Breast milk is undoubtedly the best food for a baby: it’s always “at hand”, its temperature is right, it’s sterile, delicious and, of course, useful. But this is not the full list of its advantages.
We offer you some interesting facts about breast milk that can be a serious argument in favor of long-term breastfeeding.
In the daytime composition of breast milk differs from the one at night
The composition of breast milk is constantly changed depending on a baby’s age, the time of day, even on the way the little one was born (natural childbirth or Caesarean section). All this is programmed by the Nature for the milk to meet the child’s needs the best way at a given time or a period of life. At night, the milk is fatter and more nutritious, and during the daytime it is “lighter”. In summer breast milk contains more water than in winter. If a baby is premature, his mom’s milk is already adapted to such a vulnerable little one’s needs.
As a baby grows this is bacteria content, which is changed greatly (by the way, there are over 700 different bacteria in it). Scientists still do not know the exact reasons for this change and suggest that it affects positively a baby’s immunity.
Breast milk is useful for a baby but not for an adult
A baby can stimulate production of breast milk on his own by irritating the nipples with his tongue. And if he is hungry and sucks quickly, breasts produce milk faster. And no wonder he tries so hard: moms’ milk always contains a lot of extremely useful things for him such as antibodies, iron, calcium, vitamins, etc., and no matter how much time he is already breastfed – 1 month or 1 year. But for adults breast milk is almost useless – their gastrointestinal tract is not able to process it. So, experimenting with baking muffins or making ice-cream of breast milk, which is so trendy now, is absolutely groundless.
Mom doesn’t have to eat something special to make her milk healthier
Breasts produce high-quality milk regardless of how well a nursing moms, what the conditions of her life are, and moreover, even a very strict diet doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding.
And a mother doesn’t need to think of the kind of foods she must eat to saturate her milk with calcium, for example. As soon as a baby’s teeth start appearing, breast milk is magically enriched with essential elements. And when a little one begins to intensively explore the world and needs proteins, which will provide him with the desired level of physical activity, the proteins will surely appear in the milk.
Colostrum is magical food
Right after the childbirth, mom’s breast produce colostrum, its amount is very small, no more than a teaspoon, but because a newborn’s stomach is tiny (its volume is about 7 ml), 2 ml of this liquid are enough to saturate and immunize his body. Numerous hormones of a certain kind, bacteria and antibodies contained in breast milk are something like the first vaccination, which protects an infant from allergies, fills his gastrointestinal tract with a necessary microflora. An interesting fact is that the composition of colostrum is changed throughout the entire three days of its production.
Moreover, colostrum is significantly thicker than milk and it flows very slowly, for a baby, “inexperienced” in the affairs of feeding, to eat enough. When the child masters the rhythm of sucking, colostrum will be replaced by milk, which flows faster.
Breast milk has a sweet taste for a short time
So, after a baby eats colostrum for three days breast milk becomes less dense, lighter, it is produced in large amounts, and most importantly, its composition is changed. It contains more sugar and fat and less protein. A baby isn’t yet so active and doesn’t need proteins so much, and their surplus is even harmful. But proteins as well as a certain amount of carbohydrates and fats contained in the so called ”transitional” milk are necessary to help a little on to adapt to the outside world and grow up a bit.
Two weeks after delivery the milk turns into a balanced diet
Two weeks after childbirth not only appearance of the breast milk (it becomes even more liquid and lighter), but also its composition is changed. It contains less fats (about 4%), but they are different – one part is saturated and another one is polyunsaturated. They are involved in nervous system development and give the body energy.
A baby eats absolutely complete meal, which gives him everything he needs – proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, trace elements.
Breast milk is produced around the clock
Breasts are made up of special glandular tissue, which has a plurality of channels. On their walls there are special cells that produce milk during lactation. And they do it around the clock without any break. The milk is produced under the influence of hormones and reflexes. During pregnancy, hormonal changes begin in a woman’s body; as a result breasts are prepared to produce milk and grow in size at the same time.
When a baby is born, the hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced in lesser amounts, but the amount of prolactin, which stimulates milk production, is increased. Thyroid hormones do not remain without a work as well: they are responsible for production of the additional energy required for the secretion of milk.
Oxytocin causes milk flow
Reflexes always work while a baby is sucking breast, and the hormone oxytocin is produced, which stimulates the production and flow of the right amount of milk into the breasts. A woman at this time is feeling a sort of tingling in the breasts, and then she feels the milk flowing. By the way, it is oxytocin that causes pain in the uterine a new mom feels when breastfeeding. This hormone makes the uterus contract.
The amount of milk doesn’t depend on the size of breasts
The only difference is that between feedings lesser amount of milk will be stored in small breasts than in large ones. But there’s a way out of this situation: breastfeed your baby more often.