5 Amazing Facts About Breastfeeding!

Postpartum Resources

Breast milk is alive: Just like human blood, breast milk is a living bodily fluid that contains a range of healthy bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells, antimicrobials, and cell wall protecting proteins that help protect against bacteria and viruses.  Exclusive breastfeeding will colonize your baby’s gut with healthy bacteria that aids in digestion and helps develop the body’s immune system. Should you become ill, specialized white blood cells will be produced in your breast milk, protecting your baby. Additionally, if your baby is sick, the transfer of germs between the two if you will cause your body to produce antibodies that will then be given to your baby through your milk to help him fight off his illness. Even small amounts of breast milk provide valuable immune-system benefits to your baby!

Breastfeeding produces hormones: Two main hormones are produced in the mother while breastfeeding. The first is prolactin, the hormone responsible for the production of more milk! Prolactin give your body the ability to gauge your baby’s needs and customize your milk supply.    

The second hormone is oxytocin. Oxytocin contracts and shrinks your uterus back to size directly after childbirth, ad is responsible for your “let down” response, which rewards your baby for all of her hard suckling work! This hormone is also an important part of the mother/infant bonding process, and it also produced in our bodies during other loving behaviors that make us feel good and close to others. Oxytocin can also be a powerful antidepressant. Postpartum depression affects millions of new mothers, and oxytocin has been shown to elevate mood, and increase satisfaction in nursing moms.

Breast milk changes while you feed, and as your baby grows: When your baby first begins to suck, the initial milk she receives will be more watery and less nutrient dense to quench her thirst. As she continues to feed, her sucking will trigger your “letdown reflex,” which is the process in which your body releases the high-fat milk, or “hind milk” that will meet your baby’s energy needs.    

There are also changes to your milk as your baby grows and develops different micro and macronutrient needs. And studies show the immunity-enhances properties of your breast milk become more concentrated in the second year of life, right as your baby becomes mobile and exposed to a wider array of germs.

Breastmilk contains stem cells: Stem cells are passed from mother to baby via breastmilk to boost immunity. Stem cells have the unusual ability to regenerate themselves and develop into a variety of different tissues, resulting in them being often used for therapeutic purposes. While only discovered recently, extensive testing in mice revealed that breastmilk stem cells do, in fact, pass on to offspring and develop into mature cells in many different tissues in the body. For instance, stem cells found in the brain were acting as neurons, and those found in the pancreas were making insulin. Breastmilk stem cells have other unique properties that could make them even more valuable for therapeutic purposes that embryonic stem cells, and scientists are working  towards the ability to use them in treatments.

Breastfeeding burns calories: Producing milk is hard work! The process of milk production is new to your body, and uses a lot of energy. On average, a regularly nursing mother will burn 300-500 calories per day. This estimate varies depending on how much milk you are producing, but this extra burn can help some women lose pregnancy weight, so long as you are not increasing your food intake too much to supplement. Your appetite will increase during breastfeeding, so keep in mind that it can be tricky to figure out the right balance. Other weight-affecting factors are also in play after childbirth, but in many women, breastfeeding plays an important role in burning off the extra fat stored during pregnancy.

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