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Breastfeeding by Alyssa Hoops, SEMO Nursing Student

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Breastfeeding is the human body’s natural way of providing vitamins and nutrients to a baby. Breastmilk provides many benefits to the baby that formula does not, including antibodies to help fight coughs, colds, and the flu. A breastfed baby is less likely to experience an upset stomach and is also less likely to develop obesity, diabetes, and asthma later in life. In addition to providing numerous benefits to a baby, breastfeeding also decreases a mother’s risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or suffering from a heart attack. Breastfeeding is also very cost efficient in comparison to formula.

Once a mother gives birth, her breasts fill with colostrum. Colostrum is a thick, yellow colored fluid that is highly concentrated with carbohydrates, proteins, and antibodies, but low in fat which is beneficial to newborns because they have difficulty digesting fats. A very small amount of colostrum goes a long way and will keep the baby satisfied and nurtured for several hours. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), colostrum is the “perfect food for newborns” and they recommend initiating feeding within the first hour after birth. Once the baby is three to four days old, the mother’s breastmilk will come in and replace the colostrum. The baby will then breastfeed for longer and require more breastmilk compared to colostrum. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life. Once the infant is 6 months old, it is recommended that solid foods be introduced in addition to breastmilk until the infant is at least one year old.