5 Facts About Breastfeeding That Will Surprise You
Scientist focused on breastfeeding discovers amazing things about Mama’s milk
Recently, we were incredibly moved by Katie Hinde’s Ted Talk “What We Don’t Know About Mother’s MIlk.” Katie, PhD, is a scientist, writer and advocate, who explores the dynamic interactions between mothers, milk, and infants. Together with her talk and research and a recent study published on breast milk we share 5 facts about breastfeeding that we bet will surprise you.
1. Breastmilk and baby’s saliva create hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria that can harm your baby.
Katie says, “In 2015, researchers discovered that the mixture of breast milk and baby saliva — specifically, baby saliva — causes a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen peroxide that can kill staph and salmonella.” (Katie’s Ted Talk)
2. Breastmilk for male and female offspring differs.
Katie continues, “The biological recipe of milk can be different when produced for sons or daughters.” (Katie’s Ted Talk)
3. Breastfeeding is not easy and not necessarily taken to “naturally”.
Katie, in a hilarious analogy, compares breastfeeding and sex. “Just because something is evolutionarily ancient doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that we’re instantly good at it. You know what else is evolutionarily ancient?…Sex. And nobody expects us to start out being good at it.”
- Women need help from lactation consultants or doctors to understand how to latch the baby on correctly and get the correct form. Even with a lot of support and teachings, a new mom’s nipples will probably become cracked and bleed and breastfeeding at times will be very painful.
4. The majority of hospitals in the United States are NOT set up properly to support mothers to breastfeed. This is a BIG problem for mothers who want to breastfeed (see #3)!
You may not be getting the support you need. What to do?
Find a local lactation consultant or midwife or ask your doctor. There are online resources too like video tutorials https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRQ1Dtg7vKw.
Note that you can breastfeed in so many different positions — if sitting is not comfortable for any reason or at any time, try breastfeeding lying down.
If you start to experience pain — please seek help immediately. It could be the sign of an infection and regardless, the earlier to treat the symptoms the more likely you will be to continue to breastfeed.
5. In premature babies, those who are breastfed predominantly in the first month of life grow physically more of their brains.
“Predominant breast milk feeding in the first 28 days of life was associated with a greater deep nuclear gray matter volume” in their brains. (Study on Breast Milk Feeding, Brain Development and Neurocognitive Outcomes)
Watch Katie Hinde’s full Ted Talk here:
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