Unleashing the Power of Breastfeeding: A Guide to the Astonishing Benefits for Babies and Mothers
Breastfeeding is a remarkable process that provides numerous benefits to both the mother and the baby. Here are some amazing facts that you may not have known about breastfeeding:
- Baby’s Saliva is Absorbed:
When a woman breastfeeds, the baby’s saliva is absorbed back into the mother’s breast, providing the mother’s body with information about the baby’s health. This allows the mother’s milk to adjust accordingly. For example, if the baby has a cold, the amount of infection-busting cells in the mother’s milk increases.
- Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower risk of postpartum depression in mothers:
This is believed to be due to the release of hormones during breastfeeding, such as oxytocin, that can improve mood and help the mother feel more relaxed and calm.Studies have found that this release of oxytocin has a temporary calming effect on postpartum maternal mood disturbances, acting as an anxiolytic. The hormone oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” and is released during many different positive social interactions, including childbirth and breastfeeding. This release of oxytocin is thought to contribute to the bonding between a mother and her baby, and may also play a role in reducing the risk of postpartum depression.
- Milk Composition Varies by Baby’s Gender:
Research has shown that the composition of a mother’s breast milk may vary depending on the baby’s gender. Mothers who have female offspring produce more milk, while mothers with male offspring produce milk that is richer in fat.
- Regulates Baby’s Sleep:
Breast milk is known to contain sleep hormones, such as melatonin and tryptophan, that regulate the baby’s sleep. Studies have found that melatonin levels in breast milk are higher at night, on average, nearly five times higher.
- Contains Stem Cells:
Scientists have discovered that human breast milk contains stem cells, which are the building blocks of life and can turn into a variety of tissues. In laboratory experiments, scientists have been able to extract stem cells from human breast milk and grow organ-like blobs that produce milk.
- A recent study has revealed that delaying the bath of a newborn can increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding. The study found that waiting to bathe a healthy newborn for at least 12 hours after birth, instead of bathing them within the first few hours, increases the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding during the newborn’s hospital stay.
- Lowers the Risk of Chronic Diseases:
Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, in both the mother and the baby.
- A recent study has shown that the pain responses in infants are reduced by the odor of their own mother’s milk, but not by the odor of milk from other mothers or formula milk.
This suggests that the soothing effect of maternal milk odor only occurs when it is from the baby’s own mother. The reason behind this interesting phenomenon is not yet understood, but it highlights the unique relationship between a mother and her baby through the power of scent.
- Improved Cognitive Development :
Breastfeeding has also been linked to improved cognitive development in infants and children. Several studies have found a correlation between breastfeeding and higher IQ scores, as well as better performance on developmental and cognitive tests in early childhood and later in life. One of the main theories behind this connection is the idea that breast milk contains important nutrients, such as fatty acids, that are crucial for brain development. Breastmilk is also thought to have a unique composition that can support brain growth and function, and may also provide protection against certain infections that can negatively impact cognitive development.
- Supports Healthy Gut Bacteria:
Breastfeeding also supports the development of healthy gut bacteria in infants and young children. The unique composition of breast milk provides essential nutrients and growth factors that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
This gut microbiome, as it is known, plays a crucial role in a variety of functions, including digestion, metabolism, and the overall health and well-being of the individual.
A healthy gut microbiome is important for protecting against infections and promoting a strong immune system.
Research suggests that the gut microbiome established during infancy can have long-term effects on health and well-being, influencing conditions such as obesity, allergies, and even mental health.
Breastfeeding is not just about providing nourishment for a baby. It is a complex and dynamic process that offers a wide range of benefits for both the mother and the child.