I recently reached the six-month mark in my breastfeeding journey. It was a big day because there was a time when I didn’t think I would make six days. Somewhere between sleep deprivation, a bout of mastitis and a tongue-tied infant, I almost gave up a number of times. Fortunately I persevered and I’m so thankful that I did. From those middle-of-the-night feeds, when it felt as though Baby Boo and I were literally the only people in the world, to those special moments when she paused mid way to smile at me, I feel truly privileged to have experienced this relationship with her. But it’s not just the sense of bonding that I’ve found enchanting. From its ability to treat eye infections to being a new mum’s miracle calorie burner, breast milk really is magical. So, in honour of World Breastfeeding Week, I’ve put together a list the colossal benefits, and a few quirky facts, I’ve discovered about mother’s milk.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #1: It’s a calorie burner
The reported kilo-shedding effect of nursing is not a myth. Of course, you can’t expect breastfeeding to be your golden ticket to a summer beach body (that’s what your post-pregnancy exercise regime is for), but it is true that most breastfeeding mothers burn between 300-500 calories a day, so it does help with the post-baby body blitz.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #2: It’s instinctual
When babies come into the world they seem so helpless and lost, but what’s really amazing is that when held skin-to-skin, newborns instantly push and fight their way to mum’s breast and start feeding all by their little selves. Talk about the strength of the human spirit.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #3: Unique aroma
Newborn babies are extremely nearsighted and anything further than about eight to 15 inches away appears blurry to them. Fortunately, they have an amazing sense of smell and because each woman’s breast milk has its own scent, a breastfed baby can literally identify their mummy in a room full of people, based on that aroma.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #4: White gold
A quick scoot through Google shows us that human breast milk is a valuable commodity. The Associated Press reports that human milk ‘could trade for 400 times more than the price of crude oil’. Meanwhile, breast milk also sells for 150 times more than cow’s milk and 15 times more than coffee.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #5: Milk medicine
From sore nipples, to cradle cap, sore throats and pinkeye, breast milk has a multitude of homeopathic uses. That said, it’s always important to check with your family doctor if you have any medical concerns.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #6: Your body knows what to do
One of the most impressive things about breast milk is that it adapts depending on your baby’s needs. The key is in your baby’s saliva, which literally communicates with the body to let it know which minerals and vitamins your baby is lacking. I don’t know about you, but I find that mind blowing!
Fascinating facts about breast milk #7: It’s an immunity booster
Breast milk is jam-packed with antibodies that help boost your baby’s immune system. As well as warding off the common cold, it also helps lower risks of catching sicknesses and diseases later in life.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #8: It’s the ultra relaxant
Taking care of a new baby can be stressful, but nursing actually triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps you and your bub to chill out. So even if you’re feeling frazzled, a quick feed should help you find your inner Zen.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #9: Are you a righty or a lefty?
It’s perfectly normal for one breast to produce more milk than the other and it usually comes down to anatomical differences and baby’s preference for one side. If you’re a righty, you’re one of the majority as three-quarters of women lactate more on their right side.
Fascinating facts about breast milk #10: It gets easier
As a breastfeeding mum it’s my job to tell you that while nursing is an incredibly bonding and rewarding experience, it can also be challenging in the early days. Don’t be surprised if you’re driven to the brink in a haze of nipple creams and breast pads. But it’s important to remember to hang in there mamas… it definitely gets easier.