World Breastfeeding Week: 5 things you probably didn't know if you've never breastfed
Being pregnant and breastfeeding shifted something in me in the way I view my own body.
As if being pregnant didn't blow me away enough with just how amazing the female body is - being able to actually grow a brand new human - giving birth and then breastfeeding just cemented that observation for me.
Breastfeeding my babies was, once we got going, such a lovely experience, and I remember just watching them feed and literally marvelling at the fact that my body was making them the most very perfect food they needed.
My boobs, which are the part of my body I have always had the most ambivalent relationship with, I think, were now the single most important part of me - to my baby, at least. And it fascinated me how my body just knew it now had a job to do. So in tune with the baby were my boobs that they even started to leak milk the minute she would start to cry – knowing, it seemed, that milk would serve as an instant comforter.
In fact, so hard-working were my boobs that they even started leaking at random when other people's babies cried. Yup - it's true.
And it didn't even stop there. Here are five more amazing facts about breastfeeding you might not know yet:
1. Your boobs keep upping their game
Your body is constantly making the perfect milk for your baby. Milk changes its composition as baby grows (milk made for a 3-month-old is different than for a 9-month-old). Breastmilk can even change day-to-day. For example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.
As well as this, white blood cells known as leukocytes, which help to protect against infection, increase dramatically in mum’s milk supply when her baby is sick.
2. Your boobs are a built-in thermometer
Did you know your breasts can detect even a one-degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed? This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial.
3. Breastfeeding helps you recover from labour quicker
Breastfeeding your baby helps you heal faster in the postpartum, helping the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster and lowering overall postpartum blood loss. It also helps with post-partum weight loss, as it takes over 500 calories a day on average to produce those golden drops.
4. Your milk helps your baby sleep better
Human milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies (who doesn’t love that?). As well as this, breastfeeding also calms mama and helps her bond with her baby. Also, studies have shown that breastfeeding mums get on average 45 minutes more sleep every night compared to those who formula feed.
5. You need to eat 500 extra calories a day when you are breastfeeding
Producing breast milk is hard work for your body, mama - in fact, it consumes a whopping 25 percent of the body’s energy - in comparison, the brain only uses 20 percent. How's that for hard-working boobs?!