It's a well-known fact that breastfeeding is best for babies and their mothers -- but did you know that there are other reasons why breastfeeding rocks? Read on for these not-so-famous facts about breastfeeding!
In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we've compiled a list of not-so-commonly known things about breastfeeding -- stuff you wouldn't normally find in most "what to expect" or breastfeeding-related books. Read on and be inspired and amazed at how breastfeeding is truly designed to benefit both mom and baby!
Fact #1: It is possible to breastfeed your baby even if you've stopped altogether — or never tried to before. This is commonly referred to as relactation. Lan Perez, who recently decided to be a fulltime mom to homeschool her two children, shares her relactation story with us:
"After giving birth to my second child, though I had no intention of breastfeeding,I joined the Breastfeeding Pinays (BFP) Facebook group. Out of curiosity, I educated myself about the benefits of breastfeeding.
"When my formula-fed child turned 2 months old, he got sick and was given antibiotics. I remembered a post I read that said breastmilk has antibodies that help infants to have stronger immunity and antibiotics should be avoided if possible, and that was my turning point. I got in touch with friends and started the relactation process the next day.
"I stayed in Arugaan Creche (located in Quezon City) for 2 weeks. Relactation is not a walk in the park. I had a hard time because my milk had dried up, so I literally had no milk to start with.
"We threw away all bottles and strictly implemented cup feeding (to address nipple confusion) and cross nursed with other moms in Arugaan. I learned that both mom and baby benefit from cross nursing: the mom’s milk production is triggered, while the baby learns how to properly latch.
"Now, Jaden is 15 months old and still continues to breastfeed; he's never been sick since then. All the hard work is paying off, he's one happy and healthy boy.
Fact #2: Nearly 75% of mothers produce more milk in their right breast, no matter if they are left- or right-handed. Joyce Martinez, RN, MSN, CLC, the in-house U.S.-certified lactation counselor for Best for Families Inc., says that breasts are often asymmetric, so the fact that most moms produce milk in their right breast may be "because of anatomical (structural) differences of each side -- but it doesn’t mean that the physiological (functional) attributes are poor if one side is smaller."
Nonetheless, many moms claim that their babies seem to "favor" one breast over the other, and it's usually the right one!
Fact #3: Babies usually eat until they are full, not until their moms' breasts are emptied. In numerical terms, this is around 67% of Mama's available milk. Martinez affirms this: "Baby feeds until fullness and sometimes for comfort. Breastfeeding in the early months is like external gestation.
"For 9 months, while in the womb, the baby feeds through the placenta and swallows amniotic fluid (which is known to have the same scent as colostrum). Breastfeeding usually entices the baby to stay at the breast for nourishment and comfort, much like being inside the womb, hence the term 'external gestation.'"
Martinez emphasizes, too, that the breast "is not a bottle or milk container; it is an active organ where milk is continuously produced."