WLOX - Nourishing your baby from day one is a very important part of making sure they grow up Happy, Healthy, and Ready to Learn. Moms pretty much have two options when it comes to feeding their newborns: formula or breast milk.
Although research has helped create formulas packed with valuable nutrients necessary for babies, many experts still agree - nothing beats breast milk.
"They've tried to replicate formula, but you just can't replicate something so natural," said Stacie Harris.
Harris is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport. Her job is helping moms through the breastfeeding process. Her first priority is telling all her patients about the many benefits of breast milk.
"When babies are born, their immune systems aren't that great, and they really need a boost. And so the breast milk does that," Harris explained. "It actually supports the immune system and keeps them from getting sick in their younger days," Harris added.
Besides vital natural nutrients, breast milk is also proven to help prevent certain cancers in babies and their moms. It also reduces the risk of obesity later in life.
"When babies breastfeed, they nurse and they get what they need," said Harris. "And when they're done, they can slow down the flow. Whereas if you're giving them something like supplementation of formula, you're guessing at what they need."
The benefits go on and on, especially if you stick with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. Mothers milk can also protect against allergies, ear infections and respiratory illnesses.
Harris added, "We're trying to build a healthier community. It's not even for your time spent in the hospital, but for over your entire lifetime for mom and baby."
Though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moms breastfeed exclusively for six months, it also recommends moms continue to breastfeed through the first year as you start to introduce foods to your baby.