On World Breastfeeding Week 2022, we wanted to share with you more information about what is in breast milk.
Did you know that breast milk contains hormones or that it can help aid brain and eye development?
Breast milk has many benefits for both baby and mum, here are just some of the reasons mothers all over the world choose to breastfeed their baby.
Breast milk contains all the basic ingredients such as fats, carbohydrates, proteins and water to provide your baby with energy, hydration and essential nutrients to grow.
But breast milk is no ordinary food – it has more value than nutrition alone.
Here are just some of the constituents of breast milk present at every feed, which cannot be replicated or manufactured:
- Millions of live cells. These include immune-boosting white blood cells, as well as stem cells, which help organs develop and heal.
- Thousands of proteins that help your baby grow and develop, activate the immune system, and develop and protect neurons in baby’s brain.
- Enzymes, which are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in the body. The ones in your breast milk have jobs such as aiding your baby’s digestion and immune system, as well as helping absorb iron.
- Growth factors that support the healthy development of your baby’s intestines, blood vessels, and nervous system.
- Hormones, your breast milk is packed with them! Hormones send messages between tissues and organs to ensure they work properly. Hormones help regulate your baby’s appetite and sleep patterns. Oxytocin is released to help form a strong and loving relationship between you and your baby. This relationship has a lifelong impact on baby’s health, development and wellbeing.
- Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins. There are five basic forms of antibodies and all of them can be found in your breastmilk. They protect your baby against illnesses and infections by neutralising bacteria and viruses.
- Long-chain fatty acids which play a pivotal part in building your baby’s nervous system, as well as aid healthy brain and eye development
There are more than 200 types of simple carbohydrates found in breast milk. These influence the development of the microflora by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria found in your baby’s gut which helps protect your baby against infections.
Breastmilk is also readily available, convenient, completely sterile and safe.
Breast milk is unique to that mother because, like all physiological fluids (blood, for example), breast milk varies from person to person and from one day to another day, and even during the same day.
You can find out more information when deciding how to feed your baby on the UHDB website >