If you made the choice to breastfeed your baby, you know that it can be one of the most beautiful ways to bond with your child. If you’re a new mother, breastfeeding can seem quite daunting and frustrating, especially in the first few weeks. So just like everything else involving pregnancy and giving birth, it pays to do your research about breastfeeding too. Here are some little-known facts about breastfeeding that you may not have come across before.
1. It May Take Weeks For The First Latch
The latch is how your baby fastens to your breast. If your baby doesn’t latch straight away don’t be discouraged. Some women notice that the baby may be up to a month old before they take to their breast. Your baby may even show distress when given the breast. Don’t give up too quickly though. Ask nurse and doctors or breastfeeding specialists for help.
2. It Can Make You Bolder
Studies show that mothers who breastfeed are calmer in the face of conflict especially when it comes to their babies’ rights. For example, when defending their baby from a rude stranger, mothers who breastfed their babies had lower blood pressure in tense situations as compared to mothers who bottle fed.1
3. It May Cause Leaks Even When You’re Not Feeding
Milk letdowns are simply the release of milk from the breast. Usually, this happens automatically as a reflex when you hear or see your baby’s hunger cues. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only situation where this can happen. Often, letdowns can happen when you hear any baby crying. It makes for an awkward grocery shopping trip if there’s an unhappy toddler around but it helps to see the humor in the situation.
4. It’s Good For Your Baby Even When You’re Sick
Contrary to what you might have heard, breastfeeding while sick can actually help boost your baby’s immunity. Before symptoms of your sickness show, your baby has already been exposed to the virus which can help strengthen your little one’s defenses. Not to mention, all those unique antibodies that your body produces are making their way into your baby’s system as well.2 Just make sure that you check with your doctor about any medication that you take whether it’s a chronic condition or for your cold or flu.
5. It’s Not Supposed To Hurt
If after the first few seconds of breastfeeding, it still hurts, this means that your baby has not managed to get a comfortable latch. If it does hurt, gently use your finger to break the seal and experiment with different positions. Ideally, the lower part of your areola, as well as the nipple, should be in your infant’s mouth. This makes it more comfortable for you as the sensitive skin around your nipple isn’t being bitten and your baby doesn’t have to work hard to get enough milk.3
6. It Makes Solid Food Easier To Introduce
Babies who drink only formula are familiar with only one specific taste. On the other hand, if your baby has been fed on breast milk, that means he or she has been exposed to hints of the different flavors of food that you eat. This can actually make things easier when you introduce solid food.4
7. It Reduces Risk Of Cancer
Breastfeeding is one factor that can greatly reduce the risk of cancer in older women. Studies show that if you have breastfed your baby, you’re less likely to develop breast cancer or ovarian cancer later in life.5 6
8. It Burns Calories
Mothers who exclusively breastfeed can burn up to 600 calories a day.7But this doesn’t necessarily mean you can lose weight. You still need to consume about 500-600 extra calories per day of nutritious, balanced food so you can provide your baby the nutrients he or she desperately needs to gain weight and stay healthy.
If you choose to breastfeed, it can be incredibly rewarding. While it can be messy and difficult to get the hang of, it does have its own payoffs. If you’re having a baby soon, consider the many benefits of breastfeeding in your daily routine.
|↑1||Hahn-Holbrook, Jennifer, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Colin Holbrook, Sarah M. Coyne, and E. Thomas Lawson. “Maternal defense: breast feeding increases aggression by reducing stress.” Psychological science 22, no. 10 (2011): 1288-1295.|
|↑2||Myths and Facts About Breastfeeding. State of New Jersey Department Of Health.|
|↑3||Breastfeeding checklist: How to get a good latch. Office of Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services|
|↑4||Incredible facts about babies, breast milk, and breastfeeding. Office of Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services|
|↑5||Breast cancer risk factors and prevention. Office of Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services|
|↑6||Li, Da-Peng, Chen Du, Zuo-Ming Zhang, Guang-Xiao Li, Zhi-Fu Yu, Xin Wang, Peng-Fei Li, Cheng Cheng, Yu-Peng Liu, and Ya-Shuang Zhao. “Breastfeeding and ovarian cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 40 epidemiological studies.” Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 15, no. 12 (2014): 4829-4837.|
|↑7||Incredible facts about babies, breast milk, and breastfeeding. Office of Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services|