Breast milk wasn’t mentioned in any of J.K. Rowling’s books as among the most coveted items in her fictional wizarding world. But if breast milk was anymore magical in real life, it would sparkle. Here are seven almost-otherworldly properties of this mommy superpower:
1. Breast Milk is Tailored to Your Unique Baby at This Specific Time of the Day
Like your fingerprint, your breast milk is entirely your own. No one else has breast milk with quite the same composition as you. Even the breast milk you make for your baby now is not quite the same as what you made for your last baby or will be for your next baby. Another wow factor is that your breast milk changes from feeding to feeding depending on the time of the day. Without a doubt, your baby is getting exactly what he needs when he needs it from your breast milk.
2. Breast Milk is Different for Boys and Girls
While breast milk changes slightly from feeding to feeding during the day, its even more spellbinding to know that the overall composition is different depending on the baby’s gender. Breast milk produced for a boy contains more quick-energy, fat and protein, while the mothers of girls tend to produce more milk overall. Take this a step further and your living conditions may inadvertently favor one gender over the other. Impoverished mothers tend to produce richer breast milk for daughters, while financially stable mothers tend to produce richer milk for sons.
3. Its Flavor Varies According to Your Tastes
Infant formula tastes the same from bottle to bottle. But your breast milk does not! The flavor of your milk changes depending on the foods you’ve been eating, so your baby is exposed to all the same flavors of foods you love to eat. This is partly why breastfed babies tend to be less picky eaters once they start on solid food.
4. Antibodies Change in Real Time
Hands-down, my favorite magical property of breast milk is its ability to produce pathogen-specific antibodies on the spot when breast milk comes into contact with baby’s saliva. Not only that, but antibodies in breast milk are also constantly changing in response to the disease-fighting germs moms are exposed to. So, the next time you’re sick and worried about giving a virus to your baby, take heart that breastfeeding is the very best protection against possible infection.
5. It Boosts IQ
Breast milk’s perfect composition of nutrition, growth hormones and disease protection combine to raise an infant’s IQ by up to eight points. The longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the associated increase in brain power. In fact, the biggest IQ boosts are among children who were breastfed past their first birthday.
6. Making Milk Fights Cancer and Obesity
It’s true that breastfeeding lowers the lifelong risk of all infections, allergies, cancer, and obesity in babies. But did you know that some of these benefits also extend to moms? The biological process of making breast milk lowers your risk of breast and reproductive cancers as well as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.
7. The More You Use, The More You Make
Where else can you make more of anything by using more of it? How breast milk supply increases seems counter-intuitive at first — how much milk you make depends on how much and how frequently milk is being removed from your breasts — but the demand determines the supply.
Think of your breasts like a factory, rather than a container. You need to keep using the product (breast milk) to keep the factory going. If you skip too many breastfeeding sessions and don’t pump at those times, the factory (your breasts) will, in turn, slow down and could very well stop production.
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