Why this Registered Dietitian Recommends Breastfeeding for a #GoodGut


Dahlia Marin, RDN, LD- Plant-Based Breastfeeding Mother

This may not be one of our typical food posts, but one of our most important for the gut! It is world breastfeeding week & of all of the celebratory days we post about, one of the most important- sorry Avocado Day! Why are we so obsessed with talking about, educating on, & normalizing conversations around breastfeeding & breastmilk? Yup, that’s breastmilk in the pic!


Dahlia Marin, RDN, LD- Plant-Based Breast Milk


🤱 Colostrum (the amazing first extremely golden milk produced in the first few days of life) is high in special proteins which coat a newborn’s intestinal tract to protect from harmful bacteria from day 1.


🤱 Increase in protective immunoglobulins, which help fortify the immune system, reducing instances of colds, flus, & viruses in breastfed babies. A 2014 study found that formula-fed infants are 3 times more likely to suffer from ear infections than breastfed babies, & up to 5 times more likely to suffer from pneumonia & lower respiratory-tract infections. (Oftentimes due to unknown milk protein allergies early in life).

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🤱Gut protecting immunoglobulins, including IgA, IgG, and IgM, which can help prevent food intolerances, food allergies, histamine intolerance, celiac disease, & other gastrointestinal disease.


🤱Increase in acceptance of fruits & vegetables if mom is regularly including them in her diet as their palates are acclimating to the flavors of a variety of plant foods.


🤱Lower risk of SIDS- sudden infant death syndrome in newborns who require more constant feedings throughout the night.


🤱High nutrient density- providing nearly perfect amounts of fat, protein, sugar, & calories to babies, which can reduce their risk of obesity in life. ⚠️ breastfed babies should supplement with Vitamin D to avoid deficiency, low amounts are passed through milk & many moms are deficient themselves.


🤱Lower risk of many chronic diseases, including: Diabetes, Inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, childhood leukemia, eczema, & more.


🤱Weight reduction for some women due to the extra calories being burned. This was not our case as breastfeeding also greatly increases your appetite!


🤱 Possible positive mental health benefits in mom as breastfeeding promotes the secretion of the hormone oxytocin. It's sometimes known as the "cuddle hormone" or the "love hormone," because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially.


🤱Increased mommy-baby bonding.


🤱Possible higher IQ in breastfed babies.


🤱Convenience!! Hello free fast food that’s always the perfect temperature! 🤱It can be used to help with minor cuts, wounds, eye infections, etc. Breastmilk is the new coconut oil!

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Are we writing this to shame any women who were unable to breastfeed their children due to lack of support, health, medications taken, mental health? NEVER! We acknowledge that some women are unable to breastfeed due to lack of support, health, mental health, perception of inadequacy of their milk supply, fatigue, etc. We acknowledge that fed is always best & hope this post encourages women to do what they are able to for their babies, no matter what that looks like. We also hope it encourages women to strive to breastfeed because there truly is nothing in the world that can compare to breastmilk & all of its benefits.


We speak out about breastfeeding to empower more women to educate themselves & seek out resources to support them on the potentially difficult journey of lactation. We have shared that Leila was breastfed for 2.5 years, but don’t always include the struggles we worked through:


🤱Leila being born at 38 weeks gestation with both a tongue & lip tie, undiagnosed by the hospital’s lactation consultant (if you plan to breastfeed or support someone who plans to, please look up what ties are-we wish we had).


🤱Low milk supply in the first few days of her life due to early induction. This is a myth & the reason babies are born chubby- in case moms milk doesn’t come in for a few days- still latch often to stimulate milk production. Babies born to moms given IVs during labor will also lose water weight initially- do not be alarmed unless baby is jaundice or showing signs of failure to thrive.


🤱Pressure from hospital staff to supplement with formula telling us we were starving our baby on day 1. A nurse even came in the middle of the night, took Leila, & gave her a bottle of formula without permission. We found out about it after she projectile vomited it all over us as it was way too much for her extremely tiny tummy. 😡😡


🤱Pressure & constant comments from family members who did not breastfeed their children to supplement as they feared breastmilk was not enough as the volume is lower (due to greater nutrient density).


🤱Extremely painful nursing in the first month until Leila had her lip & tongue ties released via laser, requiring exclusive pumping for an entire month due to pain while latching.


🤱Taking our 1 month old to have her ties released then having to practice lip & tongue stretching exercises for several weeks following.


🤱working with 6 separate lactation consultants in the hospital, in our home, in their offices, & in breastfeeding classes offered by the hospital postpartum. Having 1 of those wonderful women tell us that most women would have given up at that point due to lack of support from partners & family & fear they are not enough for their babies😭.


🤱slightly lower milk supply due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which required extra pumping both early morning & late at night when Leila wasn’t nursing. .

🤱Returning to work full time when Leila was 6 months old & pumping (another part time job which continued until she was 1.5)


🤱Multiple clogged milk ducts & 1 episode of mastitis until we learned to supplement with sunflower lecithin to prevent clogs 🙌🏼.


🤱Family members over feeding breastmilk again, afraid the volume she required was not enough, requiring us to educate on a daily basis then literally hide milk from them to not waste that liquid gold.


🤱Pressure from family members to stop breastfeeding at 6/9/12/18/24 months because “she had enough” & “it was time to stop”.


🤱Societal taboos that breastfeeding, especially past 1 year is “gross, inappropriate, unnecessary, something to be done in private”


So no, my breastfeeding journey was not a completely zen experience during which milk flowed freely like an Italian fountain. IT.WAS.A.STRUGGLE from day 1 until about month 1.5 then got easier and more beautiful, with minor bumps in the road as we went along.


Would I ever go back and wish for a different experience?? NO!!! We are so grateful to have had the humbling experience we did with our breastfeeding journey to prepare & empower women to do their best to give their babes this life changing miracle juice. We are eternally grateful that I (Dahlia) was able to breastfeed for the time I did & even donate my milk to 2 babies in need. It’s no wonder it is called liquid gold! .


Were you able to breastfeed your babes if you have any? What were your biggest struggles? Talking openly about them brings needed change & education to those who may breastfeed in their future while giving our babies a more solid foundation for a healthy gut.


PS-🤱 seriously, how cool is it that there’s a breastfeeding emoji?!


If you are interested in working with an RDN, we would love to support you! You can schedule a personalized visit with us and we would love to collaborate with you on your journey! We see clients from all over the world. Follow us @MarriedtoHealth and join our newsletter so you never miss a #GoodGut thing!




Sources:


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827–e841. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-3552. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827


Martin, C. R., Ling, P. R., & Blackburn, G. L. (2016). Review of infant feeding: Key features of breast milk and Infant Formula. Nutrients, 8(5), 279. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8050279. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882692/


Li, R., Dee, D., Li, C. M., Hoffman, H. J., & Grummer-Strawn, L. M. (2014). Breastfeeding and risk of infections at 6 years. Pediatrics, 134 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S13–S20. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2014-0646D. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258846/


van den Elsen, L.W.J., Garssen, J., Burcelin, R. & Verhasselt, V. (2019). Shaping the gut microbiota by breastfeeding: The gateway to allergy prevention? Frontier Pediatrics, Feb 27;7:47. doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00047. PMID: 30873394; PMCID: PMC6400986. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30873394/


Mennella, J. & Reiter, A. & Daniels, L. (2016). Vegetable and fruit acceptance during infancy: Impact of ontogeny, genetics, and early experiences. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 7. 211S-219S. 10.3945/an.115.008649. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26773029/


Stuebe A. (2009). The risks of not breastfeeding for mothers and infants. Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology, 2(4), 222–231. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/


Kelsey, F., Shirin, M., Hind, S., Rozlyn, C.T., Boutin, L.B., Bianca, R. et. al. (2020). Breastmilk feeding practices are associated with the co-occurrence of bacteria in mothers’ milk and the infant gut: the CHILD Cohort Study. Cell Host & Microbe, Volume 28, Issue 2, 2020, 285-297.e4,

ISSN 1931-3128, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2020.06.009. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1931312820303504


Uvnäs, M.K. & Prime, D.K. Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding. Infant 2013; 9(6): 201-06. https://www.infantjournal.co.uk/pdf/inf_054_ers.pdf


Stuebe, A.M, Grewen, K. & Meltzer-Brody, S. Association between maternal mood and oxytocin response to breastfeeding. Journal of Women’s Health, 2013 Apr;22(4):352-61. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2012.3768. PMID: 23586800; PMCID: PMC3627433. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2012.3768


Britton, J.R., Britton, H.L. & Gronwaldt, V. (2006). Breastfeeding, sensitivity, and attachment. Pediatrics, Nov;118(5):e1436-43. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-2916. PMID: 17079544. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/5/e1436


Isaacs, E. B., Fischl, B. R., Quinn, B. T., Chong, W. K., Gadian, D. G., & Lucas, A. (2010). Impact of breast milk on intelligence quotient, brain size, and white matter development. Pediatric research, 67(4), 357–362. https://doi.org/10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181d026da. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2939272/


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