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7 Facts About Breastfeeding For New Mums

Chief Editor | Published on February 9, 2023

According to the World Health Organisation, globally, only around 40% of infants under 6 months are exclusively breastfed. Dr Tan Thiam Chye, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (OBGYN) at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital notes that in Singapore, about 80% to close to 100% of mothers breastfeed their children while at the hospital but the dropout rate once they return home is high. For new mums, breastfeeding can be very frustrating at times, but the rewards are amazing. Here are some interesting things to note about breastfeeding to help you along on this important journey with your infant.

Fact 1: Breast Milk Production Has Nothing To Do With Breast Size

Hormones trigger your mammary glands to produce milk, so it’s got nothing to do with your cup size. Another interesting point to note, about two-thirds of breastfeeding mothers produce milk from their right breast, and no, it’s got nothing to do with being right-handed.

Fact 2: Breast Milk Has Healing Powers

Breast-fed babies are said to get sick less often due to antibodies in the milk and are less likely to get illnesses such as ear infections, pneumonia, urinary track infections and diarrhoea, and are at a lower risk from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In addition, children who are breastfed are said to have a lower rate of certain illnesses as they grow up, including asthma, childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“Due to the nutrients and antibodies in breast mild, breastfeeding is definitely the healthier way of looking after a baby,” says Dr Tan.

Fact 3: Breastfeeding Helps the Mother In Many Ways

A woman who has breastfed is said to have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Studies show that the longer a woman breastfeeds, the higher the benefit.

Breastfeeding also helps mothers heal faster after delivery, for example, by helping her womb return to its pre-pregnancy size faster.

Finally, breastfeeding is said to help mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight much faster than mothers who formula-feed their babies. On average, it takes about 1,000 calories a day to produce breast milk which is why breastfeeding mothers are advised to consume an extra 500 calories a day.

Fact 4: Breast Milk Changes

Breast milk changes its nutritional profile as your baby grows. For example, the milk for a 3-month old is different from that for a 9-month old. In addition, it can change from day-to-day depending on the weather or when baby is sick — for example, water content may increase in breast milk during these times to provide extra hydration.

Fact 5: Breastfeeding Soothes Both Mum And Baby

Human breast milk is said to have substances such as oxytocin, that promote sleep and calmness in babies while breastfeeding helps mothers bond with their baby and may even have a calming effect.

Fact 6: It May Protect Mothers From Postpartum Depression

A study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine found that women who breastfed were less likely to be diagnosed with post-partum depression. While the researchers were not sure what the connection is, some researchers hypothesise that it might have to do with the “feel-good hormone”, oxytocin, that is produced when a baby nurses.

Fact 7: Babies Can Pick Up Food Tastes From Breastfeeding

A baby picks up the tastes of different food from their mother’s breast milk and can keep their fondness for such food even after breastfeeding ends.

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