10 Fascinating Things About Breastfeeding You Might Not Know
All three of my children were breastfed, but it wasn’t until my second child that I realized breastfeeding can do a lot more than help nourish my child during that first year and beyond.
What I Learned
My youngest daughter, Avery, had a blocked tear duct for most of the first year of her life. She’d wake up every morning with one swollen eye that would slowly go down throughout the day. We’d check on it every time she’d see her pediatrician to see the progress and she would continue to tell me to put a warm compress on it and massage the duct twice a day.
After seeing little progress to her eye, I had a friend who mentioned that I should try to massage a few drops of my breastmilk into the tear duct in her eye. Not having ever heard of such a thing, I decided to do some research and was beyond amazed at what I found. I knew breastmilk had great benefits for my baby who was drinking it everyday, but I was unaware of the alternative benefits of breastmilk.
Fascinating Facts About Breastfeeding
In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, a month to celebrate and raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding, I thought I’d share some of the fascinating things I learned about breastfeeding throughout my own breastfeeding journey.
1. Sleepy Mama: I know it’s hard to believe because most of us feel like we’re up all the time with our little one, but according to a study published in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, moms who breastfed their baby in the evening and/or at night slept an average of 40-45 minutes more.
2. Healing Powers: Breast milk doesn’t just nourish your baby. The antibodies in breastmilk can help fight off infections. Putting a few drops of breast milk can help clear your baby’s blocked tear duct, can help get rid of diaper rash, and even help with ear infections. It can even help adults too. Put a few drops of breastmilk on a cut or scratch and it can help disinfect the area. The antibodies in breast milk helps prevent germs from growing on the site of the wound.
3. More from the Right: Always feel like your right breast is fuller than your left? It might be! Nearly two-thirds of breastfeeding moms produce more milk from their right breast.
4. Energy Burner: It’s takes a lot of energy for your body to produce breast milk. In fact, 25% of your body’s energy is used to lactate, while in comparison, your brain only used 20% of your body’s energy.
5. Specific Scent: Your breast milk has a specific scent, one that your baby can detect very quickly. Your baby is attracted to your breastmilk smell, so much so that they can tell the difference between your breast milk and another mom’s breast milk.
6. Cry Baby: Have you ever heard a screaming baby from across the room and noticed that suddenly your milk came in? Research shows that the sound of a crying baby, even if it's not your baby, can trigger a let down. While many moms notice a let down while baby is first on the breast, if baby was crying prior, most moms are more likely to let down at that time.
7. Your Diet Helps: Ever wonder what breast milk tastes like? Your diet helps decide what your breast milk tastes like. A study found that what you eat can flavor your breast milk for up to 8 hours. The flavor of your breast milk can also affect your child's food preferences later. The study found babies are “very receptive to sensory and cognitive learning, and the behaviors established in this period are most probably important for later preference and food behaviors”
8. Color Changing: Your breast milk isn't always white or off-white. Much like the taste of breast milk can alter based on your diet, so can the color. If you've eaten a lot of green colored foods, you might notice a slight green tint to your milk.
9. Night Time Milk: While your breast milk changes during a feeding, research shows that your breastmilk also changes during the day, even more so at night. The breast milk you produce at night is filled with more protein that stimulates melatonin and helps your baby sleep.
10. Mostly Water: Your rel="noopener noreferrer" breast milk is made up of 80% water. Most of the water is taken in during those first few minutes of a feeding. If you think your baby is thirsty, just breastfeed and that will help hydrate him.
Scientists are still doing research on the many benefits of breast milk. It's so fascinating to think of something our bodies naturally make can do so much!
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