Ask the Experts: Breastfeeding and breathing benefits for your baby

Clearing the air for your newborn: Breastfeeding can help


In a perfect world, breastfeeding would be easy and come naturally to everyone, and all newborns would be exclusively breastfed for the first year of life. This is, of course, not a perfect world, and the debate on breastfeeding has become political, medical, and, even worse, personal. The benefits of breastfeeding are innumerous, but advocates can get a bit carried away with making the non-breastfeeding mom feel anything but perfect. I cringe when I see moms reluctant to tell me that they are bottle-feeding their baby. This is fine! It’s more than fine! You are lovingly nourishing and bonding with your baby, no matter how they are being fed. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That said, I truly feel that breastfeeding is worth giving a try, and I encourage parents to stick with it just a bit longer before they decide to throw in the … well, burp cloth.

One of the potentially unrecognized benefits of breastfeeding is how it can benefit your baby’s breathing. There are a few possible explanations for this: One has to do with the increased level of something called ‘immunoglobulins’ contained in breast milk. These chemicals are sparse in babies, are an important component of the immune system, and help prevent and fight illnesses. These extra immunoglobulins from mom help your baby fight off infections, even before the baby’s received their first immunizations.

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