Breastfed babies are ten times less likely to be hospitalized with gastro-enteritis in the early months than babies who are fed formula.
Breast milk contains the correct proportion of the right nutrients for a thriving baby. Breast milk also contains considerable unique components such as lactoferrin that provides the highest absorption of iron. Human breast milk also protects the gut from harmful bacteria and contains lipases which help with the digestion of fats, other growth factors and hormones helping with the baby’s growth and development.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding baby also provides it with its first immunisation – this is provided by the breast milk. It contains living immune cells and antibodies protecting baby from respiratory and intestinal diseases.
The breastmilk that arrives when the baby is born (colostrum) contains substances that help with the immune system. Babies fed from formula milk are at a higher risk or illnesses such as middle ear infections, pneumonia and stomach flue.
When breast feeding human milk changes in its composition during the feed. At the beginning of the feed, it is thirst quenching before changing into a hunger satisfying consistency. As the baby grows, the milk produced changes to match the nutritional needs.
Breastfeeding also provides women with some other great side benefits. Here is one real favourite – many women lose weight more easily after the birth if they choose breastfeeding over bottle feeding. Another big issue is that there is supporting evidence that breastfeeding reduces your risk for breast cancer.
Is It OK to Pump and Bottle Feed Instead of Breastfeed?
Here is one myth often heard expressed by women…..”I can’t breastfeed if I have to go back to work” – well you can! In fact, breastfeeding gives you that special opportunity for bonding with your baby, when you get back from work. Breast fed babies are known to be healthier than formula fed babies causing their mothers to miss work less often.
Breast pumps have also made going back to work and continuing to breast feed a very viable option. Many companies now support nursing breaks and also provide facilities like lactation rooms for mothers to use a breast pump in privacy.
Many nursing mothers have also discovered they can have their cake and eat it too!
In other words, they are not as tied to their baby as they may once have been just because they are breastfeeding as they can use a breast pump to express their milk.
If you do decide to pump your breast milk, then it should be refrigerated as soon as possible. It can be left at room temperature for up to six hours, but this is not recommended. Fresh breast milk can be stored for up to 72 hours in the refrigerator, and if you want to freeze it, it can be stored for up to four months.
If you feel you will need to pump breast milk on a frequent basis, you may become concerned that you will not have enough milk left to feed your baby. This is not true as your body will respond to the pumping and will produce more milk.
Pumping breast milk is probably the easy part – it’s the storage and the containers it’s kept in that can cause lots of problems. The last thing you want is for your baby to go down with tummy cramps and diarrhoea just because you didn’t keep your feeding utensils sterile.
So here’s the golden rule of storing breast milk – make sure it is not just clean, it must be 100% sterile. It’s imperative your hygiene is at its maximum before you even attempt to use your breast pump.