Healthy Babies and the Art of Breastfeeding

Welcoming new life into the world can be a slightly overwhelming process. From the moment a pregnancy is discovered, preparation for the new baby begins. There are so many decisions new parents must make long before agreeing on a name or the color of the nursery. Whether to breastfeed or utilize formula is one of the biggest choices. While this decision is normally made early on, whichever option you choose can surely have long lasting effects. Once pregnant, a woman’s body automatically prepares itself to produce milk. One of the first signs is when the bumps around the areola (called glands) grow larger. These glands provide oils to lubricate the nipple, therefore preventing drying and possible infections. Also, the body is releasing a larger amount of estrogen. In turn, the fatty (glandular) tissues inside the breast will grow. On average, each breast can grow up to 2 ½ pounds heavier. Along with more tissue, the milk ducts also grow larger during pregnancy. According to, “you'll begin full-scale milk production within 48 to 96 hours of delivering your baby. Second-time moms will find their milk surge comes earlier than it did the first time around.” A common misperception is that moms will produce breast milk in time for baby’s first feeding. However, this is not exactly true. “During the early days of breastfeeding, your baby will enjoy a creamy, high-protein, low-fat substance called colostrum. You may have leaked a few drops of this thick, yellowish substance during the final weeks of your pregnancy.” ( Actual milk does not arrive until it is released by the alveoli. This can sometimes take a few days. No worries, colostrum is still a valuable source of nutrients for your new baby. BENEFITS FOR MOMMY AND BABY (List from 1. A healthier baby “The incidences of pneumonia, colds, and viruses are reduced among breastfed babies,” says infant-nutrition expert Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and OB-GYN at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y., and the author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession (Elsevier-Mosby). Gastrointestinal infections like diarrhea—which can be devastating, especially in developing countries—are also less common. 2. Long-term protection Breastfeed your baby and you reduce his risk of developing chronic conditions such as type I diabetes, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease. 3. Stronger bones According to Lawrence, women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. “When a woman is pregnant and lactating, her body absorbs calcium much more efficiently,” she explains. “So while some bones, particularly those in the spine and hips, may be a bit less dense at weaning, six months later, they are more dense than before pregnancy.” 4. Lower SIDS risk Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome by about half. 5. Fewer problems with weight It’s more likely that neither of you will become obese if you breastfeed baby. 6. A calorie incinerator You may have heard that nursing burns up to 500 calories a day. And that’s almost right. “Breast milk contains 20 calories per ounce,” Lawrence explains. “If you feed your baby 20 ounces a day, that’s 400 calories you’ve swept out of your body.” 7. It’s good for the earth Dairy cows, which are raised in part to make infant formula, are a significant contributor to global warming: Their belching, manure, and flatulence (really!) spew enormous amounts of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. 8. Better healing postdelivery The oxytocin released when your baby nurses helps your uterus contract, reducing postdelivery blood loss. Plus, breastfeeding will help your uterus return to its normal size more quickly—at about six weeks postpartum, compared with 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed. 9. Less risk of cancer Breastfeeding can decrease your baby’s risk of some childhood cancers. You’ll also have a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer, an often deadly disease that’s on the rise. Nursing your new baby has many positive effects but is ultimately a decision that mommy and baby must be comfortable with. AlphaCord supports whatever is best for the baby's health. THE CONTENT OF THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If you have a medical emergency or question, immediately call your doctor or dial 911 for assistance.