10 Awesome Breastfeeding Facts You Probably Don't Know (But Should)
Breastfeeding is an amazing, natural act that can do so much good for you and baby. Here are 10 of our favourite magical, funny and amazing facts about breastfeeding.
1. Nipple Knowledge
This may seem super obvious but nipples don't just have one big hole. Milk is released through a collection of milk ducts that start within the breast tissue and end, of course, at the nipple. When babies—or a breast pump—suck the milk out, it's less like a hose and more like a rain shower.
2. Signature Scent
Breastfed babies can smell their mother—her milk, specifically—from a distance of at least 20 feet away. And they can differentiate her scent from other moms.
3. Sleep Tight
Believe it or not, breastfeeding mamas of newborns tend to get 45 minutes more sleep than bottle feeding moms.
4. Automatic Thermostat
Skin-to-skin contact with baby is vital for breastfeeding moms. A mother's breasts can actually warm up or cool down to help regulate baby's temperature.
5. Natural Ointment
Breast milk is sterile and mother's will often use it to help heal a scratch on baby's body (newborns have notoriously sharp and difficult to cut fingernails), skin irritation or even slight eye infection.
6. Metabolism Boost
Lactating moms can say bye-bye to that baby weight (as long as they're consuming a healthy diet) because producing breast milk uses up to a quarter of the body's energy. That could mean burning 500 calories a day, or more. Our Essential Nutrients For Breastfeeding Moms article explains just how many calories you burn in more detail.
7. Supply and Demand
Milk production is all about supply and demand. When a baby goes through a growth spurt, they often go through a couple of days of feeding almost non-stop. This tells your body to produce more milk for the baby's next bigger phase of life. Moms can use a breast pump to increase their supply. By pumping every day, the body gets used to making that amount of extra milk.
8. Newborns Know
Breastfeeding is instinctual. When you put most healthy newborns on their mother's chests and let them be, they will inevitably root for the breast and find it by wiggling their way there.
9. Milky Medicine
Breastfeeding moms can help protect their babies from getting sick. Mothers pass antibodies for illnesses or viruses either mom or baby have been exposed to on to their babies in breastmilk. If a baby has been exposed to something mom hasn't, the germs are passed to mom during a feeding and then mom's body can start to produce protection which is delivered to baby during the next nursing session. Breastfeeding also lowers mom and baby's chances of developing certain types of cancer!
10. Handy Helpers
Breastfeeding and need help? There are lots of great resources. Locally, look for lactation consultants and breastfeeding clinics in your area. Just looking for information? Sites like Kellymom, the website for the La Leche League and international breastfeeding expert Dr. Newman (you can even email a question to the expert and expect an answer back!) can be a big help.