I thought I will share some interesting tidbits about nursing and breast milk today.
1. When a woman breastfeeds, the baby uses up her DHA (an omega-3 fat), which is the Queen of Fats for baby’s brain development. Moms keep DHA in their bottom and thighs – so that is why your body is so protective of this fat and it is hard to lose even if you cut calories and lose weight. So, if you want to move fat, nurse your baby!
2. If you want to increase the DHA content of your milk, a small study(1) found that eating two omega 3-enhanced eggs daily for six weeks nearly doubled the percentage of DHA in the breast milk. Vegetarians who eat dairy may get small amounts of omega-3 from milk and butter.
3. In one study (2), babies preferred to nurse when the mom ate garlic first! Garlic changes the flavor of milk and apparently babies like it, and maybe it will even contribute to an adventurous palate later on – yay to no more picky kids! So advice to avoid strong or spicy foods while nursing is not really logical.
5. There is an interesting connection between breast milk, eczema, and allergies. One study found (3) that the more the mom laughs, the less eczema and the fewer allergies to dust mites and latex in the baby. They found that people with eczema tend to have less melatonin (a hormone with many positive functions), and when a nursing mom laughs, melatonin levels in her milk increase. So don’t feel guilty and treat yourself to some funny YouTube videos or comedy movies while nursing your baby!
6. Breast milk does not only fill your baby’s stomach, but leaves a mark on it. The baby’s intestine is porous and very vulnerable to foreign bacteria and proteins that might trigger allergic reactions. Colostrum (baby’s first milk) seals it up properly, and growth factors in the breast milk prompt the baby’s intestinal lining to grow and develop.
(1), (2), (3) – Source of studies is from Real food for Mother and Baby, by Nina Planck, First U.S. Edition 2009.