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The ABC's of Breastfeeding: A is for AMAZING ANTIBODIES

 

How does our body create the perfect immunity for our babies?

One of the most fascinating aspects of breastfeeding is the way our bodies are perfectly designed to provide everything our baby needs, including “made to order” immunities, right from the start!

Because your newborn doesn’t have a fully mature immune system, the active immunities found in breastmilk offer a great advantage. Breastmilk contains live enzymes, proteins, growth factors, hormones, antibacterial and antiviral factors, as well as antiallergenic factors. These act in a variety of ways to protect your little one. Some work to block microbes from crossing through the epithelium which lines the digestive tract. Others bind to minerals and vitamins that, if available in too high a quantity, can feed harmful bacteria. Some prepare a direct and specialized attack on particular microbes, while some help to strengthen your baby’s own individual immune system for further battle!

breastfeeding mother with baby

One of the most impressive aspects of this is our ability to make SPECIFIC antibodies related to the environment we are in. When you come in contact with a disease-causing organism, your body immediately begins to form antibodies for this particular organism. Also, t his highly-specific process produces only the antibodies needed to protect against “bad” bacteria, while at the same time, protecting the “good” bacteria in your baby’s gut. It is still unclear to researchers exactly how a mother’s immune system knows to do this.

Did you know that when you breastfeed your baby in his or her daycare center, for instance, your body

will “sense” the specific pathogens in that environment?


As your body is exposed to the environment, antibodies specific to the pathogens in your surroundings are synthesized.Your mammary glands receive this information and then pass the appropriate antibodies back to baby via the breastmilk during subsequent feedings!

So when you drop off and pick up your sweet nursling at the daycare center, be sure to hang out for a few minutes and breastfeed your baby before leaving. Soon your baby will have “custom- built” immunities, tailor-made for their environment! :)

Tina Shroeder IBCLC   Tina Schroeder, IBCLC specializes in lactation and feeding issues, supporting families throughout the greater Treasure Valley
  and beyond through Treasure Valley Midwives Lactation clinic. As an IBCLC, she is passionate about empowering parents to      
  nurture their children in whatever way work best for them, and is honored to be able to foster a growing confidence for parents
  in the newborn stage, with all of its joys and challenges.

 

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