Breastfeeding is one of nature’s best gifts to a mother and her baby. Most of us know how it helps nurture the baby, especially during the initial days after the baby is born. While most women successfully breastfeed their babies, not many would be aware of certain facts about breast milk. Here, we bring you certain relatively unknown facts about breast milk and breastfeeding which you might not be aware of.
1. Reduces Risk Of Cancer
For most new mothers, breastfeeding might mean providing a nutritious meal for their baby. However, what they probably don’t know is that it protects mothers from various illnesses in the process. According to the WHO website, it is believed that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, postpartum depression as well as type II diabetes (1).
2. Breast Milk Protects Infants From Minor Illnesses
Whether it is ear pain, stomach or digestive issues, or diarrhea, breast milk keeps all such sicknesses at bay. This is because breast milk contains enough antibodies to help your baby fight these illnesses (2).
3. Long-Term Benefits For Babies
Apart from the immediate benefits of breast milk, your baby will continue to reap its benefits for a much longer time. Kids who are breastfed are less likely to be obese in their adolescence and adulthood. They have better IQ and are also less likely to get type II diabetes (3).
4. Breast Milk Has Unique Smell
Have you ever wondered how come your baby always knows which side to turn when you are getting ready to feed? That’s because breast milk has a unique smell (4).
5. Helps The Baby Recognize You Visually
Newborn babies have an extremely near-sighted vision. They can only see things that are about 8 to 15 inches away. However, you’ll be surprised to know that this is exactly the distance to your face from the baby’s face when you breastfeed!! This means each time you breastfeed your baby, he/she will actually be able to see you better (5).
6. Breastfeeding Helps In Postpartum Recovery
Your uterus would have gone through a lot during pregnancy. However, breastfeeding helps the uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size sooner (6).
7. Breast Milk Changes In Consistency Naturally
In the first few days after childbirth, breast milk is thicker, sticky, and more yellow in color. It is called colostrum and contains potassium, proteins, calcium, minerals, and antibodies. With time it changes
consistency – from a watery bluish color to a more thicker, fattier milk – to suit your growing baby’s needs (7).
8. Breastfeeding Facilitates Postpartum Weight Loss
Breastfeeding also helps you in losing weight. When a woman breastfeeds, she loses as many as 600 calories per day!! (8)
9. Breast Milk Can Enhance The Baby’s Ability To Taste
Often times, formula milk has the same taste. However, due to the change in the consistency of the breast milk, your baby will be able to get exposure to different flavors. At times, the food you eat also tends to leave a faint taste in breast milk, which improves your baby’s ability to differentiate between the flavors (9).
10. Breast Milk Has Healing Properties
Breast milk is not called ‘yellow gold’ for no reason! It has an abundance of antibodies and is rich in minerals and nutrients that not only help nourish your baby but also helps in fighting infections and swellings. No wonder then that breast milk has been found to have healing properties too. So, if your breasts are sore or swollen, rubbing in some breast milk can prove to be beneficial in healing then (10).
11. Moms Who Are Unwell Can Still Breastfeed
Moms who are unwell often refrain from feeding their babies for the fear of transferring the sickness to the baby. However, did you know that such moms can continue feeding their babies? Yes, you’ve heard that right. By doing so, they help their babies develop their immunity. When a mom is ill, her body produces antibodies to fight the illness. So, when she feeds her baby, she not only keeps up with the food supply but also passes on the important antibodies to the baby as well. This equips the baby with antibodies to fight similar bacterial or viral infections later on (11).
We bet you didn’t know these many facts about breast milk and breastfeeding. But now that you do, we guess you have all the more reason to continue breastfeeding your baby!