Although many mothers will switch to bottles over the course of her child’s breastfeeding stage, the real benefit involves milk directly from her bosom. Why, you might ask?
Easy answer: Colostrum.
Breastfeeding and Colostrum
Colostrum is a nutrient-rich milk available to infants through their mothers during and after the time of birth. Sometimes called “liquid gold,” the colostrum in a mother’s milk stymies harmful bacteria, nourishes the infant in question, and continues to offer benefits that multiply and sustain themselves, even after the mother quits nursing her baby.
How does it work? Keep on reading to find out why you might wish you were still an infant.
How Breast Milk Works
We’ve established that breast milk yields colostrums. What we haven’t divulged is the way in which colostrum actually works.
Colostrum is rich with antibodies and white blood cells that aid in the elimination of bacteria, facilitation of cell growth and maturity, and the promotion of well-oiled bodily functions. It lasts only for a small period of time after childbirth, and then dissipates as the mother begins to produce only regular breast milk.
Extremely effective growth hormone and immune system boosters follow the flow of colostrums into the infant, and help develop the infant’s immunities and antibodies. This leads a great many to wonder whether human adults could benefit from the sale or distribution of colostrum – a possibility not lost on scientists and pharmaceutical companies.
How the Infant Benefits from Breast Milk and Colostrum
Infants are newborns with few functioning defenses to protect themselves against viral, bacterial, and other unseen, often deadly attacks on the immune system. All too appropriately, colostrum is the product of an evolutionary defense that mammalian mothers developed over centuries, even millennia. Thus, when an infant drinks its mother’s milk, it partakes from a life spring of nutrients and antibodies that will carry it into adulthood.
Less known is colostrum’s ability to serve as a natural laxative, making it easier for a newborn to digest foods and produce soft, easy stool. Containing bilirubin, a substance capable of creating the conditions required for jaundice, stool can be as newborn’s worst enemy. Breast milk weakens the bilirubin and ensures the infant’s ability to survive an opportunistic infection of the gastrointestinal system. Cool, huh?
What you may not also know is that colostrum aids in the development of an infant’s gastrointestinal system, enabling faster, easier digestion for the newborn. This makes it so much more essential for a newborn to breastfeed immediately – and raises interesting questions about the other benefits to colostrum, breastfeeding, and breast milk in general.
Breastfeeding over Formula
All these benefits make an argument for breastfeeding, which fell by the wayside with millions of new mothers as formula milk became available. While it provides an easy, fast-acting solution, formula milk shortchanges the infant by neglecting its need for those powerful nutrients and antibodies. This presses the need for breastfeeding on all newly expecting mothers, fathers, and parents.
Colostrum brays a message loud and clear: Why opt for something that will only harm or starve an infant rather than choose nature, with all her benefits?