Whether you’re a mother-to-be or a mother of three, you have probably heard the famous phrase countless times that “Breast is Best.” Breastfeeding is the most natural way of bonding with a newborn. Though breastfeeding can be painful, it is a rewarding experience being able to provide the needs of a baby and witnessing its healthy development. Here are some facts to consider to prepare a new mama in the journey of motherhood.
1. Breast milk is liquid gold
Colostrum, also known as liquid gold, is a milky fluid that is produced right after giving birth. It varies from woman to woman, where in some cases colostrum starts to produce as early as in the first trimester. In the early days immediately after giving birth, the mother only produces colostrum and is the first thing the baby will consume. Colostrum contains white blood cells and antibodies that protect your baby from infectious diseases. This also prepares the baby for consuming breast milk and eating solid foods. There are unique substances in colostrum that are a natural source for the proper growth of the newborn’s body. It is packed with nutrients that promote growth and strengthen the newborn’s immune system.
2. It’s sugary sweet
Breast milk is composed of 200 different sugar molecules which are also called human milk oligosaccharides. This helps the development of good gut bacteria that protects newborns from infections. As for its taste, it’s commonly compared to sweetened almond milk.
3. Improves overall health
Breastfeeding can help improve both the mother and the baby’s overall health. This reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Babies who are breastfed have lower chances of developing a disease as they grow older.
4. Breast milk has a variety of tastes and colors
Breast milk exposes a baby to different tastes. The milk will taste slightly similar to what food the mother eats, which the baby can taste. This early exposure can help parents introduce solid foods, especially vegetables, during their toddler years. This does not guarantee that your baby will love all the carrots you eat once they can eat solid food but it’s worth a try. Though the influence in breast milk’s flavor is minimal, it’s enough to enhance your baby’s palate. Depending on what the mother eats or drinks, breast milk can also change colors. It can vary from neutral colors such as white, yellow, or bright colors such as pink and orange.
5. Breastfeeding can save money
The more breast milk a mother can produce, the more it can significantly save you money. Formula milk and milk bottles come with a hefty price tag. With breastfeeding, it gives you an allowance to spend on other necessities and eliminates the hassle of finding the right kind of formula to buy. Apart from cost-efficiency, it is also convenient to breastfeed as it does not require much preparation, need for clean water, or expensive baby bottles.
6. Herbal teas that help produce breast milk
While it may be cost-effective to breastfeed, not all women experience the same luck in breastfeeding. Some mothers struggle with low milk supply due to certain factors, such as stress and menstruation which decreases the production of breast milk. The good news is that there are teas that contain herbs, such as fennel which has substances that help increase milk production. It is best to research which herbal teas are right for you and always consult your doctor before taking this type of treatment.
7. Contributes to weight loss
Depending on the frequency and duration of feeding, breastfeeding can burn about 600 to 1,000 calories per day. Mothers who breastfeed tend to be more conscious in eating healthy to provide more nutrients for their babies, which can also contribute to weight loss. It is recommended for nursing mothers to consume an extra 500 calories per day to make up for the calories burned during breastfeeding. A nursing mother can lose weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per month and even return to their pre-pregnancy weight.
8. Helpful hormones
Hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin are released during breastfeeding. Prolactin helps increase milk production which can lead the baby to consume more milk. The more the baby consumes, the more prolactin is released, hence more milk is produced. Oxytocin, also known as the “letdown reflex” causes the release of breast milk and continuous flow of milk which makes breastfeeding easier. This hormone also causes a relaxing sensation which promotes healthy sleep for the mother.
9. Has healing properties
In the early days of breastfeeding, it can be a struggle for the mother to comfortably breastfeed their baby. The nipples tend to be swollen and painful during the first couple of weeks but can eventually heal. Breast milk contains healing properties that help soothe the pain in the mother’s nipples. Squeezing out a few drops of breast milk and applying it to a swollen nipple or broken skin are some of the home remedies. However, if the pain persists more than a week and continues to bleed, it’s important to seek an evaluation from your doctor.
10. Promotes bonding time between mother and newborn
Mothers with newborns are sleep-deprived and understandably stressed, therefore breastfeeding can help alleviate that. Due to its relaxing properties, oxytocin is being released while breastfeeding, which helps a nursing mother sleep better. It also reduces anxiety which can help improve the mother’s mental health. The skin to skin contact required during breastfeeding creates a strong psychological connection, allowing the baby and the mother to bond well.