Dazzling and Amazing Lesser-Known Facts about Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Your Baby Girl Reduces Her Lifetime Risk of Breast Cancer by as much as 25%.
Protect two women for the price of one! Freudenheim, J. et al. 1994 “Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer”. Epidemiology 5:324-331
Your Milk is a Daily Vaccine Against Every Virus You Come Into Contact with.
Worried about your newborn getting that virus your 2 year old has? As you are nursing, your body will make antibodies against every virus you are exposed to and deposit them in your milk to protect your baby from getting sick, or help them to get better faster. This is why suspending nursing when you have a a cold or the flu is bad advice. We can’t tell you how many moms have been given such misguided advice by well-meaning relatives or ill-informed pediatricians. Hanson LA, et al. The mammary gland-infant intestine immunologic dyad Adv Exp Med Biol. 2000;478:65-76.
Your Baby is born with an Immature Digestive System. Your Perfect Milk Completes the Development of Your Baby’s Stomach Lining Making it 15x Thicker Than that of a Formula-Fed Baby.
This helps breastfed babies to absorb food more rapidly, grow better and resist contaminants and infections. In fact, this maturing process is being studied as lowering the risk of lifelong digestive diseases such as Crohn’s. Walker WA. Host Defense Mechanisms in the Gastrointestinal Tract. Ped 57(6), Jun 1976; Walker, WA, Absorption of protein and protein fragments in developing intestine. Peds 75: 167-71, 1985. Rigas A, et al. Breast-feeding and maternal smoking in the etiology of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in childhood. Ann Epidemiol 3:387-92 (1993); Koletzko S, Sherman P, Corey M, et al. “Role of infant feeding practices in development of Crohn’s disease in childhood.” Br Med J. 1989;298:1617-1618
Your Milk Jump-Starts Your Baby’s Immune System.
Your milk contains healthy bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells, antimicrobials and cell wall protectors — which is the science behind why exclusively breastfed babies have a significantly lower risk of contracting infections. Without this vital infusion, your baby is defenseless against common bacteria in our environment, i.e., E. coli, streptococcus. Goldman AS. The immune system in human milk and the developing infant. Breastfeed Med. 2007 Dec;2(4):195-204.
Breastfeeding Helps Babies Regulate Their Breathing.
Newborns have immature respiratory systems and often breathe erratically. The experience of nursing—being close to you, being perfectly nourished, hearing your lungs inflate and deflate, hearing your heart beat—all help baby to breathe rhythmically and without problems. Ip S, et al. Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries.Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2007 Apr;(153):1-186
Your Milk Provides Perfect and Varying Proportions of Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein For Babies of Different Ages.
Your body knows who’s nursing: a newborn has different nutritional needs than a three, six or nine month old. Your milk is constantly changing to provide the perfect balance for your baby—even changing composition to better hydrate a baby with the stomach flu! On the other hand, formula is just that: one formula, the whole way through. J Am Diet Assoc 2001; 101: 1213
Breastfed Babies Make Better Eaters as Toddlers.
Breastmilk is gourmet dining for the tiny tot set! Different foods, oils and spices you consume flavor your milk, introducing and exposing your baby to a variety of flavors before (s)he ever tastes solid food. Formula has one bland flavor. Period. Mennella JA, Jagnow CP, Beauchamp GK. Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants. Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):E88.
Your Milk Knocks a Baby Out Like Nothin’ Else!
Human milk contains substances that induce sleep and calmness in babies. A sleeping baby is a very desirable result, right? Also, milk “drunk” infants look like they’ve gone to Nirvana. The sense of satisfaction you get from knowing your body delivered that one-two punch is priceless! Cubero J, Valero V, Sánchez J, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. The circadian rhythm of tryptophan in breast milk affects the rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and sleep in newborn. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2005 Dec;26(6):657-61.
Breastfeeding Has a Calming Effect on You Too.
When your baby nurses, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which causes calmness, even sleepiness. It’s also one explanation why breastfeeding mothers experience less postpartum depression, and why there are fewer incidences of child abuse and domestic violence. Double bonus: your body releases endorphins during breastfeeding also, which benefit you–this is why breastfeeding mothers report being happier, less tired and having less post-partum depression. Mezzacappa ES. Breastfeeding and maternal stress response and health (Review). Nutr Rev. 2004 Jul;62(7 Pt 1):261-8,The Breastfeeding Book, Copyright 2000, M. Sears, R.N. and Wm. Sears, M.D.. Little Brown and Co; Acheston, L, “Family violence and breastfeeding” Arch. Fam. Med. 1995, 4:650-652.
Breastfeeding is a Great Pain Reliever and Soother.
Breastfeeding is like the “magic bullet” of motherhood. Your milk contains endorphins which soothe and calm babies during times of stress. This comes in very handy during vaccinations, injuries, illnesses, or when your baby just needs that special cuddle. Osinaike BB, Oyedeji AO, Adeoye OT, Dairo MD, Aderinto DA. Effect of breastfeeding during venepuncture in neonates. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2007 Sep;27(3):201-5.
Breastfed Children Cope Better with Stressful Situations Years After Being Weaned.
Breastfed children cope better than their formula-fed peers with stressful situations, i.e., their parents’ divorce. The process of breastfeeding gives your baby a very early opportunity to learn important self-soothing and self-regulating skills, which are life-long social and emotional development tools that you will appreciate fully from preschool into adulthood, believe us! Breast feeding and resilience against psychosocial stress Online First Arch Dis Child 2006 doi: 101136/adc.2006.
Breast milk Goes Down Easy and Stays Down.
Breast milk is so easily digested, that breastfed babies have far less spit-up (regurgitation), tummy discomfort and constipation than formula-fed babies. Breast milk is especially tolerated better during a bout with the stomach virus. Less laundry is a good thing—with the added bonus that breast milk purportedly doesn’t stain as much as formula. Heacock, H.J. “Influence of Breast vs. Formula Milk in Physiologic Gastroesophageal Reflux in Healthy Newborn Infants” Jour. Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 1992 January; 14(1): 41-6.
What Hooters? They’re Heaters! Your Breasts Are Able to Detect Even a One Degree Drop in Your Baby’s Temperature and Warm Up.
Really!!!! You are the best incubator/warmer there is. Wrapping that baby up like a Christmas present is necessary if he/she will be away from you. But the best way to keep her warm in the early days is to cuddle with her skin-to-skin with a blanket over the two of you. Your skin contact means that baby will have to expend fewer calories regulating her own temperature. And, it’s a delicious experience not to be missed! Bergström A, Okong P, Ransjö-Arvidson AB. Immediate maternal thermal response to skin-to-skin care of newborn. Acta Paediatr. 2007 May;96(5):655-8.
Breastfed Babies Have Luminous Skin and they Smell Like Vanilla Beans.
What else would you expect when your baby is being raised on the original organic? That gorgeous skin and that delicious scent is the result of every cell in your little one’s body being infused with the stuff nature intended. Nothing artificial here and it shows!
Breast Milk Poop Doesn’t Smell that Bad.
Like we said, if it’s pure going in, it’s pure coming out. This nice perk also gives the statement “my kid’s s_ _t doesn’t stink” some real validity!
Breastfeeding Protects Against Cavities.
Beware the misguided advice that you need to wipe your 6 month old baby’s teeth after each feeding. The last thing you want to do is wake a blissfully sleeping baby! Breast milk’s bacteria fighting cells actually help prevent tooth decay. Unlike bottle-feeding, where babies are at increased risk for baby bottle-related cavities, breastfed babies can be left alone after falling into that deep Nirvana sleep at the breast without worry. Loesche WJ, “Nutrition and dental decay in infants.” Am J Clin Nutr 41; 423-435, 1985
Breastfeeding Can Reduce the Need for Braces.
The human mouth was not intended to accommodate artificial (rubber or latex) nipples. The action of suckling on the breast helps the proper formation of the jaw, palate, teeth and gums. The longer you breastfeed, the more likely this benefit will occur. Leite ICG, et al. Associação entre aleitamento materno e hábitos de sucção não-nutritivos. Revista da Associação Paulista dos Cirurgiões Dentistas 1999;53:151-5; Paunio P, Rautava P, Sillanpaa M. The Finnish Family Competence Study: the effects of living conditions on sucking habits in 3-year-old Finnish children and the association between these habits and dental occlusion. Acta Odontol Scand 1993;51:23-9; Degano MP, Degano RA. Breastfeeding and oral health. A primer for the dental practitioner. NY State Dent J 1993;59:30-2; Labbok, M.H. “Does Breastfeeding Protect against Malocclusion? An Analysis of the 1981 Child Health Supplement to the National Health Interview Survey” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1987
Breastfeeding Reduces Bed-Wetting.
Children breast-fed as infants are less likely to wet the bed later—possibly because they have a developmental edge. Barone JG, Ramasamy R, Farkas A, Lerner E, Creenan E, Salmon D, Tranchell J, Schneider D. Breastfeeding during infancy may protect against bed-wetting during childhood. Pediatrics. 2006 Jul;118(1):254-9.
Breastfeeding Increases Organ Acceptance in Case of Transplant.
Like recognizes like. Grown children who were breastfed and who receive donated kidneys from their mothers or a sibling are significantly less likely to reject the organ than if they were not breastfed. Kois WE, Campbell DA Jr, Lorber MI, Sweeton JC, Dafoe DC. Influence of breast feeding on subsequent reactivity to a related renal allograft. J Surg Res. 1984 Aug;37(2):89-93.
Breastfeeding Increases Vaccine Effectiveness.
Breastfed babies’ immune systems respond better to vaccinations than formula-fed babies. Plus, a quick nursing is super soothing after those nasty shots! Han-Zoric, M., “Antibody responses to parenteral and oral vaccines are impaired by conventional and low protein formulas as compared to breastfeeding.” Acta Paediatr Scand 1990; 79:1137-42 Breastfeeding Lowers Your Baby’s Risk of Developing High Cholesterol. Owen CG et al (2002) “Infant Feeding and Blood Cholesterol: A Study in Adolescents and a Systemic Review” Pediatrics 110: 597-608 Breastfeeding Protects Against Multiple Sclerosis in Adulthood. Pisacane A, et al “Breastfeeding and multiple sclerosis” BMJ 1994; 308: 1411-2 (28 May) Breastfeeding is Associated with Lower Blood Pressure in Childhood. Martin RM et al (2004). “Does Breast-Feeding in Infancy Lower Blood Pressure in Childhood?” The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Circulation 109; Martin RM et al (2005). “Breastfeeding in Infancy and Blood Pressure in Later Life: Systematic Review and Meta Analysis.” American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 161 (1): 15-26
Help for the Color Blind – Your Areola Have Darkened to Help Baby Hit that Bullseye!
It is theorized that newborns see shapes contrasted in black and white more clearly. So now you know why you look like your breasts resemble those black and white hanging mobiles! It’s all part of nature’s perfect plan to help make sure baby hits the target and gets the gold!
Help for the Farsighted – Newborns Only See Objects Clearly Within 8-10 Inches, the Exact Distance Between Your Nipple and Your Face.
Marshall Klaus has written extensively about the world from your newborn babe’s perspective, including your little one’s ability to read, respond to and even mimick (yes, imitate) the expressions on your face if close enough. This is one of those awesome observations which proves that eating is not just an act of nutrition, it’s a communication, an exchange of love between you and your little babe. Nature rigged it so that from the safe perch of your breast your wee ones could look into your eyes and connect with you while nursing. Isn’t that amazing? Klaus, Marshall H,. Klaus, Phyllis H., Your Amazing Newborn, 2000, Perseus Books, Inc..
Breast Milk May Help Clear Up Eye Infections.
Breast milk’s natural antibiotics have many different uses, including a squirt in the eye when your little one has a clogged tear duct and accompanying irritation. Ibhanesebhor SE, Otobo ES. In vitro activity of human milk against the causative organisms of ophthalmia neonatorum in Benin City, Nigeria. J Trop Pediatr. 1996 Dec;42(6):327-9.
Breast Milk Can Be Left at Room Temperature for Several Hours.
Human milk contains natural antibiotics and infection-fighters which means it does not need to be rushed to the refrigerator even if baby has only taken part of a bottle of breast milk.
Breastfeeding Moms Sleep More.
No, we’re not kidding. Breastfeeding mothers slept an average of 45 minutes a night more than mothers who were formula feeding, and reported feeling less tired. Parents of formula-fed babies suffered more sleep disturbances as well. Doan T, Gardiner A, Gay CL, Lee KA. Breast-feeding increases sleep duration of new parents. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2007 Jul-Sep;21(3):200-6.
Written by Danielle Rigg, JD, CLC, and brought to you by Best for Babes. Special thanks to Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, Cindy Turner-Maffei, MA, IBCLC and Bettina Forbes, CLC for references and editing.
© 2006-2008 Best for Babes, LLC, All Rights Reserved.