When it comes to caring for your newborn infant, there’s nothing better than breast milk. Also known as liquid gold, breast milk contains all the nutrients essential to your baby’s physical and mental development. This is not the only advantage breast milk offers.
Here are a few facts you may not have known earlier:
The composition of breast milk is constantly changing
The first milk expressed by a mother’s breasts is known as colostrum. This milk contains a high concentration of vitamin E, zinc and other such nutrients but is easier to digest. This is followed by transitional milk and then by mature milk. From here on the nutrient levels and calories in breast milk change almost every week to keep up with your baby’s needs.
Breastmilk boosts immunity
Apart from providing nutrition to your baby, breast milk also helps your baby fight against infections. Colostrum contains up to 5 million white blood cells per millilitre. This concentration reduces as your baby grows but even 6 months after delivery, breast milk contains around 100,000 white blood cells per millilitre. If you and your baby are unwell, the white blood cell count increases to help fight the disease. Apart from immunity for your baby, did you know that many mothers use breast milk to treat cracked nipples and burns too!
Breast milk influences your baby’s palate
Every mother’s breast milk has a unique scent that can be identified by a baby. Milk usually tastes sweet and a little nutty but the flavour is further influenced by whatever you eat. The flavour of the food you eat – sweet, salty or spicy, influences the taste of your breast milk for up to 8 hours after you’ve eaten it. This, in turn, influences your baby’s palate when they start consuming solid food.
Breast milk makes a baby sleepy
After a satiating feed, your baby may nod off to sleep. One of the reasons for this is the serotonin levels in breast milk. This is a hormone that is responsible for making babies sleepy. It is interesting to note that the serotonin levels in breast milk increase towards the end of the day. The timing of this increase in serotonin also helps your baby develop a circadian rhythm.
Breast milk contains stem cells
Stem cells are an important component of breast milk that does not get talked about often. These cells have the capability of evolving into many other types of cells such as bone cells, liver cells, fat cells and even brain cells. It isn’t surprising to note that medical researchers consider stem cells to be akin to gold dust.
Breast milk reduces the risk of obesity
Obesity is quickly becoming a major among children. Studies have shown that children who were breastfed as infants have a lower risk of becoming obese when they grow older as compared to infants fed on formula. This is because breast milk contains the perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients and because breastfed babies have a reduced tendency to overeat.
Breast milk can relieve pain
Breastfeeding has the potential to relieve your baby’s pain during procedures such as drawing blood for a blood test. One reason, of course, is the skin to skin contact between mother and child during this exercise. Another reason breastfeeding can relieve pain is because breast milk is believed to trigger the production of endorphins in your baby’s body.
Breast milk is like a personalized beverage for your baby. It’s the ideal food for your baby’s nutritional needs, immunity and health in the future. But, unfortunately, some mothers find it difficult to produce sufficient breast milk. If you’re facing such a problem, don’t look at formula as your only option; a better choice would be to look for donor milk. Donor milk is breast milk donated by other lactating mothers and is as safe and nutritious for your baby as your own breast milk.