We hear it all the time at the Doctor, on the news, and from other moms that Breast is Best. Granted, Breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone. Even after 5 children breastfeeding (next to childbirth) was one of the hardest things I have ever done. There have been times when it has been such a struggle I wonder why I’m even doing it. Even now that I’m trying to loose weight and actually fall into that percentage of women that hold on to their pounds like a baby to their pacifier, the importance of that amazing liquid gold doesn’t escape me. So below are some amazing facts about breast milk you probably didn’t know. Some you may have known already and some that might be a complete surprise. Either way if you’re on the fence about breast feeding I hope this helps sway your cause.
Did you know your can smell you? Newborns have a strong sense of smell and know the unique scent of your breast milk. That is why your baby will turn his or her head to you when he or she is hungry. At birth a newborn is drawn to the smell of breast milk (Importance of skin to skin contact) and amazingly by 2 weeks, a baby can tell the difference between the scent of his mother’s breast milk and another mom’s milk. That’s right mama! Don’t try to pull a fast one on them 🙂
Going through Changes. Your breast milk changes during a feeding session. When your baby first starts to nurse, your milk is a watery & bluish in color. Toward the end of the feeding session, your baby gets to thicker, fattier milk, which gives your baby the calories needed to grow healthy and strong. So make sure not to switch around when feeding your baby so they can get everything they need out of each breast.
Magical Fix it all! When my #2 got a major clogged duct in her eye, my pediatrician said to start massaging it with breast milk. When my #3 got bad eczema she also told me to put breast milk on it and sure enough it cleared up. Even when I got bad cracked nipples while feeding them all I was told by my lactation specialist to put breast milk around them. Breast milk heals. Breast milk is filled with special components that are designed to help fight infection and cut down on swelling in the breast. So, if your breasts are sore those first few days, gently massaging some of your milk into your nipples and breasts can soothe the soreness and speed up recovery.
Natural Immunity. Breast milk also contains antibodies, or immune molecules, that provide the baby with natural immunity to illnesses that the mother is immune to. This is why breastfed babies tend to have far fewer colds than formula fed babies. The protection is so strong that there have been studies that show that prolonged breast feeding helps protect babies from such things as acute and prolonged diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, otitis media, urinary tract infection, neonatal septicemia, and NEC. This study also found evidence for an enhanced protection remaining for years after you are done breastfeeding that helps protect them against certain diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, Ear infections and , HIB & Asthma. What’s even more amazing is that when a newborn is exposed to a germ he/she will transfer it back to their mother while nursing and she will then give them immunity from it. So your kisses aren’t just loving to them they are life saving.
Super Hero Breast Milk We hear about it all the time in the news, how a certain Antibiotic resistant bacteria has taken over a person and there’s nothing they can do. A recent study found that a protein In Breast Milk Could Fight Antiobiotic Resistant Bacteria. So yes, breast milk is even that more amazing, ready to help even those that aren’t breastfeeding.
Back to Basics. Breastfeeding allows your body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth more quickly. The hormones released when you breastfeed make your uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size. That being said your weight loss may not be what it should because your body will of course want to hold on to that extra fat to help your little one always stay fed. However, your body will return quick to what it’s supposed to be doing.
Future’s looking bright!
Breastfeeding isn’t just great for your baby now it can actually reduce baby’s risk of disease later in life, including:
Type I and II diabetes
High blood pressure
High cholesterol levels
Life Saving for Mama too! Breastfeeding reduces mama’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The longer she breastfeeds, the higher the benefit. In fact, a woman who breastfeeds for 8 years has nearly a 0% risk of breast cancer. Get this—breastfeeding a baby girl actually reduces her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%.
Right is more! Almost three-quarters of moms produce more milk with their right breast. The funny part is that it doesn’t matter if you’re right or lefty!
Sleep dust. Although it may not feel like it because one doesn’t really sleep with babies, but believe it or not breast milk contain melatonin, which helps your little one get some shut-eye. According to one study, breastfeeding parents got 40-45 minutes more sleep per night on average during the first 3 months postpartum.
Flavor of the day. Your breast milk can taste different according to what you eat. This is a great way for nature to help prepare your baby to get used to the taste of solid foods. So that’s why many times certain foods may also cause your baby to get fussy.
No Extra needed. Breast milk is made up of about 87% water. That’s why they don’t need extra water.
Brain Food: Not only is it full of DHA that’s important for eyes and brain function but the amount of cholesterol in breast milk increases as the baby gets older. Cholesterol plays an important role in nerve conduction in the brain.
Out in no time! The time it takes for half of the milk to leave the stomach of a breastfed baby: 48 minutes. The time it takes for half of the milk to leave the stomach of a formula fed baby: 78 minutes. That means it’s digested faster giving your little ones tummy a break.
Happy Baby, Happy Mommy! Oxytocin, the chemical involved in bonding that makes you feel happy is released when you breastfeed. The funny part is that it also affects your everyday because small things like seeing your baby’s picture or hearing the baby cry could trigger your milk to let down, contractions or shrinking in the uterus, and all of that comes back to the release of oxytocin and the bond between you and your baby
Feed your Adopted baby! Did you know that it’s also possible to breastfeed an adopted baby with the right lactation specialist and breastfeeding support. Yes! Just because you didn’t give birth physically doesn’t mean breastfeeding bonding can’t happen.
It’s not the Size of the breast
Size doesn’t matter Small breasts produce just as much milk as large ones or sometimes even more. There is no correlation between breast size and the amount of milk you make.
Always Perfect, Every time! No one knows your baby better than you do! That even happens with the milk you produce. Your body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby. Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows and the milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old. Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration. Isn’t that amazing!?
In the end Breastfeeding can be incredibly hard to do. However, I hope that this post helps those on the fence on the importance of breast feeding. I know for many breastfeeding can be impossible and many things can prohibit them from doing it. There are many ways you can supplement your baby and there are amazing organizations that provide breast milk for those that can’t produce it themselves. However, as with anything breastfeeding is something incredibly personal and in the end the journey and decision is between you and your baby and no one else.