August is national breastfeeding month. Last week, to celebrate world breastfeeding week, I shared some of my favourite breastfeeding facts on instagram. I thought that as instagram is transient and fast moving, I wanted to give my 3 favourite, mind blowing facts about breastfeeding a more permanent home on this journal.
Not nearly enough people know about the mind blowing magic of breastmilk. The month of August and especially the first week, is aimed at highlighting the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to the health and welfare of babies and benefits to maternal health.
1. Breastmilk is Alive
Breast milk is a living substance that contains healthy bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells, antimicrobials and live cells, including stem cells, which go on to become other body cell types like brain, heart, kidney, or bone tissue.
Your breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your growing baby. From month-to-month, throughout the week, day-to-day, and even throughout a single feeding.
Bacteria from your body also transfers through your milk to help your baby establish his or her own gut flora and immune system. The precise microbial makeup changes from day to day and season to season.
2. Mama baby body Language
Our bodies are constantly in silent communication with one another. Adjusting and adapting to meet our baby’s needs.
Your breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in your baby’s body temperature. They can adjust accordingly to warm up or cool down your baby as needed. In fact, the breasts of a twin mama holding one baby on each breast will adjust independently to maintain each baby’s temperature.
When you kiss your baby, you are sampling the pathogens on their skin. These are then transferred to your lymphatic system where you will produce antibodies to any relevant bugs. These antibodies will then pass through your breast milk to your baby and boost their immune system.
When a baby suckles at the breast, sensory impulses pass from the nipple to the brain. In response, the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland secretes prolactin and the posterior lode secretes oxytocin. Your letdown reflex can be triggered by hearing, smelling or even thinking about your baby.
3. The backwash Effect
The third and final mind blowing breastfeeding fact I want to share with you is some magic that goes on behind the scenes of breastfeeding…The Backwash Effect.Another incredible way mama and baby’s bodies communicate with one another. Your body can write up the perfect prescription for your baby and deliver it on cue!
When your baby breastfeeds their saliva is sucked back into the nipple. Their saliva contains valuable information about your babes immune status so your body can adjust the breastmilk’s immunological composition.
When breastfed babies get sick, they are often able to recover more quickly because the mother’s body produces antibodies that are specific to the baby’s needs. So mama, your body can write up and deliver the perfect prescription of immune fighting antibody goodness straight to your baby without a diagnosis.
Supporting new mamas nutritionally through their postpartum period and the fourth trimester, allows them to support their baby. As well as helping them maintain their own strength and vitality. Delivering new mums nourishing food is the perfect way to show your support. In fact, I think the primary marker of breastfeeding success is support. Consider delivering some meals from the village for mama book or even a batch of the village for mama little loaded lactation cookies. If you want to learn more about nourishing foods to support breastfeeding, read all about it here.
love leila x