Breastfeeding Facts: Everything You Need To Know
New and expecting mothers talk a lot about breastfeeding, and for good reason — it’s part of the amazing miracle of bringing a child into this world and the power of a woman’s body! But with so much information, it’s hard to separate breastfeeding facts from breastfeeding fiction.
Don’t worry! Here at Mustela, we’ve put together a list of 11 important breastfeeding facts to help you understand how breastfeeding nourishes your baby, helps to keep both of you healthy, and reinforces the bond between you and your little one.
Ready to learn? Let’s take a look!
11 Important Breastfeeding Facts
1) Breast Milk Provides Perfect Nutrition For Your Baby
Not only does your breast milk provide all the nutrients your baby needs, but it also contains the perfect quantities and is more easily digested than formula or cow’s milk.
The American Pregnancy Association says, “Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates. There is nothing better for the health of your baby.”
When it comes to vitamins, just remember that the amount of vitamins in your breast milk is affected by what you eat. That’s one of the reasons that a healthy breastfeeding diet is so important!
2) Your Body Produces Colostrum Before Breast Milk
Even before that nutrient-rich breast milk comes along, your body produces something called colostrum.
In the first couple of days after your baby’s birth, your breasts produce this thick, yellow fluid chock-full of minerals, proteins, and antibodies for your newborn.
3) Breastfeeding Boosts Your Baby’s Immune System
Breast milk provides so many benefits for your baby! Did you know that it boosts your baby’s immunity and can help keep them from getting sick?
All of the antibodies and other goodies in breast milk help to equip your little one’s body to fight off ailments like respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and other illnesses.
The United States Office On Womens’ Health (womenshealth.gov) says, “Breastfeeding lowers the risk of ear infections, diarrhea, and stomach problems.”
4) Breastfeeding Is Good For Your Child’s Long-Term Health
Not only will breastfeeding help keep your baby healthy right now, but it’s also good for their long-term health and development. The benefits of breastfeeding can be seen well into childhood.
Little ones who are breastfed have a lower risk of childhood conditions and diseases like diabetes, asthma, and obesity.
5) Breastfeeding Is Ideal Bonding Time
You might not think about it when you’re nursing your little one, but it’s a special bonding moment between the two of you!
First of all, newborn babies can only clearly see things that are about a foot away. When you nurse, your face is within that range and your baby is able to take a good look at you!
But that’s not the only reason that breastfeeding is a special time for you and your baby. It also provides a perfect opportunity for skin-to-skin contact, which is important for your baby right after birth as well as all throughout their infancy.
This contact comforts your little one and reinforces the parent-child bond.
In addition to nursing, what are some other ways to be sure to get skin-to-skin contact every day? Give your little one a baby massage, bathe your baby, or simply let them lie on your bare chest (tummy time, anyone?).
If you give your baby a massage, be sure to use a moisturizing, hypoallergenic, and gentle baby oil, like Mustela’s Baby Oil, to create a soothing and comforting experience.
Our protective oil is composed of 99% plant-based ingredients and enriched with an elixir of pomegranate seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and avocado oil. And you can rest assured that it’s free of parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol.
6) Breastfeeding Reduces Your Risk Of Breast And Ovarian Cancer
Breastfeeding is healthy for your baby both now and in the long run and the same goes for you!
Breastfeeding can help you get your pre-baby body back (we’ll talk about that next), but the really big news is that breastfeeding reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life!
How does breastfeeding do that? The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this:
“One reason may be that when a woman is breastfeeding, she experiences hormonal changes that may delay the return of her menstrual periods. This reduces her lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen, which are linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.”
7) Breastfeeding Helps You Get Back To Your Pre-Baby Body
In more ways than one, breastfeeding helps you get your pre-baby body back — both inside and out.
As far as losing your baby weight, The United States Office On Womens’ Health (womenshealth.gov) says that “Breastfeeding may also help you to lose weight. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed can burn as many as 600 calories a day, which may help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.”
How does breastfeeding help you get back to your pre-baby body on the inside? A hormone called oxytocin is released when you breastfeed and helps your uterus return to its smaller, pre-baby size.
8) Your Breast Milk Is Healing
Dabbing a bit of breast milk onto sore or cracked nipples might seem like an old wives tale, but it’s not!
According to The United States Office On Womens’ Health (womenshealth.gov), “Breastmilk is filled with special components that help fight infection and cut down on swelling in the breast.”
To take advantage of your milk’s antibacterial properties, gently apply a few drops of breastmilk to your nipples after feeding your baby, then let them air-dry.
Applying Mustela’s Nursing Comfort Balm is another way to naturally care for your nipples! This lanolin-free balm moisturizes and protects nipples, eases discomfort, and helps to replenish and restore skin during and after breastfeeding.
Made with 100% naturally derived ingredients, our fragrance-free balm has a neutral smell and taste, won't stain your clothing, and is safe for both you and your little one.
9) Breastfeeding Is Recommended For The First 6 Months
As we’ve seen, breastfeeding is great for both mama and baby! It’s the ideal way to feed your little one for the first few months of their life.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommend exclusively breastfeeding for at least the first six months of your baby’s life.
Your little one can start trying solid food around six months old, but that doesn’t mean breastfeeding has to stop! Breastfeeding can continue as long as you wish.
10) Breastfeeding Is Eco-Friendly And Economical
In addition to being healthy for you and your baby, there’s no doubt that breastfeeding is eco-friendly and economical, too.
When you nurse instead of purchasing formula, you’re saving money as well as cutting out the manufacturing that goes into formula and the packaging that ends up in the landfill.
If you’re as invested as we are in eco-friendly living, check out this article that lists eco-friendly baby products. Between skin care, feeding, and toys, it’s got you covered!
11) Finding The Right Breastfeeding Position Is Important
For some mother-baby pairs, breastfeeding comes as naturally as breathing. Other moms and babies struggle to get the hang of it.
For any mother, one of the most challenging aspects can be finding the right breastfeeding position. Why is the right position so important?
If you and your little one aren’t in a good position, your baby might not latch onto your nipple correctly. That could mean that your baby won’t get enough milk.
A poor latch can also make breastfeeding uncomfortable for you and put you at risk for soreness or cracking.
Experiment with some of the common breastfeeding positions to see what works best for you and helps your baby latch on without a problem. Also, don’t hesitate to talk to a lactation consultant about any breastfeeding concerns you might have!
Know The Breastfeeding Facts
Knowing the most important breastfeeding facts can help you make informed decisions about nursing and caring for your little one. But it’s not just that!
Having all the facts can help you take care of your own body as it works tirelessly to support both you and your new baby!
Care for your breastfeeding baby with lots of love and skin-to-skin contact. And care for yourself by having plenty of patience for the difficult breastfeeding days and using Nursing Comfort Balm to soothe your sore nipples.
Breastfeeding isn’t always a walk in the park, but it’s great for you and your baby. And with a little extra attention and TLC, you can both enjoy all the benefits that breastfeeding has to offer!