Monthly Parenting Magazine

Twenty things you might not know about breastfeedi...

Twenty things you might not know about breastfeeding


We wanted to start this list with a little bit of a disclaimer. We strongly believe that parents should feel empowered and supported to make the right choice for them when it comes to feeding their babies – whether that’s breastfeeding, mixed feeding, or formula feeding.

With that said, breastmilk and breastfeeding mums are undeniably amazing. You might have seen on social media that this week is ‘World Breastfeeding Week’. Supported by WHO, UNICEF, many Ministries of Health, and civil society partners, its purpose is to support breastfeeding parents, promote awareness, and educate healthcare providers. In celebration, here’s twenty things you might not know about breastfeeding.

Breast milk is immunological magic

Breast milk is like a personalised medicine for your little one. It contains a myriad of immune factors, antibodies, and white blood cells that help protect your baby from various infections and illnesses. This immune support is particularly crucial during the first months of life when your baby’s own immune system is still developing.

It’s good for the environment

Breastfeeding is eco-friendly! It requires no packaging, transportation, or waste production (unlike formula feeding). With a low carbon footprint, breastfeeding contributes positively to environmental sustainability.

Breastmilk is adaptive

Breast milk composition adapts not only to your baby’s age but also to external factors like your exposure to illnesses. If you’re exposed to pathogens, your body produces specific antibodies that are passed on to your baby through your milk, helping your baby’s immune system fight potential infections.

It reduces health risks

Research suggests that breastfeeding can lower the risk of certain health conditions for both mama and baby. For baby, it reduces the risk of infections, obesity, and chronic diseases later in life. For mama, it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.

Breast milk promotes gut health

Breast milk contains prebiotics and probiotics that nourish beneficial gut bacteria in your baby’s digestive system, promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

Breast milk has a circadian rhythm

Breast milk production follows a circadian rhythm. Melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep, is present in breast milk at higher levels during the evening and nighttime, which might help your little one to get a better night’s sleep.

Breast milk’s taste changes

The flavour of breast milk can vary based on your diet. Little ones exposed to a variety of flavours through breast milk may be more accepting of new foods when they start solids.

It burns calories

Breastfeeding is seriously hungry work. Nursing mums can burn around 300-500 extra calories per day.

Breastfeeding a newborn can be equivalent to a full-time job

In the early weeks after birth, newborns typically need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours, around the clock. This means that mothers may spend 8 to 12 feeding sessions per day, with each feeding lasting anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes or even longer.

Colostrum is known as ‘liquid gold’

The first milk produced after childbirth is called colostrum. It is often referred to as ‘liquid gold’ due to its concentrated nutritional content and immune-boosting properties. Colostrum helps protect your baby from infections and provides essential antibodies.

It supports cognitive development

Some studies suggest that breastfeeding is associated with better cognitive development and higher intelligence in little ones.

Breast milk has stem cells

Breast milk contains stem cells that can differentiate into various types of cells in your baby’s body. These stem cells might help in the development and repair of tissues and organs.

Breastfeeding can prevent allergies

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life has been linked to a reduced risk of allergies and asthma in children.

Breastmilk regulates your little one’s body temperature

The temperature of breast milk is always perfectly suited to the baby’s needs, helping to regulate their body temperature.

Black mothers often face the biggest challenges with breastfeeding

There are several complex factors contributing to breastfeeding challenges for black parents, including healthcare disparities, lack of lactation support, social and cultural barriers, and historical and institutional factors.

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until two years of age

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends continuing breastfeeding until your little one is two years old. In many cultures around the world, little ones nurse until they are four.

Breastfeeding rates in UK are the lowest in the world

Although the majority of mums in the UK start off breastfeeding, by 12 months we have the lowest rates of breastfeeding worldwide at just 0.5%. By comparison, in Scandinavia 98% of women breastfeed immediately after birth and 80% continue to breastfeed at six months. In the UK, 80% of women start off breastfeeding, and that number drops to 25% at six months.

It provides optimal nutrition

Breast milk is specifically tailored to meet your baby’s nutritional needs, providing the perfect balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for healthy growth and development.

It’s associated with lower rates of postpartum depression

There is evidence to suggest that breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of postpartum depression (PPD) in some women. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin and endorphins, reduces cortisol, and has positive psychological benefits.

Breastfeeding promotes bonding

Breastfeeding creates a deep bond between mama and baby. The skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, and physical closeness stimulate the release of oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’), and help to build a strong emotional connection.

Read more parenting insight here.