I think it’s safe to say that breastfeeding is a pretty remarkable function of the human body. Most people are aware of its numerous health benefits (for mom and baby) and don’t question that it’s the best option for nourishing babies growing body. However, there are also a few exceptional qualities of breastmilk that you may find quite astonishing.
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #1: Composition of breast milk will change based on the time of day. Many breastfeeding mothers probably are aware that breast milk will change in its nutritional profile as the baby ages, but it is not such common knowledge that it also changes in composition just based upon the time of day. For example, at night, a mother’s milk will contain higher levels of tryptophan and other components to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep. (source)
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #2: Producing just one ounce of breast milk requires about 26 calories. A typical range of milk intake for an exclusively breastfed baby is anywhere from 19-30 ounces (source). This means that you would need to consume roughly 500-800 additional calories to produce the required amount of milk for your baby. It’s no wonder that you probably feel like a bottomless pit most days. I know I do!
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #3: Your cravings are legit. Just as with pregnancy, it is normal for specific cravings to arise during breastfeeding. Although there is not much research on this subject, many women report experiencing powerful cravings for sweet, salty, or fatty foods during breastfeeding. While this probably is not caused directly by breastfeeding, and more so by sleep deprivation and the hormonal rollercoaster of the postpartum period, it is still a very REAL thing to be aware of. Eat well and remember to listen to your body, it will tell you what you need.
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #4: Starvation still produces. Even under conditions where the mother is literally starving, her body will still be able to produce incredibly nutrient dense milk. If necessary, her body will actually leach nutrients directly from her own tissues (i.e. calcium from bones) while lactating. Just another reasons why it’s so important for breastfeeding mothers to make sure they are consuming a diet with enough calories and getting in their RDA of vitamins and minerals.
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #5: It’s called ‘Liquid Gold’ for a reason. Breastmilk is actually pretty expensive, selling anywhere from $1 to $2.50 per ounce (some sources say as high as $4 per ounce!). Just to put it in perspective, at 30 oz a day that would equate to roughly $20,000 for the first year of your newborn’s life! Although you could sell it, there are many wonderful places to donate your liquid gold, and also many mothers who are unable to breastfeed that would be so incredibly grateful.
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #6: Breast milk ice cream is a real thing. Yep, it’s called “baby gaga” and was actually sold for human consumption at a little ice cream shop in London. It’s weird to think about, but it makes sense. Basically, anything that you can create with cows milk, you can also create with human milk. This means cheese, yogurt, butter, pudding, and even ice cream can all be made with breastmilk. Not sure I would personally try making any of these, but it’s definitely interesting. You can even make soap and popsicles!
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #7: It may NOT be the golden ticket for weight loss. Sorry ladies. Although it can help many mothers lose some of that initial baby weight, it can actually hinder weight loss in the long term. While breastfeeding, your body produces a hormone called prolactin, which can actually decrease the bodies ability to metabolize fat. So while it may be a weight loss tool for some, it is not always the answer for many. Hang in there though, your baby’s health and well-being is so worth just a couple extra pounds, promise!
Surprising Fact about Breastfeeding #8: Breastmilk heals. Breastmilk’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties make it the perfect natural remedy for healing wounds, burns, and infections. Directly place the breast milk on the affected area, rub it in and let it air dry. It’s proven to be effective at healing ailments such as rashes, ear infections, sore/cracked nipples, cuts and scrapes, and even Pink Eye.
Do you know of any other crazy/weird facts about breastfeeding? Let me know in the comments!
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