Newborns, being new, need time for their immune system to mature. Meanwhile, mother’s milk provides babies with the immunities they need. This is how it works.
As adults, we’ve developed immunities through exposure and experience. It’s the body’s learning process. Lymphocytes, T cells, different proteins act to protect the body. These circulate in the blood, mucous and breast milk. A healthy gut helps keep ‘bad stuff’ from getting into our system and spreading.
• The adult gut has more defenses. That image above to the right is a cartoon of the adult gut. Bacteria, etc. (the yellow squiggles) can’t easily pass through the gut lining. Immune factors (the green and blue) are ready to digest, flush and otherwise deter bad ‘stuff’ from thriving.
In comparison, newborns gut membrane is more porous. It’s easier for bacteria (the yellow squiggles) to cross and get into the system. And newborns haven’t developed the immune factors to fight off viruses and bacteria.
A newborn gut with human breast milk (see below) has more protection. When a baby is breast fed, the immune factors from the mother’s milk (green and blue) pass into the baby’s gut. Those protect against pathogens (yellow) until the baby develops it’s own immunities several months later. That’s why the first six months make a difference.
These are two ways breast milk protects your baby, whether preterm, sick or full term. As a bonus, whenever your baby has a growth spurt, your breast milk changes to give him/her a boost of immune factors. That’s why extended nursing, one year or more, is beneficial.
This is a short story of an intricate system. It is invisible though fundamental work you’re doing and it does take time. Let’s make this comfortable habit for you.