Breastfeeding is pretty amazing, it gives your little one a good start to life. Here are 18 facts to help motivate, inspire and fascinate you:
1. The first 24 hours after birth are most crucial for milk production. The signal for making breast milk starts immediately after the placenta is delivered. Skin to skin contact and feeding your baby, ideally within 30 minutes to one hour after birth, promotes all the needed hormones.
2. Breasts operate on a supply and demand system. That means they can keep up with the demand of twins or different aged children.
3. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is what is promotes let down of your milk and keeps it flowing while your baby feeds. Another excuse to snuggle and love on that little one. Trying to minimize stress is important as well as best you can as that can inhibit your let down reflex.
4. Babies that breastfeed are sick less often than formula fed babies. Breast milk provides antibodies that help keep baby healthy and recover quicker when they do get sick.
5. Breastfeed babies have fewer allergies. Exposure to mother’s normal body flora through increased skin contact and specific proteins in breast milk are hypothesized to cause this correlation.
6. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese as adults. Babies are more likely to overeat with formula than with breastfeeding.
7. Breast size has nothing to do with how much milk you make. It is impossible to tell what your breast capacity is from size. Fat content generally determines size whereas the amount of breast tissue (ducts) will determine how much milk you can store at a time to feed your baby.
8. In the 3 month range, your breasts will regulate their milk production. Some mothers panic when they notice their breasts getting softer around this time, but there is nothing to worry about. As your breasts adjust to adequately feeding your baby they stop overproducing and make you more comfortable, hooray!
9. Breastfeeding isn’t just “food.” It also provides hydration, comfort, mother-baby bonding and wellness!
10. Breastfeeding is recommended for at least 6 months, ideally only providing mother’s milk during this time (known as exclusive breastfeeding). The general recommendation in 6 months to 2 years, but in some cultures they are known feed up to 5+ years!
11. You have rights to continue breastfeeding (via pumping) if you return to work. This means a private space and adequate breaks. Check out your state laws for specifics. (backlink to your other blog articles on this). If you need a good pump for work, there are a lot of great options here.
12. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production. Levels are highest at night (and, the early morning hours), making this an ideal time to feed and pump when trying to establish and/or increase milk supply.
13. Breastfeeding is allowed in any public or private location. As of July 2018, all 50 states allow public feeding. There is still stigma and harassment around breastfeeding in public, so support your fellow mamas!
14. For breast related issues, continuing feeding is crucial. Issues like engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis require continued feeding to recover.
15. Breastmilk exposes baby to the flavors of what you eat. You may find your baby doesn’t like the taste of your breast milk after eating certain foods, such as spicy food or raw onions and garlic. Certain foods may also make them gassier such as beans and dairy. There is some evidence to show that eating a variety of food when breastfeeding can decrease baby’s food aversions when they start eating solids.
16. Foods can affect milk production. Foods like sage, oregano, mint, alcohol, and caffeine can decrease supply, while fennel, oatmeal, spinach, almonds, and garlic can increase supply.
17. Breastfeeding comes with a lot less hassle. Although it requires a significant time commitment, it is also convenient to always have milk “on tap” without having to deal with sterilization, bottles, formula ratios and warmth.
18. If you are struggling or are anxious, there is tons of support out there. Support is available in the form of forums, local support groups (check if your city has a local La Leche Club), and online support.
In case you didn’t already know, it’s clear that breastfeeding is pretty cool! Do you have additional tips to share? Leave them in the comments!