Breastfeeding is an amazing things – here are five breastfeeding facts you may not have heard before!
Facts About Breastfeeding
You’ve read a million other breastfeeding benefits articles before this one, I’m sure.
This one will be a little different – I’m not going to tell you that it will guarantee your baby turns out to be Einstein.
I will, however, be sharing some little known breastfeeding facts. These are the ones I feel are a little underrated. They aren’t well known, but they are pretty cool. Our bodies can do some powerful stuff.
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Fact About Breastfeeding
#1 You can train your body to lactate
This isn’t very commonly talked about, and it’s actually pretty crazy. But, did you know that you don’t actually have to be pregnant in order to lactate? You can actually train your body to do that.
I have read stories of adoptive mothers training their bodies so that they can breastfeed the baby as soon as they adopt. Um hello, talk about amazing?!
So what does that process look like, anyway?
First, you introduce the proper hormone supplements into your body. This helps aid the process of getting started since milk production starts with the existence of certain hormones. So if you put them there, your body will go “whoa we need to start making some milk up in here”. This usually needs to start several months before the baby’s arrival.
Next, you would need to stimulate your breasts. This will jump-start the supply and demand process. Your body goes off this as a signal that you need milk produced. As long as there is a demand for it, your body will keep producing it.
So while a pregnant woman will naturally produce breast milk, a non-pregnant woman can potentially create the process as well. Given that the proper hormones exist in her body and the demand is there.
If you want to learn more, check out this article about breastfeeding your adoptive baby by Breastfeeding USA and this article about the science of milk production by kelly mom. It’s a pretty cool process when you start looking into it.
Fact #2: If you have multiple children, you can designate a breast to each
While we all know that we can tandem breastfeed, did you know you can actually designate a breast to a particular child? It’s pretty fascinating.
Let’s say you have a toddler and a newborn, each one can get their own breast full of their own set of antibodies, nutrients, and more. You ensure that each child gets the exact makeup of breast milk that they need.
Why would you designate a breast to each child?
The reason for doing this is that breast milk is not a one size fits all. That for a newborn is different than that for a toddler. The milk for a sick baby is different than that for a healthy baby. By designating a breast, you know that is made exactly for that child.
This ensures the composure doesn’t change, too. It stays the way it needs to be in order to benefit that child the most.
Fact #3: Breastmilk composure changes based off baby’s saliva
The composure changes per child based on their saliva. It sends signals to your body to make certain cells, antibodies, vitamins, and so much more.
This is why babe being on the breast as much as possible is incredibly beneficial. When they’re on the breast, their saliva is making contact. And when the saliva is making contact, your body knows what and how much to produce.
It’s pretty amazing, really.
When would the saliva cause breast milk to change?
- Your baby hits a growth spurt
- They develop an illness
- Their needs change
There are a number of other reasons too, but most are just the natural way of life!
Fact #4 Your breast milk will continue to change and benefit your baby for years
And even cooler? Your breast milk will continue to change and benefit babe for years to come. A common myth is that there is no benefit past a year or even a few months. Thankfully, that is incredibly false.
How does the composure of breastmilk change, anyway?
Nutrition: As a child gets older, the nutritional makeup will grow. It continues to give the child all they need in terms of energy, fat, protein, vitamins, folate, and even more beyond that. This will continue to change as they get older and as far as we know, does not stop after a certain age.
Overall health: As your baby breastfeeds, their fight against illness gets incredibly stronger. Their immune system builds, they are less likely to get certain diseases, and they are better protected. This continues to change and increase as they get older.
Intellectual development: Research has also shown that the longer a child is breastfed, the stronger the intellect.
Social and mental development: Lastly, the older the child, the more it benefits in social and mental development. It strengthens their mental development, helps encourage independence, as well as other added benefits. This continues the longer they are breastfed.
As long as breastfeeding continues, your child will continue to benefit from it. If you’d like to dive deeper into this, you can read this great article about breastfeeding past infancy from Kelly Mom. There are all kinds of interesting facts and statistics stated there.
Fact #5: Your milk changes throughout the day
Since your breast milk contains different hormones, it also changes depending on the time of day. Your breastmilk will have a slightly different makeup during the day vs night.
During the day, you produce more prolactin. This is the hormone that helps your body produce more breastmilk and your body knows to keep producing it since babe is on the breast more.
And at night, it produces the hormone to help babe sleep. Your body will produce more of this hormone and babe will sleep more soundly.
On that note, if you do pump, it is important to indicate the time it was pumped so babe can get the right milk at the right times. This avoids making them too sleepy during the day, for example.
What cool breastfeeding benefit have you discovered? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to check out our Breastfeeding 101 resource page for even more helpful breastfeeding content, as well as our Breastfeeding FAQs.
Other Posts You May Enjoy:
- 7 Best Baby Carriers for Breastfeeding + Tips for Success
- 9+ Essentials for Preparing for Breastfeeding Before Baby Arrives
- 15+ Benefits of Breastfeeding for Both Mom AND Baby!
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.