Facts you didn’t know about breast milk

Breast is best for babies, but what is it about breast milk that makes it so unique? For starters, every breastfeeding mother produces her own unique blend, which even has its own unique smell that infants know how to identify. You can give your baby the gift of good health with help from the dedicated maternity team at West Hills Hospital.

Breast milk cannot be synthetically produced
It isn’t possible for formula to duplicate the composition of breast milk. One reason for this is its ever-changing nature.

The first milk your body produces after giving birth is called colostrum, which is exceptionally high in protein and antibodies. Compared to later breast milk, colostrum is much lower in sugars and fats, since newborns don’t need as much of these. Your body knows how to release only tiny amounts of colostrum at a time, since that’s all newborns can handle.

Even after your mature milk comes in, it will constantly change its composition. At the start of each feeding session, breast milk has a watery consistency. Toward the end, it becomes thicker and fattier.

Breast milk changes throughout the day, as well, and no two mothers will have exactly the same composition of breast milk. Breast milk changes as your baby grows older to meet his or her evolving nutritional needs. It can even change in response to a baby’s illness.

Breast milk has a calming effect
The idea that breast milk can help infants sleep better isn’t just an old wives’ tale. It really does contain substances that calm down babies and encourage sleep—but only later in the day. Breast milk produced in the morning has less of a soporific effect.

This is why some doctors may recommend labeling expressed and stored breast milk with the time of day it was expressed. Breast milk that was expressed in the evening should ideally be fed to the baby in the evening.

Breastfed babies are better eaters as toddlers
Formula has the same, bland taste for babies. Breast milk has subtle flavors of what the nursing mother eats. This means breastfed babies are less likely to be picky eaters as they transition to solid foods.

Families in the West Hills area have long turned to West Hills Hospital for superior, family-centered maternity care. Our Postpartum Services include breastfeeding lessons given by certified lactation consultants. Call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321 with your questions about our exceptional maternity care.

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