19 Surprising Facts About Breastfeeding
There’s a reason we call breastmilk “liquid gold”—it’s an incredible substance that nourishes, adapts to baby’s needs, and protects against illness. Here are some breastfeeding facts that are quite surprising!
Facts about Breastfeeding Rates
- 83.2% of babies start out breastfeeding according to the CDC.
- The AAP recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, but only 25% of babies are breastfed exclusively by their half birthday.
- Contrary to the AAP, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends continuing breastfeeding until 2 years of age.
- 57.6% of babies are fed through a combination of breastmilk and formula by six months of age.
- Black mothers have the lowest rates of breastfeeding—64% start out breastfeeding and most stop after 6.5 weeks. The reason? Black mothers tend to go back to work sooner after birth, get less information about breastfeeding from healthcare providers and have less access to professional support like lactation consultants.
- Among high-income countries, Sweden has one of the highest rates of breastfeeding at 98%!! This could be due to the most generous parental leave policies in the world.
- In 2018, it finally became legal to breastfeed in public across all fifty states!
Facts about Breastmilk
- In the first few days after birth, breasts produce colostrum: Nutrient-rich milk full of calcium, proteins, minerals, and antibodies that babies need in their first few days of life.
- Breastmilk is amazingly adaptable! If you or your baby are sick, the number of antibodies and white blood cells in your breastmilk increase to fight off infection. Talk about cool!
- Yawnnnn…..Breastmilk makes babies sleepy! Towards the end of the day, breastmilk contains more serotonin—a hormone that helps babies sleep.
- Eat a lot of garlic one day and feel like you can smell it in your milk? Diet can change the smell and taste of your breastmilk—you may find babies have a preference, too!
Facts About Breastfeeding Mothers
- Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories—somewhere between 400 and 600 per day—no wonder you’re so hungry!
- Your brain is on your side. While you’re breastfeeding, your brain releases prolactin and oxytocin (the “feel good” hormones) which help you bond with baby.
- Women who breastfeed are less likely to be diagnosed with postpartum depression… maybe because of all those feel-good hormones!
- Another healthy benefit for mom: Those who breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer.
Facts About Babies Who Are Breastfed
- A newborn can only see 8 to 15 inches away from his face, meaning he can see you while he's nursing. Talk about bonding!
- Babies have a well-developed sense of smell and know their mama’s specific breastmilk scent. That’s why she’ll turn her head to you when hungry.
- It’s been shown in studies that breastfed babies are less likely to get ear, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
- When a baby is going through a growth spurt, she will want to nurse more frequently—your breasts will take the hint by increasing the fat content.
What fact did you find most astonishing? Tell us in the comments!