breastfeeding fun facts

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.

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down with babywise

December 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Babywise philosophy is bad for breastfeeding.  This is a fact.  Babies need to be fed when they present hunger signs, before they start crying, as often as they want.

Here’s a fantastic article by Lisa Marasco and Jan Barger about cue-feeding of breastfed infants, with specific references to where medical fact departs from Babywise philosophy.

The article is incredibly informative, but it’s long, so I’ll share with you a fun fact I learned.  Marasco and Barger state that

if a baby contracts an illness that mom has not been exposed to previously, he will transfer this organism through his saliva to the breast, where antibodies are manufactured on site and then sent back to baby via the milk to help him cope. Science does not come even close to duplicating this feat! Babies who are sick will often increase their nursing frequency, and researchers now believe that they do so not only for the comfort that it brings to a miserable little being, but also to increase the baby’s intake of antibodies and immune factors available through mother’s breast (Dettwyler, website). Babies seem to “know” when they have been exposed to a virus or bacteria, and know when they need to breastfeed more frequently to help them fight it off; most importantly, they sense it before parents realize that an illness is developing. There is no system in existence that is as sensitive and accurate as this one, and it is not under parental control.

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