Within an hour of her birth, Rylee Garcia enjoyed her first meal, courtesy of mom.
“I said ‘let’s go ahead and do this’ and the nurses helped me put her right to the breast and there were no problems whatsoever,” says Amanda Garcia.
Studies find the hormones and antibodies found in breast milk protect babies from illness.
“Definitely, breast- feeding has known benefits for mom and baby. We know it helps protect against infections. It may even help with brain development and IQ. We know that breast-fed babies are less likely to be obese or overweight later in life,” says Dr. Christy Cavanagh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
Formula fed infants experience more ear infections and diarrhea. Later in life they may be more prone to asthma, obesity and type 2- diabetes. Some women would like to give the breast a try, but aren’t sure how to begin.
“The best thing you can do to stimulate milk production is to get the baby skin-to-skin with mom immediately after birth. The baby is most awake and alert during that first hour and will usually latch on without any assistance. And that will stimulate colostrums to come down and stimulate milk production,” says Dr. Cavanagh.
Trends show more women are going all natural. Breastfeeding has increased by a few percentage points each year. The biggest jump is among people who report feeding with breast milk exclusively in the first three to six months. Experts say any amount of time bears fruit.
“During the first few days of life, mom makes colostrums, not full milk like you expect. Colostrums is kind of yellowish instead of the flowy white liquid that you think of with milk, but it’s chalk full of calories and nutrition so you don’t need as much volume to satisfy the baby,” says Dr. Cavanagh.
A few days after birth, the milk matures and has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein to help baby grow. Mom benefits too. Breastfeeding is linked to lower rates or breast and ovarian cancer. It also strengthens the bonding process.
“It makes you feel like no one else is in the room. Everything zones into the child and you can start breast- feeding you get that touch, that warmth,” says Garcia.
Some moms and babies may have health restrictions or conditions that hinder breastfeeding. But for most, it’s only natural.