Value of Breastfeeding for New Babies
My name is Emily Abele. I grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and went to undergraduate at Augustana College, majored in biology. I took a year off to do a medical mission in West Africa and then went to University of South Dakota for medical school. And following that went down to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for residency in obstetrics and gynecology.
Why is breastmilk important?
Breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for baby, it is specially formulated by the mother to be able to meet the needs of baby at different points. The other really important part about breastfeeding is that it does pass on immunity to baby while baby is inside the uterus then you get antibodies that get transferred from mom to baby. And then once baby is outside the womb and breastfeeding the mother is able to pass along some immunity to specific things that they have come in contact with recently and helps protect baby.
For example, we have the influenza vaccine that helps protect mothers during pregnancy from the complications of influenza but it also transfers over to the breast milk and helps protect baby once baby is born. The other thing that we always recommend during pregnancy is the Tdap vaccine. That doesn't necessarily do as much during pregnancy other than build up the immunity so that once baby is born, then it helps protect baby, forms a cocoon around baby to protect against whooping cough.
How does breastmilk benefit babies?
There's a lot of different benefits for babies. It helps them metabolize the proteins and fats and carbohydrates that are in the milk itself better. Helps their stomachs empty better, helps them grow at a better pace. It also benefits them in the long run, helping them not have as a high rate of obesity, diabetes, allergies, lots of different things that are really beneficial for babies. And it also helps create that mother-baby bond that is so important, especially in those first few months and helps make it so they're in a safe environment.
What advantages does breastmilk provide over formula?
Babies who are breastfed have better abilities to metabolize the food that they're getting and as a result, do better in how they grow and develop. Breastfed babies have a lower rate of allergies, have a lower rate of diabetes, obesity in the future. Also have a lower incidence of ear infections and SIDS. So those are all really important for these kiddos.
Is limited breastfeeding still benefitial?
Every amount of breastfeeding is beneficial for baby and mom. The longer you can breastfeed, the more of a benefit that it provides. But I've always told moms that are really gonna struggle with being able to actually pump or maintain that breastfeeding relationship, that if you can do it in the delivery room that is better than nothing. If you can do it during her hospital stay and then have to stop after that, that's better than nothing. And doing it for a month is better than none and so the importance of starting it is the biggest thing and however long you can maintain it is really important. And we, as providers, and as a community that really supports breastfeeding, especially in the hospital, we really want that to be something that you can attain and want to support you through that.
How long should babies be breastfed?
Most people have a goal of six months to a year, but it is very normal to have a goal of longer, keeping that relationship and that bond going as babies get older.
How can fathers support breastfeeding moms and babies?
Fathers can definitely be a part of the whole breastfeeding journey. As the mother is learning to breastfeed, being there and being supportive of the whole process is really important. And they can also be a part of the bonding experience too by participating in skin-to-skin. Though they can't breastfeed themselves the skin-to-skin contact with baby is really enforcing for the father-baby relationship and strengthening that bond. Also, if mom is able to pump some milk and give baby a bottle, dad can do that as well and have that bond in a slightly different way but still there. And it's really important to form that bond between baby and dad as well.
Why would you recommend delivery at Brookings Health System?
I think it's really important to have a good community around you and being able to have a good support for breastfeeding is essential. So having those resources here is really great for patients and for their babies. It's also a very nice new facility, state of the art, great atmosphere for moms to deliver and recover from delivery in. One of the other really nice things about delivering in Brookings is that we do have a doula program that supports mothers through labor, which is one of the really important parts of being able to have a successful delivery is having good support around you. The nurses and support people can be with you and be great supports as well. But doulas are specifically there to provide that support and it definitely helps benefit mothers as they go through the labor process. And when you have good labor support that does increase your incidence of being able to have a vaginal delivery.