Breast milk is a true miracle of nature created especially for babies. Being a full meal for little children, breast milk supports the full development of the baby. Breastfeeding can protect the baby from infections and from some chronic diseases, contributing to an ideal development in the early years of the baby’s life. It also contributes to building a more powerful and closer relationship between the mother and her baby. The benefits of breastfeeding are visible for both the mother and the baby, but there are some things you didn’t know about breast milk and that is what this article will debate.
Advantages of breastfeeding
Most mothers can breastfeed, so forget about what others might say that your milk is not good, or it is not enough for your baby. The breast milk is always good and healthy as long as your all good and healthy, following a balanced healthy diet.
Let’s see which are the biggest 9 advantages of breastfeeding.
1. Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life.
Your baby doesn’t need other food besides breast milk, which is the easiest for him to digest. Both colostrum (the milk secreted immediately after birth) and the matured breast milk contain antibodies and other agents which protect the baby from infections and diseases, such as enterocolitis, respiratory infections, ear infections, or type 1 diabetes.
2. Breast milk composition has a secret formula.
Although there are many companies that try to replicate the breast milk formula, it can not be duplicated. Breast milk is a living tissue with many features designed to protect against certain diseases, and it also contains fatty acids that improve the development of the nervous system.
3. Breast milk keeps your baby out of any danger.
Breastfeeding is important for the proper development of the visual sense of the baby’s, for speech development, and for strengthening the jaws and mouth’s muscles. Also, some studies concluded that breastfeeding decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
4. Breast milk adapts to the baby’s needs.
Breast milk is changing during lactation. At the beginning it has a watery composition, quenching the baby’s thirst. Afterward, the breast milk becomes thicker, creamy and full of healthy fats that satisfy the appetite of the baby. Milk changes during the lactation period, as the baby reduces the number of meals.
5. The taste of the breast milk.
Its taste changes according to your diet, which means that a breastfed child may more easily accept new tastes when the food diversification begins.
6. Breastfeeding created an emotional connection.
The skin to skin contact during breastfeeding encourages creating an emotional connection between the mother and her baby, stimulating at the same time the production of the hormones that are responsible for breast milk production.
7. Breast milk is hygienic.
If you feed your baby directly from your breast, there is no need for sterilization or disinfection.
When you’re milking yourself all you have to do is to wash your breast pump every 24 hours. In the breaks between meals, the breastfeeding equipment can be kept in the fridge.
8. Breastfeeding is convenient.
No need to sterilize baby’s bottles, clean the teats, boil water or prepare your baby’s meals with milk formulas which are expensive, by the way. Go for the natural and free of costs breast milk that nature offered to you to breastfeed your baby with.
9. Breast milk has its beneficial effects on the mothers, too.
For women who breastfeed their kids the risks of developing osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes are lower. Moreover, breastfeeding can help the new mothers to quickly return to the silhouette they had before pregnancy.
A study on the bacteria in the breast milk
A study aimed to determine how many beneficial bacteria are contained by the breast milk concluded that no less than 700 types of beneficial bacteria are transmitted to the baby during breastfeeding.
In the study, the researchers have analyzed the breast milk of 18 women and concluded that among those 700 beneficial bacteria that are transmitted to the baby through the breast milk are also staphylococcus and streptococcus.
More interesting is that as the baby grows, the bacteria in breast milk change. In colostrum most commonly bacteria are
All these have beneficial effects on the newborn’s body. Some improve the immune system, while others help the newborn to easily assimilate nutrients.
Two months after birth, in the breast milk appear
These help the baby to develop a normal digestive tract function, increasing the baby’s ability to easily digest food.
Paradoxically, it was observed that the variety of the bacteria is smaller in the case of breast milk of overweight women in comparison with the wide variety of bacteria found in the breast milk of normal weight women. The same phenomenon occurs in those women who have gained a lot during pregnancy or in women who gave birth by Cesarean section.
A study on the hormones in the breast milk
Studies conducted by Katie Hinde, professor of Biology at the Harvard University, concluded that the hormones cause physiological reactions in the baby. The babies have their own internal hormones produced by their own glands but there are also some hormones transmitted from the mothers through the breast milk. These hormones attach themselves to the receptors babies brain.
Hinde conducted some of her experiments on macaques, studying the effects of the cortisol hormone. Cortisol is considered by many to be the stress hormone, although it plays many roles. Hinde discovered that the variation in the amount of cortisol found in the macaques’ milk, could help to predict how the macaques’ cubs will behave. The composition of the breast milk apparently shapes macaques cubs behavior. Hinde discovered that male cubs are more sensitive than females cubs to this behavioral changes. As there was more cortisol in the breast milk they fed with, the male macaque cubs were more adventurous and courageous.
In humans, latest researches suggest that mothers produce breast milk of higher fat content for baby boys than for girls. This discovery was not fully explained, but Hinde thinks that is not a matter of calories because babies who get a better fattier milk doesn’t eat more. Hinde explains this by recurring to her experiments on macaques.
During those experiments she noted that female cubs are forming a closer bond with their mothers that ends only when one of them dies, so it is possible that for this reason, mothers feed their female cubs more frequently, helping them to develop this close lifetime relationship.
Instead, males cubs are breastfed less often but with a fattier milk to assure the necessary calories and nutrients, thus giving them the freedom of spending more time playing with strangers and developing skills they will need later in their lives.
Breast milk composition varies depending on babies needs
People tend to think that breast milk is simply milk, containing nothing more than the cow milk, or goat milk, or any other milk they can buy from any supermarket. Scientists have concluded that milk varies, and the same is applicable for breast milk, too. Breast milk varies from mother to mother, and this is partly because babies themselves can affect what is found in milk.
Katie Hinde noted that, in humans, the bare skin contact seems to activate some signals that are transmitted through the breastfeeding process. It might sound paranormal, but it is a true fact that if a baby shows have an infection, for example, this is somehow transmitted to the mother, and her body is adjusting her breast milk’s levels of the necessary nutrients that help to improve the immune system of the baby.
This signals transmitted between the baby and the mother during breastfeeding were observed by researchers and this is why the way the science is treating the studying of breastmilk has changed enormously, lately. Scientists have ceased to see in breast milk only a simple babies food and they understand now that breast milk and, especially breastfeeding (skin to skin contact) play a much bigger role in babies physical, emotional, and mental developments.
This new perspective should change how we think about the milk formulas which are unsuccessfully trying to replicate the benefits of breast milk, especially breastfeeding. If in terms of nutrients, the milk formulas replicated the breast milk 1-on-1, in terms of emotional and baby-to-mother communication on the mental level, or even the spiritual level, they have failed.
So, 150 years after the first milk formula has been introduced on the market, which was supposed to be identical to the breast milk, the scientist decided that they do not know that much about the breast milk and it remains a mystery how are the breast milk and breastfeeding really work.
Foods that increase lactation
It was observed that the diversity of bacteria and hormones influences the breast milk, as it is also mentioned in a report published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Foods that increase lactation and offers great nutrients to babies, through the breast milk are:
Basil decoction: traditionally used to cure certain diseases, basil decoction is a good source of vitamin K, and it stimulates mammal glands.
Reddish vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets are rich in beta-carotene and other essential minerals necessary for mothers who breastfeed their babies.
Fennel seeds: studies have found out that the fennel seeds stimulate lactation, and fennel fruits are able to relieve from any kind of pain. Therefore, it is successfully used to relieve from abdominal colic in infants. Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of iron, vitamins, calcium, and minerals. Researchers have shown that these seeds are able to increase the secretion of breast milk in a very short time. Chickpeas, lentils, Lima beans, or green beans are commonly used to improve lactation.
Oatmeal: is recognized for its important role in the production of Oxytocin (an essential for lactation hormone).
Brussels sprouts: contain folic acid, which is essential to be consumed until you’ll stop breastfeeding your baby.
Remember that everything you eat will be transmitted to your baby through the breast milk. Nutritionists recommend quitting caffeine during breastfeeding but also quitting alcohol and tobacco for a healthy development of the breastfed baby. Certain foods you eat during breastfeeding may slightly change how your breast milk tastes. So, avoid eating onion, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, and leeks.
Also, mothers who breastfeed their babies should avoid:
- pumpkin because can cause dyspepsia
- cucumbers because it may cause diarrhea and stomach pain for babies
- red meat and animal fat which may contain pesticides or chemicals
- sweets and sugars which are rich in calories but low in nutrients
If you decide not to breastfeed your baby, do not go very hard on yourself, because milk formulas are a suitable food offering the necessary nutrients for your baby, but you’ll going to deprive your baby of the necessary emotional contact that occurs during breastfeeding.
Also, if you supplement your baby’s breast milk diet with milk formulas, does not mean that breastfeeding should be stopped.
The conclusion is that breastfeeding is a matter of choice for you, as a new mother, but you deserve to be informed on the things you didn’t know about breast milk before making a decision.
I am a young woman, a mother of two beautiful kids, and I am passionate about reading and writing. I am a flexible writer, with huge experience on topics related to health, babies and kids, lifestyle, fashion, IT&Tech, relationships, and world’s mysteries.
Armed with my articles as weapons against wrongness, I hope to help people living a better and healthier life, and I’ll always be a militant for justice, trying to teach people about what is good and what is wrong.