It is without a doubt that breast milk is the best food for your baby. As breast milk features various nutrients (i.e. vitamins, protein, and fat), many prominent medical authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly suggests mothers to breastfeed their child. Besides that, the act of breastfeeding can also help you bond with your baby as it promotes physical closeness, eye contact, as well as skin-to-skin touching.
Although the World Health Organization recommended that all babies be breastfed exclusively for at least 6 months, deciding whether or not to breastfeed is a very personal choice.
So here are 10 about breastfeeding and breast milk that you need to know about:
1. No two mothers have the same breast milk: Breast milk can’t be duplicated and it is always changing. Besides that, breast milk taken from one woman during one part of the day won’t be the same as a sample taken from the same woman later in the day. Pretty cool, right?
2. Breastfeeding may help lower the risk for childhood obesity: Studies suggest that breastfed children could more easily determine when they were full while children who were bottle-fed with pumped breast milk were less likely to respond to the feeling of being full by the time they were preschool-aged. As a result, breastfed children grow to have more positive eating behaviors, which could help prevent obesity later in life.
3. Breast milk contains two major types of protein: According to the American Pregnancy Association, breast milk contains two main types of protein – whey and casein. There’s more whey protein than casein, and it has the greatest infection-fighting powers.
4. Breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract and bleeding to cease more quickly after delivery: Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. It can also reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In fact, a woman who breastfeeds for eight years has nearly a 0% risk of breast cancer.
5. Breast milk boosts IQ: Scientists also believe that breastfed infants may reach 8 points higher than babies who aren’t breast fed, especially in verbal evaluations. Apparently, the nutrients in breast milk helps brain development and mental skills while the actual act of breastfeeding is an intimate experience that aids baby development.
6. Breastfeeding can help mothers return to her pre-baby weight: Did you know that it takes 1000 calories a day on average to produce breast milk? Therefore, women are advised to consume an extra 500 calories a day because producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy.
7. You can make cheese with your breast milk: I know this sounds weird but it’s actually possible to make cheese with your breast milk. A couple of years ago, a New York-based chef turned his wife’s breast milk into cheese. Although the New York Health Department quickly banned him from serving it in his restaurant, the chef proceeded to put the recipe on his blog.
8. Breastfeeding can actually reduce your baby’s risk of disease later in life: This includes Type I and II diabetes, Leukemia, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as asthma. In addition, breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
9. Breastfeeding mothers need lots of water: Women who breast feed are more thirsty than normal, and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends that they drink one glass of water for every breastfeeding session.
10. Fresh breast milk lasts up to 8 hours at room temperature: You can also chill it in the refrigerator. However, make sure it’s labeled to ensure freshness as it only lasts 5 – 7 days! Also, you can choose to freeze breast milk in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 – 4 months in a regular freezer.
Also, be sure to check out our article on the best foods for breastfeeding mothers here.