I just finished my very first lactation consultant course, Breastmilk: Function and Composition. I was absolutely enthralled with all of the material I was learning and enjoyed sitting down at night to study. I am happy to report that I did very well (98%, 100% and 98% on the three tests!).
It is recommended that you have six base courses before starting the LC courses. I had most of them, but was missing out on the anatomy/physiology and medical terminology. I figured I would be just fine…. so I didn’t take the ones I was missing. OOPS. I think my brain was strained a little more than it needed to be, so before I continue on I am going to take the couple of courses that I am missing. At least it will save me having to be so dependent on Wikipedia for the next courses!
So about this course…. I always knew that breast milk was the best possible thing a mama could give her baby, and of course everyone has heard the phrase, “breast is best” I just never realized how dramatic an effect breast milk can have. And it’s not just while the baby is nursing; there are effects from being breastfed (or not) that can continue on into adulthood.
Here are a few of the points that had me most amazed:
- Breast milk contains hormones which continue to develop an infant’s digestive and respiratory systems AFTER birth! The extra cool thing about this is that mothers who give birth to premature infants will have MORE of these hormones in their milk!
- One of the proteins in breast milk (alpha-lactalbumin) takes a form that has demonstrated the ability to kill every tumour cell against which it has been tested. WOW. This may explain why children who are formula fed have higher incidences of cancer. It also may explain why breastfeeding women have lower rates of pre-menopausal breast cancer.
- I was amazed by the immunological properties of breast milk. When the mother is exposed to a virus or bacteria, her body makes antibodies against the “bug” and IMMEDIATELY sends it to the breast (and hence into the baby.) It is so awesome how fast it happens!
- On a related note, infants who have been introduced to formula before 6 months of age have a 6x higher rate of pneumonia. They will also have, on average, 3 more ear infections than their breastfed counterparts.
- Being fed breast milk is the most important preventative factor for MS. This really interests me because I have two aunts living with the disease. I am very curious to find out if they were breastfed or not.
- Children who are not breastfed are more likely to grow into overweight adults. I had heard this before but never understood the science behind it. Simply put, we have a hormone in our bodies called leptin. It’s job is to regulate food intake and metabolism. Infants who are formula fed have half the normal levels in their bodies! Again… WOW.
The more I read and learn about pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding, the more I come to understand that a woman’s body is really a miraculous thing! I’ve just got to write it one more time…. WOW! :)