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Incredible facts about babies, breast milk, and breastfeeding
Did you know?
Moms can still breastfeed while sick. In fact, it’s good for your baby. When you get sick, your body starts fighting the illness by making antibodies, which then get passed on to your baby. By the time you show symptoms of illness, guess what? Your baby has already been exposed to the virus or bacteria, which boosts your baby’s immune system. By continuing to breastfeed, you're not just keeping your milk supply up, but you’re further protecting your baby from getting sick in the future.
Like pregnancy and childbirth, you should learn about breastfeeding before becoming a new mom. Test your breastfeeding knowledge by reading these facts to better understand how amazing women’s bodies truly are.
- Breastfed babies typically get sick less. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ear infections, diarrhea, and stomach problems.
- Children who are breastfed have a lower rate of certain illnesses as they grow up. Babies who are not breastfed have a higher risk of asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity. Since African-Americans are at an increased risk for these conditions, it’s important to understand the long-term benefits of breastfeeding.
- Your baby can smell you. Newborns have a strong sense of smell and know the unique scent of your breast milk. That is why your baby will turn his or her head to you when he or she is hungry.
- Your baby can see you up close and personal. Babies are born extremely nearsighted, which means they can only see things about 8 to 15 inches away. That also happens to be the distance between your face and your baby’s face when breastfeeding. So when your baby locks eyes with you, it’s a true bonding moment.
- Breastfeeding allows your body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth more quickly. The hormones released when you breastfeed make your uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size.
- Breastfeeding exposes your baby to many different tastes. Formula has one taste. But through your breast milk, your baby eventually gets a slight taste of whatever you eat, although not directly. This will later make introducing solid foods easier.
- Breastfeeding may help you to lose weight. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed can burn as many as 600 calories a day, which may help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in moms.
- Breastfeeding can save a family more than $1,200 to $1,500 in formula-related expenses in a baby’s first year alone.
- Your body starts getting ready to breastfeed during pregnancy. After you give birth, your body gets the final signal to make milk, which is usually more than one newborn can handle. Why? Your body doesn’t know whether you have one, two, three, four, or more babies to feed. Your supply then regulates to meet your baby’s (or babies’) needs.
- Before your milk comes in, in the first few days after birth, your breasts make a thick, sticky, yellowish fluid sometimes referred to as “liquid gold.” Called colostrum, this liquid has the calcium, potassium, proteins, minerals, and antibodies your baby needs. Your baby needs only a few teaspoons to feel full and stay healthy until your milk flow increases, about two to five days after birth.
- Your breast milk changes during a feeding session. When your baby first starts to nurse, your milk is a watery bluish color. Toward the end of the feeding session, your baby gets to thicker, fattier milk, which gives your baby the calories needed to grow healthy and strong.
- Breast milk heals. Breast milk is filled with special components that are designed to help fight infection and cut down on swelling in the breast. So, if your breasts are sore those first few days, gently massaging some of your milk into your nipples and breasts can soothe the soreness and speed up recovery.
Content last updated: December 21, 2012.
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