15 cool breastfeeding facts

Boobs are pretty amazing: fun facts about the biology of breastfeeding.
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Photo: Jade Beall

1. Cup size has nothing to do with your milk storage capacity. Hormones are what trigger your mammary glands to secrete milk.

2. No one has symmetrical breasts, but they might become more lopsided during breastfeeding if your baby always favours one side. It’s also possible to feed a baby using only one boob. While some nursing women’s breasts balloon, others don’t grow much at all, but they’re still able to meet their baby’s needs.

3. Today 90 percent of Canadian women report ever breastfeeding at all, with 51 percent stopping at the four-month mark and 14 percent stopping at six months.

4. Your boobs can leak even if you’re just thinking about your baby (or you hear another baby cry). Wear nursing pads, and know you might be sleeping in a bra for a while.

5. Breastmilk has healing powers: It contains antibodies that defend your baby against infections. A few drops of breastmilk can also soothe a newborn’s diaper rash or sore throat, treat acne, and help alleviate eye and ear infections. Your milk can also ease eye irritation if your baby has a plugged tear duct (which is common in infants).

6. Feeling drowsy? It’s not just sleep deprivation. Lactating releases oxytocin, which causes a relaxing sensation.

7. Newborns take anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes (occasionally even longer) to nurse.

8. Breastmilk tastes like cow’s milk, but is nuttier, sweeter and almost vanilla-like. Hindmilk (at the end of a nursing session) is creamier, thicker and more like condensed milk.

9. Up to 10 percent of babies are born with a tongue-tie, which can impede a breastfeeding latch, and it’s more common in boys. A quick procedure called a frenectomy can correct it.

10. A US study found that mothers of multiples breastfed anywhere between five weeks and six months. Most of these moms preferred to nurse their babies consecutively, rather than in tandem, so they could devote more individual attention to each child. If you’re nursing two babies at the same time, the double football hold and double cross-cradle are popular techniques.

11. To build up an impressive freezer stash of milk, the best time to pump is about an hour after your baby’s first morning feed.

12. If you’re having trouble pumping, do your best to take a few deep breaths. Looking at a pic or video of your baby can also help with letdown.

13. Studies have shown that baby boys drink more breastmilk per day, on average, than girls.

14. Postpartum women in the UK were once encouraged to drink a pint of Guinness to boost their milk supply. But the truth is, while the barley in beer may increase prolactin (the hormone that causes lactation), the alcohol in beer can inhibit it. It’s best to wait two hours after having a drink before you nurse. 

15. For every year a mother breastfeeds, her risk of developing invasive breast cancer is reduced by six percent. Longer breastfeeding is also linked to a reduction in ovarian cancer.

Read more:
The best breastfeeding advice I ever got…
7 breastfeeding tips every nursing mom has to read
What nobody ever told me about breastfeeding

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