When a child is born, his immune system is immature. Few mechanisms are really ready to defend it against all the germs circulating.
Breast milk is a substance filled with proteins, fats and carbohydrates. These are "ultra-adapted" to the biology and needs of the newborn. What you might not know is that it also contains an array of soldiers and highly effective germ-killing weapons!
Breast milk antibodies - All you need to know
It has been scientifically proven that breastfed children have fewer minor infections such as colds, ear infections, gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections. Breastfeeding even offers a considerable reduction in the risk of serious infections such as meningitis, lower respiratory infections (pneumonia) and sepsis.
Breast milk - other benefits?
Of course, the list is far from over! The longer mothers breastfeed their children, the less the child develops allergies. Breastfeeding also offers a reduced risk of childhood diabetes and cancer in young people. In addition, breastfed babies visit their doctor less often because of infections. Let's not forget the advantagesemotional and practical effects that breastfeeding gives to mother and baby!
What's in breast milk that formula or cow's milk doesn't?
- It contains human antibodies against several infections. It's kind of like a “maternal vaccine”. Therefore, the mother gives part of the information that her immune system has acquired during her lifetime or more recently: through the placenta to the unborn child and through breast milk to the newborn.
- It contains living cells of the mother's immune system which will defend the child until his own immune system takes over. Can you imagine that? You are giving your infants real living cells that will defend them even if you don't catch this infection, it's wonderful! You're providing him with a temporary immune system of sorts.
- It contains antiseptic substances to destroy germs including lysozyme.
- It contains substances that help the specific proliferation of "friendly" bacteria in its digestive system to help build up its intestinal flora.
Any downsides to breastmilk?
Yes. Breast milk cannot protect against all infections and when the mother has HIV, she can transmit the virus to her child through breast milk. The risk is small, but present.
I wonder if I will breastfeed or not or I just don't want to…
Your child will not benefit fromall these benefits. Even if you decide to breastfeed for only one or two weeks, you will have given your child elements to enable him to defend himself. It is best to breastfeed for as long as possible, but according to your wishes and abilities. This is when breastfeeding resources are very important to support you.
I didn't breastfeed or I am unable to breastfeed and I feel guilty
Your child probably won't be stunted or weak for the rest of his life because you didn't breastfeed! Let's be realistic and don't sink into depression please! Your children need you mentally fit and need your love and attention far more than your milk. On the other hand, when you want to breastfeed, it really is a godsend for your child! A gift of self in every sense of the word, which is worth it!
Good to know, it is possible, although rare, to never have a milk flow
In short, breast milk contains substances and cells to "arm" your little ones. Commercial milk and cow's milk cannot perform these functions. On the other hand, formula milks tend to come closer and closer to the composition of breast milk over the years. Maybe one day there will be infant formulas with added immune defense elements…
The Breastfeeding section on Motherforlife.com contains other articles on the benefits of breastfeeding, I invite you to consult it.