Breast milk is truly amazing. Did you know that it contains all the nutrients your baby needs in the first months of life? It provides your newborn not only with energy in the form of fat and sugar but also with essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
But that's not all. Breast milk also contains antibodies that protect your baby from infections. This means that during breastfeeding, you're not just passing on nutrition but also a part of your immune system.
Furthermore, the composition of breast milk constantly adapts to your baby's needs. At the beginning, it's more watery and contains more sugar, while later, it becomes richer in fat. This way, your baby always gets exactly what it needs at the moment.
In addition to all the health benefits, breastfeeding also has emotional advantages. It creates a strong bond between mother and child, providing comfort and security to both.
Here are 5 things you should also know about breast milk and breastfeeding:
- The amount of breast milk increases until about the 4th week after birth. After that, it reaches a total amount of 800 - maximum 1000 ml per day (for twins, even twice as much). From that point on, only the composition changes, adapting perfectly to the baby's needs at any given time based on the baby's age, varying feeding duration, and frequency. So, in addition to all the essential nutrients, the breast can provide antibodies produced by your body to the baby, preventing or mitigating illnesses.
- Breast size does not determine the amount of breast milk. The number of mammary glands in each breast is roughly the same, regardless of breast size. The variation in size is due to fatty tissue. Instead, milk production is influenced by feeding behavior: the breast produces on demand. With more frequent breastfeeding, the breast can significantly increase milk production within 48-72 hours.
- Neither drinking a lot of water or tea nor increased calorie intake affects milk production. Don't get me wrong, the need for fluids is naturally increased, and the calorie demand for a breastfeeding woman is about 400-500 calories higher. If you don't drink enough, it can lead to fatigue and physical discomfort for you. While it's not conducive to a positive breastfeeding experience, it is not a cause of insufficient milk production. However, your daily calorie intake should not fall below 1500 calories. Let's clear up another myth: There is no evidence that certain foods cause colic in babies.
- Cluster feeding is normal! A healthy newborn should breastfeed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours during the first days. More frequent breastfeeding is also okay and normal. Cluster feeding is a behavior that often occurs in the early days, especially in the evenings or at night. Babies then feed very frequently with short breaks within a specific period. This can even last for several hours. Although this behavior can be exhausting, it is not a sign of hunger or insufficient breast milk! It is an intuitive behavior to stimulate milk production or influence the composition during growth spurts. It occurs more often in the first days and weeks and then sporadically, indicating that your baby has a good sense of their needs. A silver lining: Babies often sleep longer afterward.
- Breastfeeding not only promotes the health of the baby but also yours! Here are a few examples of the health benefits breastfeeding can have for you: The uterus contracts more quickly after birth, reducing blood loss. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, calculated over a lifetime of breastfeeding. In other words, the longer and the more children you breastfeed, the lower the risk. Women with gestational diabetes are less likely to develop manifest diabetes later. Studies show that breastfeeding reduces the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, and rheumatism in old age."