Breastfeeding can be easy for some, and challenging for others or may not be the optimal feeding choice for some families. Whilst we support new mothers and their choice on how to feed their babies, this week from 1 to 7 August is Breastfeeding Week, so we would like to share some facts that you may not already know:
- Breastfeeding is a learned process for you and your baby. Whilst babies practice sucking in-utero, and are born with primitive reflexes to help them locate the nipple, they too have to work out how this all works.
- Breast milk produced for boys and girls is different. Your body knows which gender you are feeding and produces on demand the appropriate type- even if you are feeding twins!
- Mothers exposed to a virus produce antibodies into her breastmilk. Within 60 minutes of a breastfeeding mother being exposed to a virus, she produces antibodies into her milk, making babies less susceptible to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections even with such close and regular contact with their mothers. Exclusively breastfed babies have 60% less admission to hospital in the first 6 months of life.
- Maternal health & wellbeing. Breast feeding protects mothers against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. Lower postnatal depression rates are shown in mothers who breastfeed.
- A baby’ stomach is the size of a marble at birth. Colostrum (the first milk you produce) is highly concentrated to accommodate for this tiny space. 1ml of colostrum equals an hour’s worth of energy for a baby.
- Your breast milk recipe changes depending on what stage of life your baby is in. Every time your baby has a growth spurt and feeds more frequently it changes the recipe to meet its new demands. Around 4 weeks of age as your baby enters a stage of rapid bone growth, your breast milk adds extra magnesium, calcium and Vitamin D.
- Breast milk adjusts for the climate. On a hot humid day, your breast milk will be more dilute and on a cold wintery night its fat content increases.
- Breastfeeding produces a hormone that naturally makes you feel drowsy and return to sleep. So sleep while your baby sleeps is actually an invention of Mother Nature rather than just an expression.
- 97% of women can physiologically breastfeed a baby. Australian breastfeeding rates show 96% of women initiate breastfeeding, this declines to 39% by four months are exclusively breastfed and 15% by six months. This identifies women need support, education, guidance and advise, our midwives are here to support you.
The Hatch midwives can help you with breastfeeding at your postnatal appointments – please just ask us if you need some advice as we are happy to help.