5 awesome breastfeeding facts to know!

Breastfeeding isn't just nutrition - find out 5 awesome things you may not have known!

Diana Chai
mother and baby
© UNICEF/UN0255459/Pasquall2018

10 April 2016

We could talk a lot about the contribution of mothers to building future generations but one of the most important is breastfeeding. If you think it is simply a matter of providing nutrition to a child; think again.

Breastfeeding isn’t just feeding – it’s nurturing, caring and providing all rolled in one. Here are 5 awesome breastfeeding facts to know!

1. Safest food for baby!

Breastmilk is not only nutritious; it is also safe. Unless the milk is pumped and stored; the risk of causing digestive problems to baby are almost nil. It is also the right temperature (no need for wrist tests!) and requires no preparation.

2. It helps prevent disease and death

The ‘first milk’ – or colostrum – is rich in antibodies that help to protect babies from disease and death. This reduces the risk for breastfed babies of contracting ear infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia and other childhood illnesses. In fact, even when mums are sick, the antibodies she produces to help heal herself will be present in breastmilk to benefit baby. They don’t call it ‘the most personalized form of medicine that any of us will receive in our lifetime’ for nothing.

3. It is beneficial to mothers too

Breastfeeding mothers also have a lower risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Improving breastfeeding practices could prevent 20,000 maternal deaths due to breast cancer every year. We’re all looking for ways to stave off the Big C – who would’ve thought the simple act of breastfeeding could help too?

4. Provides vital skin-to-skin contact

Early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby not only promotes bonding, it helps baby build his/her immune system, keep warm and boosts mum’s milk supply for continued breastfeeding. This is why early breastfeeding is recommended.

5. Breastfeeding isn’t just a mother’s responsibility

You might read this and think: but of course it is only the mother who breastfeeds! We can’t possibly expect fathers to! However, breastfeeding is more than just the act of feeding. As natural a process as it is – it doesn’t mean it comes effortlessly. Many women need guidance and support for better breastfeeding.

Women need to be supported by an understanding partner, colleagues, workplaces and societies. Children, especially newborns, cannot wait for jobs, household chores or childcare responsibilities to be done before they need feeding! Families, communities and workplaces each have a role to play in affording women the time and space necessary to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding promotes healthier mums, babies and thus, healthier societies; but if we’re really serious about reaping the benefits, we must also be willing to make the sacrifice to help breastfeeding mothers perform this invaluable act of love for their children without any hindrance from those around her.

Find out more interesting facts and stats about breastfeeding from the latest UNICEF report From the First Hour of Life.