5 Unbelievable Facts About Breastfeeding

This guest post by Erica Johnson from Inner Parents highlights five facts about breastfeeding that are sure to encourage any lactating mother that she’s doing what’s best for her baby.

The breastfeeding relationship can provide a wonderful bonding experience between a mother and her infant. Nursing is also deeply comforting to most babies, helping them relax and drift off to sleep.  The benefits of breastfeeding are not just emotional, however. Breast milk is a complex and dynamic substance that science is only beginning to understand.

Here are five facts about breastfeeding that prove what a truly unbelievable feat a woman’s body is capable of producing.
5 Unbelievable Facts About Breastfeeding
*This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author. This post may also contain affiliate and/or paid links. Rest assured that I only work with companies and individuals that I trust. While some of those companies and individuals may work in the medical field, this post is not intended to be a substitution for medical advice. Always speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental or physical health.

1. Breastmilk Contains Substances That Cannot be Recreated in Formula

Hormones, living immune cells and enzymes are exclusively supplied by breastmilk and are perfectly suited to each individual infant’s needs. Human milk contains several different types of proteins in concentrations and forms that are easily digestible. While minerals like calcium and iron are present to a lesser degree in breastmilk than in formula, they are in such readily available forms that the baby ends up absorbing a greater amount. The immune properties in human milk also bring the benefit of easier storage and less worry compared to formula.

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2. Breastmilk Boosts Baby’s Immune System

Breastmilk is filled with a wide array of immune factors that help protect babies from viruses and bacteria. The specific antibodies the mother supplies provide tailored protection against microorganisms commonly found in the environment the baby is entering. The transfer of antibodies continues even once weaning has started: As baby begins to eat more solid food and less milk, the concentration of immune factors in the breastmilk increases.

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3. Milk Composition Fluctuates Continually

Babies often can’t help falling asleep while nursing, but it is not just the act of nursing that encourages sleep. Studies of breastmilk samples have shown that certain sleep-inducing components are present in greater amounts during the evening and nighttime hours. The milk’s make-up changes even over the course of a single feed. At the beginning of a nursing session, the milk is high in lactose, low in fat and perfect for quenching baby’s thirst. Closer to the end, the lactose level decreases and the fat level rises, giving the baby a kind of “dessert” that keeps them full and satisfied until the next feeding.

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4. Breastfeeding Burns More Calories Than Pregnancy

During the third trimester, approximately 300 more calories are required daily to support the growing baby. While breastfeeding, the mother will need 500 extra calories to produce breastmilk. Breastfeeding mothers often find it easier to lose the pregnancy weight, and nursing also helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size by stimulating stronger and more effective uterine contractions.

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5. Breastfeeding Reduces Cancer Risk

Women who breastfeed their babies have been shown to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in their lives. Scientists believe this protection stems from the fact that estrogen levels are lower while breastfeeding continues. In addition, breastfed babies have lower rates of obesity throughout their lives. Since obesity is a significant factor in several types of cancer, the baby also is placed at a lowered risk of cancer in their own lives.


What do you think of these facts about breastfeeding?  Did any of them surprise you?  While breastfeeding has some incredible benefits for both mom and baby, it’s important to consider your own mental health as well.  Breastfeeding may not always come easily for all moms and babies.  There is a lot of help available, including online breastfeeding courses and in home lactation consultants.

Author: Vanessa Rapisarda

Vanessa is a married, mother of three gorgeous kids. As a postpartum depression survivor, she writes about maternal mental health and wellness. She believes that speaking up about postpartum depression is one of the strongest things a mother can do to help raise awareness and end the stigma of mental illness.