You may have heard the saying “Breast is Best”. There is a strong and powerful connection between breastfeeding and babies. Just like pregnancy and childbirth, expectant moms should also learn some facts about breastfeeding before giving birth to a child. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective sources to ensure mother’s and child’s overall health and wellbeing. Breastfeeding alone can save a family’s more than $1,200 to $1,500 in formula-associated expenses in baby’s first year. Test your breastfeeding knowledge by learning about these incredible breastfeeding facts for a better understanding of how amazing women’s bodies are.
According to WHO, an infant should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of his/her life. After six months, mother’s should introduce solid foods such as mashed vegetables and fruits for up to two years to complement breastfeeding. Begin breastfeeding within one hour of your child’s birth and feed your baby on demand, as often as your baby wants.
Health Benefits for Infants
Breastfeeding has several long-term benefits. Breast milk is ideal for the newborns and infants as they are high in essential nutrients required for healthy development of the baby. It contains antibodies that help in reducing the risk of common childhood illness such as pneumonia, ear infections, stomach problems, diarrhea, bacterial meningitis, respiratory tract and urinary tract infections etc.
Health Benefits for Mothers
Breastfeeding helps in reducing the mother’s risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression. Breastfeeding can also serve as a natural method of birth control. It can give up to 98% of protection in the first six months after childbirth. Breastfeeding also allows the mother to recover from pregnancy and childbirth more quickly and return to her pre-baby weight. Breastfeeding help mothers to sleep on an average of 45 minutes more as compared to those who formula feed their baby.
Long-Term Health Benefits for Children
Apart from the instant benefits, breastfeeding also has some long-term health benefits. Breastfeeding can help in reducing the baby’s risk of certain disease later in life. The list includes obesity, type II diabetes, leukemia, asthma, eczema, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels etc.
Avoiding Infant Formula
Infant formula does not have the antibodies present in breast milk. Infant formula may not provide your baby with the long-term health benefits associated with breastfeeding. Further, there are risks arising from the use of unsterilized equipment or unsafe water or presence of bacteria in infant formula.
Remember Your Baby can Smell You
Newborns do have a strong sense of smell. They also know the unique scent of the breast milk. This is why babies end up turning their head to the mothers when they are hungry. Babies are born nearsighted and can only see things about 8-15 inches away. This is approximately the distance between your baby’s and your face while breastfeeding. True bonding, we must say.
In the first few days after, your breasts make sticky, thick, and a yellowish fluid called colostrum. This liquid has the calcium, proteins, potassium, minerals, and antibodies. Your baby usually needs only a few teaspoons of breast milk to feel full until your milk flow increases, about 2-5 days after birth.
Changes in Breast Milk
One of the most important facts about breastfeeding is that breast milk changes color. When you start nursing your baby for the first time, your milk will be slightly watery bluish in color. As you approach the end of a feeding session, you baby gets thicker milk that gives your baby the calories and essential nutrients required to grow strong and healthy. Breast milk also changes its nutritional value as your baby grows.
One of the interesting things you did not know about breastfeeding is that mothers can breastfeed their babies while they are sick. When a mother gets sick, her body starts making the antibodies to fight illness. By the time the mother shows some symptoms, her baby is already exposed to the bacteria or virus, which boosts her baby’s immune system. So, you are not only keeping your milk supply up by continuing to breastfeed your baby but also protecting your baby from getting ill in the future. Apart from the mentioned breastfeeding facts, breast milk has also the capability to fight infection, minor cuts, or swelling in the breast.