Even before you deliver your baby, you’re inundated with all of THE questions. You know which one’s we’re talking about.
Are you planning on breastfeeding?
How long are you going to breastfeed?
Do you have a goal?
Are you afraid to breastfeed?
Have you taken a breastfeeding class?
Did you know breast milk is the best thing you can do for your baby?
Is your head spinning? Yeah, ours is too.
We’re told over and over that breast milk is the perfect food, it’s liquid gold, it’s the only thing we should consider feeding our babies (and for a year at that!) but why? What is in our breast milk that’s so special? Well, it turns out it is amazing and you are, too. Keep reading to understand a little bit more about what’s in your breast milk … it might surprise you!
What (Exactly!) Is In Your Breast Milk?
When you think about your own diet, you probably consider the breakdowns of foods you’re eating in a day because you care about getting in all of the necessary elements of the food pyramid. Right? Well, imagine never having to worry about getting the right nutrients because it’s all blended up for you in one perfect beverage—that’s breast milk! It’s the perfect combination of water, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Oh yeah, and it also has a healthy mix of white blood cells, important antibodies for fighting off illness, and enzymes. Not only that but it’s alive, it’s dynamic and it changes from feed to feed based on the needs of your baby.
According to one study that dives deep into human milk composition, breast milk contains thousands of distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonization—and as breast milk is studied more and more, researchers continue to discover even more beneficial components in breast milk.
There are so many things happening in your breast milk, so we pulled a few of the most well-known and understood. Here’s a breakdown of our top 10.
Live cells. It’s … alive! Millions of live cells are found in breast milk including These white blood cells and stem cells that aid in regeneration and repair.
Antibodies. Antibody is actually the layman's term for the more tongue-twisting immunoglobulin. Did you know? There are five basic forms of antibodies in your breast milk that do the hard work of protecting your baby against illnesses and infections by neutralizing bacteria and viruses.
Hormones. Your breast milk contains lots of them! These clever chemicals send messages between tissues and organs to ensure they work properly. Some help regulate your baby’s appetite and sleep patterns, and even aid the bond between you.
Vitamins and minerals. Nutrients that support healthy growth and organ function, as well as help build your baby’s teeth and bones.
Proteins. Proteins in human milk provide an important source of amino acids to rapidly growing breastfed infants as well as play a role in facilitating the digestion and uptake of other nutrients in breast milk. There are literally thousands of them!
Oligosaccharides. Say that ten times fast! This hard-to-pronounce ingredient is actually complex sugars that work hard as prebiotics to help your baby’s gut. They also prevent infections from entering their bloodstream and lower your baby’s risk of brain inflammation.
Enzymes. Enzymes in your milk help aid in your baby’s digestion and immune system, as well as helping them absorb iron.
Growth factors. These bad boys help drive healthy organ development within your baby’s intestines, blood vessels, and nervous system.
Fatty acids. They play a pivotal part in building your baby’s nervous system, as well as aid healthy brain and eye development
MicroRNAs. Thought to regulate gene expression, they’re also responsible for preventing disease development.
Whew. That’s a lot, and it’s just ten of the myriad ingredients you’ll find in your breast milk. Not only that but their levels change over time depending on your baby’s needs (they send you signals through their saliva!), stage and age. We hope this makes you feel like a superhuman, because you are one.
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