Baby Matters

Baby Matters: Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is becoming quite popular again among moms. In this week’s Baby Matters we looked into how breastfeeding benefits babies, as well as moms. “For the mother, reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, reduced ovarian cancer and reduced thyroid cancer,” said Paula Mcrae. Mcrae has served as a lactation consultant for over 22 years. She currently works at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Mcrae said breastfeeding even has an effect on women suffering from gestational diabetes, “If they breastfeed the baby of that diabetic pregnancy they cut their risk of becoming a full blown type 2 diabetic by 50 percent.” Mcrae said moms also burn four to five hundred calories a day when they breastfeed.

For babies, Mcrae said breastfeeding strengthens their immune system, “There’s all of the immune benefits that protect that baby with a very immature immune system from infections. That’s especially crucial for a preemie, but for every baby.” She explained a mom’s milk changes as the baby’s nutritional needs change,”That milk is tailor made for that baby. It’s got everything they need in it at that particular point in their development. It changes as the baby grows. A mom of a baby that’s six months old, her milk is different than a mom of a one month old and a one-year-old or a toddler.”

She said there are hunger cues that every mom should be aware of, “Baby is awake, baby is searching. You see the hand going to the mouth. The baby starts to smack. If mom is holding the baby, the baby is rooting and turning towards the breast. It’s only when no one picks up on all that is when the baby starts to cry out of frustration.” Mcrae explained that frustration can lead to difficulties when a baby is trying to latch, “It’s much harder to get a screaming, crying baby to focus to latch. If the baby is showing those earlier cues and the baby is a lot calmer it’s easier to get a calm baby latched on than a screaming, flailing baby.”