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There are many great benefits of breastfeeding. You probably already know this.
However, do you really understand the miraculous SUPER POWERS that breastfeeding moms actually have? Yes! Breastfeeding moms have amazing super powers!
Okay, yes… ALL moms really have super powers, but we are going to focus on our breastfeeding super powers in this post….
If you are pregnant, I urge you to learn why both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months. Go here to read more about these benefits.
In this post, I am going to go beyond the typical “benefits of breastfeeding” conversations. I am going to let you in on some really cool (lesser known) “secrets” about breastfeeding. Let me explain…
Most Common Benefits of Breastfeeding
Before we discuss a breastfeeding mom’s lesser known super powers, 🙂 let’s quickly list the well known benefits of breastfeeding, for those of you who are new to this discussion.
Although you can read more in detail about the benefits of breastfeeding in this post, Here is a quick summary below:
- Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for babies.
- Breast milk contains important immune-boosting antibodies.
- Breastfeeding reduces risk of SIDS.
- Breast milk may reduce the risk of childhood disease.
- Breast milk promotes a healthy weight in child.
- Studies show that breastfed babies may be smarter.
- Breastfeeding supports maternal weight loss.
- Breastfeeding helps mom’s uterus contract and return to normal after childbirth.
- A breastfeeding mother has lower risk of postpartum depression.
- Breastfeeding lowers maternal risk of disease.
- The act of breastfeeding prevents menstruation. protecting mom’s iron stores.
- Breastfeeding saves time and money!
Why Breastfeeding Moms have Super Powers
The human body is so amazing! I never realized just how amazing until I began studying to become a doula.
The fact that our bodies are able to create and sustain life during pregnancy is incredible by itself, but it doesn’t stop there!
Lactation is also quite amazing! As moms, our bodies know just how to provide the ideal food for our babies… and not only food, but medicine too!
Breast Milk is Food and Medicine!
In addition to all the white blood cells in breast milk which rapidly kill off germs, there is another special medicine within human breast milk called “antibodies.”
These powerful antibodies protect your baby in a most incredible way. (source)
Not only that, but your body knows just how to prescribe the proper antibody. But, how does a mother’s body know which antibodies to make?
This is the truly mind-blowing part!
How the Antibodies Get into the Milk
When a breastfeeding baby has been exposed to a pathogen, that pathogen (virus or bacteria) shows up quickly in the baby’s saliva. (source)
While breastfeeding, the germ in the baby’s saliva is then transferred to the mom’s nipple. Receptors in mom’s mammary gland then read the signals.
If the mammary gland receptors detect the presence of pathogens, they compel the mother’s body to produce antibodies to fight it.
At the next feeding, those antibodies travel through breast milk back into the baby’s body, where they target the invading pathogen.
Oftentimes this happens before the baby even becomes symptomatic! Even the best organic formulas cannot do this!
Why Parents Should Always Feed Recently Pumped Breast Milk
What about in the case of expressed or pumped breast milk?
Since we know that a mom’s body can literally write a prescription to a specific illness that her baby has just been exposed to, it is important to make sure that baby gets that most recently pumped milk.
For this reason, lactation specialists recommend using the most recent milk first. Especially when you know your baby is fighting off illness.
If your baby is in daycare or daily bottle-fed expressed breast milk, try alternating the recently pumped milk with other frozen milk to ensure that he gets these current antibodies throughout the day.
This will give your baby her best chance at staying healthy.
What About Nipple Shields or Exclusively Pumping Moms?
While it is believed that a mother’s breast tissue can create antibodies in response to airborne pathogens as well, I would still consider allowing your baby to suckle at the breast or even lick mother’s nipple, if possible.
If you are using nipple shields or your baby is unable to latch during a feeding, try snuggling skin to skin between feedings and allowing her mouth to come in contact with your nipple.
This close contact of mother and baby is extremely beneficial in sharing immunity with her. Who knows…she may even latch unexpectedly in this way!
Although I have not seen any studies to prove this theory, you might even consider swabbing your baby’s mouth and rubbing her saliva onto your nipple.
Sleep Hormones in Breast Milk
Another one of the great benefits of breastfeeding is the transfer of sleep hormones to your baby.
Depending on the time of day, a mother’s body will produce hormones that affect her baby’s sleep. The hormones in the mother’s circulation are reflected in her breast milk.
So, in the evening, for example, your baby will begin receiving milk with melatonin to help her calm and sleep.
Day milk is going to have a completely different hormonal make up than night milk!
For this reason, it’s important to label your pumped milk with the hour of pumping, to be given at the corresponding time of day, if possible.
God’s Amazing Design!
Isn’t it amazing how our bodies are designed to create and nurture life?
God has truly outdone Himself here! We are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made!”
My Favorite Breastfeeding Mini-Guide!
I just discovered this brand new breastfeeding resource published in 2019 that I absolutely LOVE!
Do you want to learn everything you need to know about breastfeeding, but you’re short on time?
This is the PERFECT resource for you!!
Why do I recommend it?
1. It’s a quick & easy read that is PACKED with everything you need to know about breastfeeding, … in SMALL. DIGESTIBLE. BITES!
2. The author takes you day-by-day through the first week of breastfeeding and then week-by-week for the first 6 weeks! After that she walks you through each month of your baby’s first year.
3. This book is well-organized! It is easy to find the information that you need when you need it. (What to expect each month, what’s normal, what’s not, how to know if my baby is getting enough, how to recognize growth spurts, along with up-to-date, evidence-based breastfeeding tips for each week and month!
4. You can download Breastfeed Like a Boss to your phone or tablet and have it ready whenever you need it!
5. It’s really affordable…. NO... REALLY!
Do you have any breastfeeding stories to share? I’d love to hear your comments or reflections! Thank you. 🙂