December 17, 2010 § 5 Comments
Today’s fun facts come from Anne Smith’s excellent website Breastfeeding Basics.
1. Breastmilk is living tissue that changes to meet your baby’s nutritional needs, and to protect him against disease. The fat content of human milk varies month to month, day to day, and even hour to hour. For example, the milk produced for a premature infant is higher in protein and calories than milk produced for a full-term infant, giving the tiny baby what he needs to catch up on growth. In cold climates, human milk contains more fat — in warm climates, more water. If your baby is very hungry, he nurses more vigorously and receives more fatty hind milk. If he is just thirsty, he feeds more leisurely and receives a lower calorie milk. As he gets older, the fat content of the milk will gradually decrease because his growth will slow, and he will need fewer calories per pound of weight.
2. Breastfed babies score an average of 8 points higher on IQ tests than formula-fed babies, and this seems to hold true even when things like parent’s educational and socio-economic backgrounds are factored in.
3. Breastfeeding suppresses ovulation and delays the return of fertility. In mothers who exclusively breastfeed (no bottles, unrestricted nursing day and night, and no solids before six months), breastfeeding is about 95% – 98% effective as a birth control method.
4. The hormone prolactin that is released when you nurse is called “the mothering hormone,” and helps you relax. When researchers feed it to laboratory mice, (even males), they start building nests and doing motherly things. It really is a powerful hormone, and many mothers report that even when they are extremely stressed, they feel a rush of relaxation when their milk lets down.
5. Breastmilk contains antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antprotozoal factors as well as antibodies to many specific disease organisms. Breastfed babies have a lower incidence of infection, anemia, diarrhea, meningitis, diabetes, gastroenteritis, asthma, constipation, allergies, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, dental and speech problems, childhood cancer, pulmonary disease, cataracts, high cholesterol, and many more. Artificially fed babies are three to four times as likely as bottle-fed infants to suffer from ear infections and lower respiratory infections, and sixteen times more likely to be sick during the first two months of life.