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15 Breastfeeding Facts You May Not Have Heard Before

Katlyn Joy | 2, April 2014


Many of us who choose to breastfeed our babies may not have grown up around nursing couples. It may seem like both a completely natural yet foreign thing to you. The advice to just relax, it'll come to you; you're a Mom after all may be less than reassuring. Here are some things you may not know about breastfeeding.

1. Breastfeeding Saves Lives

A bit of perspective: According to the World Health Organization, if every baby born was to be breastfed within an hour after birth, breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, and breastfed as supplement from age 6 months to two years old, approximately 800,000 young lives would be saved worldwide each year.

2. Baby isn't part of a union, but may still go on strike.

Many babies will go on a nursing strike for a day or a few between the ages of 3 and 8 months. The reasons are varied and include:

  • Illness in your baby
  • Mastitis
  • Stress
  • Lack of proper sleep
  • Teething
  • A drop in milk supply or change in taste due to diet or medication or illness in Mom
  • A separation from Mom

Hang in there and continuing to pump through the strike usually work out for the nursling.

3. About a third of moms have no let-down sensation.

Let down is when the milk is ready to flow. For most moms, the feeling of a twinge or sensation let's you know what's happening. However, a third of moms don't realize this is what is happening.

4. Babies Binge-Nurse Sometimes

Babies have growth spurts where they will binge-nurse for a few days. Expect it to happen at 2, 3 and 6 weeks and again at the 3 and 6 month marks. Feed through it without supplementation because baby is increasing your milk supply. If it lasts longer than a few days, talk to a health care provider to rule out any other issues with baby.

5. Breast milk sprays out of many holes, not just one.

6. Let Down Can Be Powerful

Some women have such a powerful milk let down that baby may choke and sputter for a moment. If you are one of those, you may want to hand express the start of your milk to avoid the power hose effect.

7. Babies never empty your breasts completely.

On average, a baby drains about 67% of the milk present during a nursing session.

8. The Right Breast Has More Milk

Moms tend to have more milk in their right breast. It does not matter if they are right or left hand dominant, either.

9. Even if you can't stop smoking, you should still nurse your baby.

Of course the best thing for baby and you is for you to not smoke, but if you can't quite kick the habit, don't give up breastfeeding. Smoking is bad for baby, but not nursing baby could be worse.

10. Taking Medications Do Not Mean You Can't Breastfeed

Lots of moms have to stop nursing because they take medications or they just can't make enough milk. The need to stop breastfeeding is quite rare; almost every mother is capable of producing enough milk for baby. Only a few medications and illnesses prohibit breastfeeding due to the risk of causing harm to baby.

11. Alternating Starting Breasts Is Best

Babies always drink more from the first breast offered. Therefore, alternate which breast you offer first in each feeding.

12. Babies nurse an average of 16 minutes a session.

Some of that time may include some resting periods between active nursing.

13. Let Down May Occur at Odd Times

You may experience milk let down even when you aren't near baby. What may set off the milk? Hearing a baby's cry or seeing a picture of your baby. This usually becomes less sensitive later in nursing.

14. Yeast infections on your breasts are common.

Thought yeast was an exclusively vaginal problem? Nursing pairs can easily develop oral thrush or a type of yeast infection. Signs include a white cheesy coating in baby's mouth, fussiness with feedings, itchy or red nipples, and dry and flaking areolas. Treatment may include a topical antifungal applied to nipples, an antifungal medication for baby and hygienic measures.

15. If you live in Mississippi, you probably won't breastfeed your baby

Mississippi has the most atrocious nursing rates in the nation. A mere 50.5% of new moms breastfeed at all at any point; only 19.7% are nursing at the 6 month point and a paltry 9.1% make it to the 1 year point.

Related Articles

Breastfeeding and Working

Breastfeeding while Pregnant

What Is The Best Diet For A Breastfeeding Mom?

Including Dad While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a Biter


Showing 1 - 2 out of 2 Comments
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welnam Jun 4, 2014 04:08:03 AM ET

I'm so anxious about breastfeeding. I could not breastfeed 12 years ago. I don't even know when or where or what I need to do to start. Scary.

Guest Feb 6, 2018 05:04:35 AM ET

Breastfeeding is a process that you and your baby learn together as you go along. it's not easy at first but i think it's definitely worth the effort. you can always pump if breastfeeding isn't going the way you hoped. hope you can nurse your baby! i'm really glad i was able to nurse my older two for a year each. i couldn't nurse my third as long but, hopefully i can nurse my 4th for the full year or longer. wish you all the best!

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