Ever wondered what’s so special about breastfeeding and breastmilk? Come and read these ten interesting breastfeeding facts to find out. Do you know…..
1. Breastmilk has a dynamic composition
Breastmilk is a marvel of nature; its composition is dynamic and changes according to your baby’s needs. As a mother of two, I can attest to the fact that no formula milk on the market can compete with the versatility and adaptability of breastmilk. In the height of summer, I’ve noticed my milk becoming more watery, quenching my baby’s thirst more efficiently. In contrast, during the colder months, it seems to thicken, providing extra fat content to keep my little ones warm and well-nourished.
When my babies were unwell, my body intuitively produced milk rich in antibodies to help them fight off their sickness. It’s a testament to the wonders of the human body and makes me feel like a powerful provider for my children. If direct breastfeeding isn’t always possible, remember it’s not a failure. Do what you can, and know that any amount of breastmilk you can give your baby is beneficial.
2. Breastfeeding burns calories!
Breastfeeding isn’t just beneficial for your baby – it offers plenty of benefits for mothers as well. For instance, it can be a great way to burn calories and shed some of the weight gained during pregnancy. Scientists found that breastfeeding burns approximately 500 – 700 calories per day. That’s equivalent to a 45 minute workout session on a treadmill if you’re running on average 10 kilometres per hour. I found that breastfeeding helped me return to my pre-pregnancy weight, and it was a more enjoyable way to lose weight than hitting the gym!
Moreover, consistent breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer, a benefit that cannot be overlooked. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of cancer in two ways. Firstly, the hormonal changes during breastfeeding helps to lower the exposure to estrogen. Exposure to estrogen is linked to an increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Secondly, breastfeeding helps to shed breast tissue. This means breast cells with potential DNA damage are being removed via breastfeeding. This helps to reduce the risk of cancer cell growth.
3. Your breastmilk has a unique scent
One of the most endearing facts about breastfeeding is that babies can recognize their mother’s specific milk scent. It’s a unique aroma that forms part of the powerful bond between mother and child. I’ve noticed my babies calming as they nestle in for a feed, recognizing that familiar scent.
4. Your breastmilk is not always white in color
As the milk changes over time, so does the color. In the first few days after birth, your milk is a golden color – this is the highly nutritious colostrum. Eventually, it transitions into mature milk, but the color can still fluctuate based on your diet and your baby’s needs.
Sometimes, if you express your milk when you are having cracked nipple you will end up with a pinkish milk also known as strawberry milk. Don’t be alarmed, it’s just some blood mixed into your milk. It is not harmful to your baby.
5. Breastfeeding helps both you and your baby to feel good
Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin, in both the baby and the mother. This hormone helps to prevent postnatal depression in mothers and calms the baby, promoting bonding. This feeling of closeness and attachment I’ve experienced while breastfeeding is unparalleled, and it’s incredible to think that it’s underpinned by this hormonal exchange.
In addition to the nutritional and bonding benefits, breastfeeding can act as a natural pacifier, helping to calm and soothe fussy babies. This is a two-way street; as a mother, I’ve found that these quiet moments of connection can reduce stress and create an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility. During these times, it’s as though the world outside pauses and all that exists is the beautiful bond between you and your child.
6. Breastmilk are multi-purpose
Breastmilk’s uses extend beyond feeding. It possesses anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it incredibly useful for treating skin rashes in babies or soothing cracked nipples in mothers. Whenever I’ve experienced sore or cracked nipples, I’ve found that applying a little breastmilk can offer a surprising amount of relief.
One of the most fascinating aspects of breastfeeding is the unique connection between mother and baby. For example, your breasts can respond to your baby’s cries by releasing milk. It’s as if there’s a direct line of communication from your baby’s needs to your body’s response. Some mothers even said that they felt tingling in their breast whenever their baby wanted to nurse. Isn’t breastfeeding amazing?
7. Left boob or right boob?
It’s not uncommon for babies to develop a preference for either the left or right breast. My children certainly did, and it led to a funny side effect – my breasts would sometimes be different sizes! However, this is simply due to the law of supply and demand; your body will adjust milk production based on your baby’s feeding habits. It may look funny, but it isn’t harmful to you or your baby.
8. Your baby can taste what you ate in the breast milk
Lastly, the flavours in your diet can translate into your breastmilk, providing an early exposure to a variety of tastes for your baby. This is why maintaining a well-balanced diet is so important during breastfeeding. It ensures your baby is getting nutritious milk, but it also helps to introduce them to a world of different tastes right from the start.
Do be aware that some food may cause your baby to have gas or colic. Every baby is different so you can only know for your own baby with trial and error. Eating new food items with moderation is the key here. This way, even if there’s an adverse effect on your baby it would not be too bad.
9. Breast milk may help in family planning
Interestingly, breastfeeding can also act as a natural form of contraception in the first six months postpartum. Known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), this relies on exclusive breastfeeding on demand (both day and night), with no other food or drink supplements for your baby. It’s not 100% foolproof, but it can delay the return of fertility in some women.
10. Breastfeeding is simple, it’s just not easy
Breastfeeding isn’t just about providing nutrition; it’s a dynamic, responsive process that evolves with your baby’s growth and development. From the early days of colostrum to the mature milk that varies based on your baby’s needs, breastfeeding is a unique journey for every mother and baby. It’s not always easy, and there can be challenges along the way, but the benefits it provides are significant. If you need some guidance on breastfeeding, click here to read on some breastfeeding tips from a lactation counselor.
Breastfeeding is also incredibly economical. The cost of formula can add up quickly, not to mention the extra bottles, nipples, and sterilization equipment you’ll need. Breastmilk, on the other hand, is always available, always the right temperature, and doesn’t require any additional equipment. This can be especially useful in the middle of the night when your baby needs a feed, and you’re too tired to prepare a bottle.
I breastfed for 48 months and still counting, read all about my journey here!
Finally, breastfeeding is an empowering experience that celebrates the strength and resilience of a woman’s body. It’s a gentle reminder of the incredible journey of motherhood, from nurturing life within you to nourishing your baby after birth. The fact that your body can produce the perfect food for your baby is truly amazing. It’s a testament to the inherent wisdom and power of a woman’s body.
In conclusion, breastfeeding is more than just a way to feed your baby. It’s a profound, dynamic experience that fosters an intimate bond between mother and child, contributes to your baby’s health and development, and offers a host of benefits for the mother. As a mother of two, I can affirm that breastfeeding, despite its challenges, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Maybe that’s why I’ve been doing that for the past 48 months, and still going strong.