To celebrate National Breastfeeding Week (18-27 June), we've gathered ten surprising and cool facts about breastfeeding. Did you know that it has long-term benefits for the baby, lasting right into adulthood? Or that it helps a mum heal faster after the birth and even helps her get back to her pre-baby weight?
Celebrities such as Tamara Ecclestone, Sam Faiers and Gisele Bundchen have in recent years become advocates for breastfeeding and it has become a recurrent and popular topic amongst women. Here are our top facts:
- Breastfeeding reduces your baby's risk of infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukaemia, type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also reduces the risk of cavities later on and may lower the chance they will need braces as kids.
- Breastfeeding and making breast milk also has health benefits for the mum. Breastfeeding lowers your risk of illneses such as breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity. The longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits.
- Breast milk adapts as the baby grows to meet the baby's changing needs.
- On average, babies remove 67% of the milk that is available—they eat until they are full, not until the breast is emptied.
- Your baby can smell you. Newborns have a strong sense of smell and know the unique scent of their mother's breast milk.
- Breastfeeding exposes your baby to many different tastes. Through your breast milk, your baby eventually gets a slight taste of whatever you eat, although not directly. This will later make introducing solid foods easier.
- Breastfeeding can save a family more than £1,000 in formula-related expenses in a baby's first year alone.
- Breast milk has healing powers: It contains antibodies that defend your baby against infections. A few drops of breastmilk can also soothe a newborn's diaper rash or sore throat, treat acne, and help alleviate eye and ear infections. Also, if your breasts are sore those first few days, gently massaging some of your milk into your nipples and breasts can soothe the soreness and speed up recovery.
- Your breasts can leak even if you're just thinking about your baby or you hear another baby cry. Remember to wear nursing pads, and know you might be sleeping in a bra for a while!
- Studies have shown that baby boys drink more breastmilk per day, on average, than girls.