18 Surprising Facts About Breastfeeding
There’s a reason we call breastmilk 'liquid gold'—it is an incredible substance that nourishes, adapts to baby’s needs, and protects against illness. Here are some breastfeeding facts that are quite surprising!
Facts about Breastfeeding Rates
1. 73.1% of mothers start out breastfeeding according to the National Health Service.
2. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, but less than a quarter (17%) of babies are still being exclusively breastfed to 3 months.
3. Contrary to the RCPCH, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends continuing breastfeeding until 2 years of age.
4. By the time they are 6 months old, only 34% of babies are receiving some breastmilk.
5. Among high-income countries, Sweden has one of the highest rates of breastfeeding at 98%!! This could be due to the most generous parental leave policies in the world.
6. It is legal to breastfeed in public in the UK!
Facts about Breastmilk
7. In the first few days after birth, breasts produce colostrum: Nutrient-rich milk full of calcium, proteins, minerals, and antibodies that babies need in their first few days of life.
8. Breastmilk is amazingly adaptable! If you or your baby are sick, the number of antibodies and white blood cells in your breastmilk increase to fight off infection. Talk about cool!
9. Yawnnnn…..Breastmilk makes babies sleepy! Towards the end of the day, breastmilk contains more serotonin—a hormone that helps babies sleep.
10. Eat a lot of garlic one day and feel like you can smell it in your milk? Diet can change the smell and taste of your breastmilk—you may find babies have a preference, too!
Facts about Breastfeeding Parents
11. Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories—somewhere between 400 and 600 per day—no wonder you are so hungry!
12. Your brain is on your side. While you are breastfeeding, your brain releases prolactin and oxytocin (the 'feel good' hormones) which help you bond with baby.
13. Parents who successfully breastfeed are less likely to be diagnosed with postpartum depression… maybe because of all those feel-good hormones!
14. Another healthy benefit: People who breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer.
Facts about Breastfed Babies
15. A newborn can only see .2 to .4 metres away from his face, meaning he can see you while he is nursing. Talk about bonding!
16. Babies have a well-developed sense of smell and know their mama’s specific breastmilk scent. That is why she will turn her head to you when hungry.
17. It has been shown in studies that breastfed babies are less likely to get ear, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
18. When a baby is going through a growth spurt, she will want to nurse more frequently—your breasts will take the hint by increasing the fat content.
Bonus fact: In cultures like the !Kung San of South Africa, mothers traditionally nurse babies 50-100 times a day!
What fact did you find most astonishing?
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.