Move over kale: We’re going to go ahead and label breast milk the original superfood! Breastfeeding goes way beyond nourishing a baby — it has properties that affect both mother and child well past weaning.
Here are some of the crazy-but-true benefits of breastfeeding:
1. Your breasts know how warm baby needs to be.
Newborns aren’t able to regulate body temperature, but a mother’s breasts can sense her baby’s need to warm up or cool down and adjust to accommodate. This fascinating feature is known as thermal synchrony, and it can be sensitive enough to detect and respond to baby’s temperature changing by a single degree. One more great reason to get that sweet skin-to-skin time with baby!
2. Your breast milk is a custom blend for each feeding.
You probably know about colostrum (aka liquid gold), but the transition from this magnificent pre-milk to mature milk is only part of the complex breastfeeding story. In fact, a mother’s milk changes for each era of baby’s development, adjusting levels of fat, water, and various nutrients as baby’s developmental needs change.
But it gets even better — just as breasts can detect when baby needs a temperature adjustment, they can also detect when baby needs extra hydration during hot weather or an illness. And they also introduce more illness-fighting antibodies and live white blood cells into their milk when baby (or mama) is sick.
And, to the joy of tired new moms everywhere, breast milk also changes composition after dark to help baby feel more sleepy at night.
3. Breastfeeding has long-term health benefits for baby.
One amazing fact about breast milk we’re just beginning to understand is that it’s actually a living substance. In addition to top-notch, customized nutrition, it also contains living stem cells and progenitor cells that may be able to benefit a baby’s organs and internal structures throughout infancy.
Breastfeeding is also linked to a lower risk of illnesses like colds, flus, bacterial meningitis, ear infections, respiratory infections, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections (like those from Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter). Breast milk consumption is also linked to a reduced risk of SIDS.
But wait, there’s more! Research also shows that a child who was breastfed continues to reap health benefits later in life — even into adulthood. People who were breastfed may have a reduced risk for both types of diabetes, leukemia, hypertension, Hodgkin’s disease, asthma, Crohn’s disease, high levels of bad cholesterol, and obesity.
And there’s evidence that breastfed baby girls have a 25% reduced chance of developing breast cancer as an adult. Amazing!
4. Breastfeeding also has long-term perks for mom.
Speaking of breast cancer, breastfeeding for at least six months is linked to a reduced risk for women (even if they have a family history of breast cancer). Mothers who breastfeed also have a lower risk of developing uterine or ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, postpartum depression, heart disease, and stroke.
One long-term benefit we don’t talk about enough is the emotional impact of breastfeeding on a mother. The reduced risk of postpartum depression and the promotion of a healthy mother-baby bond are truly wonderful, but nursing also facilitates the development of maternal intuition and confidence. Mothers who breastfeed have shown a stronger neurological response to baby’s cues and cries.
Let’s talk about breastfeeding in person!
We could talk about the wonders of breast milk all day, but why don’t we have the conversation as we tour The Retreat Birth Center together? We’d love to answer your questions and show you how beautiful a natural birth followed by uninterrupted breastfeeding and bonding can be!
Schedule your free one-hour tour of The Retreat today. Please call (915) 213-1484 or click here.