The 10 Things You Likely Don't Know About Breastfeeding
Why is the breast really best? You might already be familiar with the benefits of breastfeeding, but do you know about the following?...
#1 Breastfeeding Encourages a Less Fussy Child when Starting Solids.
This is because your milk will take on the flavor of the foods you eat!
"Because both amniotic fluid and breast milk contain molecules derived from the mother’s diet, learning about flavors in foods begins in the womb and during early infancy. This early experience serves as the foundation for the continuing development of food preferences across the lifespan, and is shaped by the interplay of biological, social, and environmental factors." (1,2,3,4)
In the following study (4.1) they discussed how prenatal and early postnatal exposure (via the breast milk) to a flavor enhances a baby’s enjoyment of that flavor in solid foods during the weaning process.
In conclusion, breastfed babies readily accept a variety of flavors during the introduction of solids and beyond that point. Formula-fed babies, on the other hand, struggle to adapt because they are accustomed to a one-flavored diet. Therefore, breastfeeding promotes a healthy level of food acceptance.
#2 Your Baby can Recognize the Scent of Your Breast Milk.
My husband would often mention how whenever I returned home after an outing and walked into the room where my 4-month-old was, she would become visibly excited without seeing or hearing that it was me. Eyesight can take a couple of years to develop fully, but the sense of smell seems to be the most advanced sense that babies have from birth.
In the study (Chemical communication and mother-infant recognition) Stefano Vaglio at the Department of Evolutionary Biology -the University of Florence stated the following "It seems an inescapable conclusion that naturally occurring odors play an important role in mediating infant behavior. Even fetal olfactory learning seems to occur, and breast odors from the mother exert a pheromone-like effect at the newborn's first attempt to locate the nipple. Newborns are generally responsive to breast odors produced by lactating women." (5)
#3 Breast Milk Changes All the Time!
Your breast milk changes in composition from one month to the next to provide your baby with the perfect food for their evolving needs.
According to Olivia Ballard at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center "Proteomic analysis has discovered thematic distinctions in the proteins that compose milk at differing stages of lactation, as well as differences between term and preterm milks." (6)
#4 Stem Cells?
Your breast milk is alive! It may even contain stem cells!
"It contains a myriad of immunological, biochemical and cellular components that have the potential to significantly alter newborn immunity and susceptibility to infection" (7,8)
"Recent breakthroughs have shown that breast milk is more heterogeneous than previously thought and that it also contains stem cells." (7,8)
#5 Breast Milk Does Not Cause Tooth Decay and May Even Help to Prevent Caries!
“Breastfeeding of the child for more than 40 days may act preventively and inhibit the development of nursing caries in children." (9,10)
#6 Promote Sleep, Calmness and Reduce Pain
Breast milk contains properties that promote sleep, calmness and even reduce pain in babies.
“We concluded that breastfeeding and skin‐to‐skin contact significantly reduced crying in infants receiving immunization." (11,12)
#7 Regulate Your Baby's Temperature
A mother’s breasts can increase or decrease in temperature to cool or heat her baby if needed. This is only one of the reasons why skin-to-skin contact is so essential.
“KC infants compared to control infants had higher mean tympanic temperature (37.3 degrees C vs. 37.0 degrees C), more quiet sleep (62% vs. 22%), and less crying (2% vs. 6%) all at p=.000." (13,14)
#8 Preemies Benefit Greatly
Mothers of premature babies consume breast milk with added protein and minerals as well as extra protective factors to prevent illness and infection, which is especially needed in these cases.
“PT milk appears to approximate more closely the nutritional needs of the preterm infant than does other breast milk." (15,16)
#9 Mom Gets to Sleep Longer
Mothers who breastfeed sleep longer stretches at night when compared to those feeding their babies formula.
“Parents of infants who were breastfed in the evening and/or at night slept an average of 40–45 minutes more than parents of infants given formula." (17,18)
“Human milk has a lot of immunologic and anti-infective agents. Studies in past decades have proven that human milk is a potent immunocompetent agent containing a variety of rich products, each of which has a role in the immunologic protection of infants." (19)
1. Valentina De Cosmi Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Cà Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Branch of Medical Statistics, Biometry, and Epidemiology “G. A. Maccacaro," Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy; [email protected]
2. Silvia Scaglioni Fondazione De Marchi Department of Pediatrics, Fondazione IRCCS Cà Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, 20122 Milan, Italy; [email protected]
3. Carlo Agostoni Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Cà Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy