Researchers have discovered that maternal immune cells transport probiotics from mom’s gut microbiome to her mammary glands and into her breast milk, via the enteromammary pathway. This means that your healthy microbiome can be transferred directly to your baby through breastfeeding—now that’s some motivation to take care of your gut! Make sure to take a high-quality, effective probiotic supplement designed for lactating moms, and do everything you can to support your ecosystem of bacteria within, like limiting exposure to antibiotics and antibacterial cleaners and eating a whole-foods diet rich in prebiotics.
Over the last century, breastfeeding practices have changed remarkably—from a standard nine months of exclusive breastfeeding in the early 1900s to serious declines in breastfeeding rates with the advent of formula in the 1920s. Fortunately, breastfeeding rates are on the rise again as doctors, researchers, employers, and health organizations all over the world recognize the absolutely essential role that breast milk plays in lifelong well-being and immunity for moms and babies. Because when it comes to your child’s long-term wellness, immunity is everything.
Today, I’m happy to report that my little one is a healthy and thriving toddler, and I believe breast milk is the common thread in what’s kept him so healthy despite his odds of having a subpar immune system due to his early arrival. Though the process for us was grueling and included many tears, sleepless nights, lactation consultants, and near defeats, I thank my lucky stars that I had this knowledge to fuel my determination because it has forever changed the course of my son’s life.
So, whether you’re a breastfeeding pro or are getting ready to welcome your newest love, know that by choosing to breastfeed, you’re not only empowering and educating other mothers who may not know the benefits of breastfeeding, but you are giving your baby the perfect "elixir of life" with the ideal ingredients their immune system needs for a lifetime of health.
Here are 10 things to know about breastfeeding before you become a mom, and also, some weird things no one tells you about it.