You are what you eat…and so is your baby

Posted on by Patti Carroll, RN, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Registered Lactation Consultant

Asian baby drinking breastmilk

“As a mother of a baby born in 1973 when nobody was breastfeeding, I didn’t know why, but I instinctively knew breastfeeding was the best thing to do.” After my first son was born, I went back to school to become a nurse. During my interview I said, “I’m not interested in sick people, but I want to work with new moms and babies.” So, I worked in labor and delivery for 10 years. During my time on the labor and delivery floor I dedicated all of my free time to helping new mothers initiate breastfeeding. I realized this was my true passion, so I became a certified lactation consultant and have been helping mothers and babies ever since.

Today, I want to share four things you might not know about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is good for your baby (and you!)Do what’s best for mom and baby

  • Breastmilk has cells, hormones, and antibodies that help protect your baby from illnesses. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have asthma, ear infections, diarrhea and vomiting, and lower respiratory infections.
  • Breastfeeding can help your baby feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Physical contact also increases a mother’s oxytocin levels, which can help breastmilk flow.
  • Breastfeeding helps a mother heal after childbirth. It also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding is adaptable

  • Your baby’s saliva transfers chemicals to a mother’s body that causes breastmilk to adjust to meet the changing needs of your baby as they grow.
  • The first milk that a mother’s body makes during pregnancy and just after birth is called colostrum. It is a deep yellow color and is very rich in nutrients that helps your newborn baby’s digestive system grow and function.
  • Mature breastmilk has the right combination of fat, sugar, water, and protein so your baby continues to grow.

Breastfeeding can save your baby’s life during a natural disaster

  • Breastfeeding can protect your baby from illnesses caused by dirty water, including diarrhea. It can also help prevent respiratory illnesses.
  • When you breastfeed your baby will always have milk available without have access to additional supplies.
  • Breastmilk is always at the right temperature and can help keep your baby’s body temperature from dropping too low.

Breastfeeding benefits societyWorld Breastfeeding Logo

  • Babies who are breastfed usually go to the doctor for sick visits less often, need to take fewer prescription medications, and are less likely to go to the hospital.
  • Mothers who breastfeed miss less work to take care of their sick babies, compared to moms who feed their baby formula.
  • Milk is a renewable resource that does not create trash and plastic waste from things like formula cans and bottle supplies.

Learn more

August 1 – 7 is the 25th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week. This year the campaign is focused on “sustaining breastfeeding – together” and the important role of support at all levels for successful breastfeeding.

Posted on by Patti Carroll, RN, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Registered Lactation ConsultantTags , , , , , , , , ,

15 comments on “You are what you eat…and so is your baby”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    So thankful for Patti and the whole supportive team at CDC’s Lactation Support program! Becoming a new parent is hard enough and how wonderful to have a wonderful and supportive workplace to come back to after maternity leave.

    Great story Patti. I love the green box. As a Nurse, I am aware of the importance of family support when dealing with any health related issue. The green box highlights this and I hope sends the message to the well-meaning family and social support of new Moms.
    I was born in 1970 and was breast fed, probably because we were living in Europe and in the military. Mom said that she remembers her older sister asking her why she was breast feeding and using cloth diapers. Mom replied, “because we are poor”. My aunt was state side, bottle feeding and disposable diapers were the thing to do. I’m glad that we were poor and over-seas.

    As a nurse I have to agree with this post that breastfeeding is great for mom and baby. Also that you are what you eat and what you eat, your breastfeeding baby can taste in your milk. According to Mayo Clinic (2017), breastfeeding mothers should eat foods rich in protein and calcium, such as lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain foods, peas, dark leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit. Eggs are a good source of protein. Taking a vitamin B-12 supplement is also recommended for the baby’s brain development. Foods that should be avoided according to Mayo Clinic are alcohol. I know that some physician’s will say that a glass of wine here and there are ok to drink during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, however, there is no level of alcohol in breast milk that is safe for babies. Caffeine should be avoided; however, studies show that 2 to 3 cups a day may be ok, but it could cause agitation in the baby or interfere with baby’s sleep.
    I also breastfed, 2 of my children. The only reason that all 3 were not breastfed was because my oldest would not latch on. I enjoyed breastfeeding and bonding with my children. That bond will never be broken because of that breastfeeding connection. Those benefits regarding health are very true. My children were rarely sick. I can remember both of them only getting one ear infection. I switched my son to formula when he was 4 months old and he broke out in a rash from head to toe literally, and was very irritated. When I took him to the doctor to find out why he had broken out, I was told that it was an allergic reaction from the formula, for that reason I strictly breastfed my last child for 2 years. My son now has eczema, which was probably caused by the formula, and has yet to grow out of it 9 years later. So as a mother who breastfed as well as used formula, and as a nurse, I would definitely suggest breastfeeding your child.

    Its great to get some knowledgeable advice about best breastfeeding practice, as with political correctness and everything else these days, people are so scared of exposing their breasts.



    Breastfeeding have lots of benefits and pro’s to both the mother and daughter.

    As an RN, this blog was informative, inspirational and educational. I agree that breastfeeding is best for mom and baby. It is the naturalist way to recover after delivery and give your baby antibodies to boost immunity. The information in the green box holds so much truth. There are challenges and barriers that create apprehension in mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies. In the green box it states that 22% of babies in the United States are exclusively breastfed after 6 months. Honestly, I remember with my oldest son trying to breastfeed him but feeling so much anxiety because he would not latch on. His provider told me during a well child check up that it was ok to only breastfeed him for 6 months. If only I knew what I know now I would have educated myself more and breastfeed him longer.

    There remains a stigma with breastfeeding even though science has proven it to be beneficial to mom and baby. In this present day and age, it is still frowned upon to publicly breast. So public awareness and education could assist in decreasing the stares and whispers mothers experience in public. Support and guidance for mothers continues to be pivotal in successful breastfeeding. So much the information in this blog could encourage a mother to breastfeed. Below are 7 tips from the Mayo Clinic that could be of assistance in breastfeeding:
    1. Relax
    2. Pump often
    3. When you’re with your baby, breast-feed on demand
    4. Avoid or limit formula feedings
    5. Drink plenty of fluids
    6. Don’t smoke
    7. Take good care of yourself

    Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful and informative blog to read. Breastfeeding is so wonderful for both mum and baby. Glad I found this, very useful.

    Thanks for sharing these benefits. Indeed, breastfeeding facilitates bonding between the mum and baby. A knowledge giving article and I will definitely going to save them for future reference. Thanks you!

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Page last reviewed: August 11, 2017
Page last updated: August 11, 2017