By Morgan Annandale
Fact one: Breastfeeding is hard. There are the sleepless nights, continuous pumping at odd hours, leaking nipples at inappropriate times, the tough transition to a bottle…the list goes on. However, there are times when you sit back and realise you, alone, are sustaining a human life. That is amazing and that along with all the health benefits you are providing for your little one, truly makes breastfeeding mums real super heroes. So, to learn a little more about breastfeeding I wanted to list out some of the most interesting facts I learned about breastfeeding as a mum. Some of these really blew my mind and reminded me how incredible the human body is!
Breast milk changes for your baby’s needs
According to medical journals, when you breastfeed some of your baby’s saliva is released into your nipple and your body is actually able to react to your baby’s specific needs. For example, look at the photos below that went viral in 2017. They are from a woman who compared her pumped breast milk before and after her baby developed a cold. The difference in appearance is incredible and shows that the mother’s body knew her baby needed more antibodies to fight the sickness, creating the difference in color.
Additionally, breast milk is constantly changing to be appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. Breast milk made for a one-year-old will be very different from the breast milk made for a newborn. Pretty cool to think that your body knows when to adjust its breast milk composition to fit your baby’s needs!
*Source: Facebook/Mallory Smothers
Health benefits are short and long-term for both baby and mum
As many of you mommas may already know, breastfeeding provides a ton of health benefits for your baby, such as reducing the risk of many illnesses including:
- Ear infections
- Common colds and flus
- Respiratory tract infections
- Bacterial meningitis
- Urinary tract infections
- Infant diarrhoea
Breastfeeding also provides health benefits for children as they grow older and reduces the risk of diseases like:
- Type I and II diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
But, did you know about all the health benefits breastfeeding provides for mothers? Breastfeeding reduces the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and both ovarian and breast cancer in mothers. Even more interesting, breastfeeding baby girls reduces their risk of breast cancer by 25%!
On top of all these health benefits, breastfeeding also reduces a baby’s risk of cavities and the chance they will need braces in the future. It is amazing to see all these health benefits for both mothers and babies!
Breastfeeding helps you get back to your old self
Breastfeeding is known to help mothers burn more calories in a day and return to their pre-baby bodies. It takes, on average, an extra 1,000 calories a day to produce breast milk. This can be a double-edged sword, since mothers typically want to consume more calories to fight the extra cravings that may occur to keep up their breast milk supply (see our blog post on Foods to Help Increase your Milk Supply if you are struggling there)., Additionally, breastfeeding helps mums heal faster during postpartum, helping the body and uterus to heal quicker and lowering postpartum blood loss.
Breastfeeding can promote a sense of calm and bonding that can lead to more time to sleep. Breastfeeding mums sleep on average 45 minutes more a night compared to mothers who formula feed. This is also probably because human breast milk contains hormones that promote calmness in babies allowing them to fall asleep easier. As all sleep-deprived mums know…this may be the greatest benefit of breastfeeding yet!
All in all…the benefits of breastfeeding are fascinating, but it’s YOUR choice
Breastfeeding is incredible and can be a natural experience between mother and baby. It’s important to remember, however, that it might not be for every mum! There are many reasons why a mum might choose formula over breast milk. I believe that all mothers have the right to choose how and what to feed their babies and not feel one ounce of guilt about it as long as it is safe.