many ways, a perfect design. For the reasons listed above, it’s no wonder breast milk has received it’s popular title of “liquid gold.” Breast milk is truly an incredible nutritional source for your baby and will help him/her thrive and grow.

What is your favorite benefit of breast milk or breastfeeding for your Milky baby? Let us know if The Official Milky Mama Lactation Support Group. It’s the best community for you to connect with other breastfeeding mamas and get support from the Milky Mama team! We’ll see you in the group.