To honour World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) we are bringing you 10 facts about breastfeeding and breast milk.
1. Liquid gold
Before your milk comes in (2/3 days after birth) you will produce a substance called colostrum, also known as ‘liquid gold’. It is packed full of potassium, calcium, minerals, protein and antibodies to give your baby a great start. Human milk sells online for around $4 per ounce, around 260 times more than the price of oil.
2. Breastfeeding helps you lose weight
This is commonly touted as a benefit of breastfeeding and it’s true! Breastfeeding women burn the fat they accumulated during pregnancy as energy to produce breastmilk. In addition, if you breastfeed exclusively you use around 600 calories a day and the metabolic energy required to produce all that milk is equivalent to walking seven miles.
3. Baby can recognise you
Newborns have a strong sense of smell and will recognise the distinctive smell of you and your milk. That’s why they turn their heads towards you when they are hungry. Aside from smell, newborns are very near-sighted – they can only see objects about 8-15 inches away. This is the perfect distance for your baby to look at your face when feeding, helping to strengthen your bond.
4. Birth control benefits
If you breastfeed exclusively your body will delay ovulating for up to six months after birth. It isn’t fail-safe, but WHO says it offers 98% protection against pregnancy.
5. Speeds your body’s recovery
Breastfeeding helps your body recover from pregnancy and childbirth as the hormones released during feeding help your uterus contract back to pre-pregnancy size. Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin which helps relax both you and baby.
6. You will produce enough
One of the worries new mums voice is not producing enough milk to completely sustain their baby. Occasionally mums do have a low-milk supply but generally speaking your body will produce enough milk to meets your baby’s demands.
7. Your right breast does more
Almost three-quarters of women produce more milk in their right breast, which has nothing to do with being left- or right-handed.
8. Your breasts aren’t emptied
Babies feed until they are full, not until they have ‘emptied’ your breast. On average the baby will take 67% of the milk available in your breast, though this can vary widely from woman to woman.
9. Bigger isn’t better
The size of your breasts won’t impact how much milk you produce and women with breast implants are also able to breastfeed.
10. What you eat affects the taste
While formula milk has one taste, your breast milk is subtly flavoured by what you eat and drink. This exposes your baby to different flavours and may make introducing solid foods easier later on.