Breastmilk and Breastfeeding: Facts at a Glance

2022 Parents Corner Int FLRF

Relevant sources of information and fast facts about breastfeeding and breastmilk for families in Switzerland


Content and links are reviewed regularly to bring you the most current information available. Is there a resource that you use, but do not see here? We might be interested in including it – please get in touch

If you are in Frauenfeld (Switzerland), we welcome you to visit our community breastfeeding room. It is a quiet, relaxing space for breastfeeding mothers, children and their families.

 

Informative websites for families


Stillförderung Schweiz
(Breastfeeding Promotion Switzerland)
Comprehensive information materials on breastfeeding and breastmilk

Mamamap
Guide to breastfeeding-friendly places, anywhere in Switzerland; by Stillförderung Schweiz (Breastfeeding Promotion Switzerland)


Miapas Networking Project

Information on health topics such as nutrition, exercise and mental health in early childhood (in German); by Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz (Health Promotion Switzerland)


La Leche League Switzerland
Breastfeeding gatherings and individual breastfeeding counselling from mother to mother


Search for midwives by Schweizerischer Hebammenverband (Swiss Midwives Association)
Find a certified midwife near you, anywhere in Switzerland (in German)


Search for lactation consultants by Berufsverband der Schweizer Still- und LaktationsberaterInnen IBCLC
(Professional Association of Swiss Breastfeeding and Lactation Consultants IBCLC )
Find a certified lactation consultant near you, anywhere in Switzerland (in German, English speaking Lactation consultants are indicated)


Verein Postpartale Depression Schweiz
(Swiss Postpartum Depression Association)
Support for those affected and their relatives to quickly find the right help in their region (in German)


Schweizerischer Fachverband Mütter- und Väterberatung
(Swiss Association for Maternal and Paternal Counselling)
Valuable information on child health, development and education (in German)


Swiss Infant Feeding Study 2014

National study on breastfeeding, infant feeding and maternal and child health
Conducted by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

 

Specific to COVID-19, breastfeeding and breastmilk, and vaccinations


Swiss Federal Office for Public Health
Information on pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and vaccination (in German)


World Health Organization

Guidance on breastfeeding during COVID-19


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Guidance on breastfeeding and caring for newborns during COVID-19


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Guidance on vaccination for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers

UNICEF
Information on pregnancy, breastfeeding and vaccination

 

Fast facts about breastfeeding and breastmilk


Breastfeeding and breastmilk consumption produce zero-to-minimal waste

  • With no ‘industry’ required to manufacture breastmilk, its ecological footprint is feather light [3].


Breastmilk is 87% water, keeping babies properly hydrated in the first 6 months

  • The ‘standard’ composition of breastmilk is 87% water, 3.8% fat, 1.0% protein and 7% lactose, keeping babies properly hydrated and nourished [6, 7].
  • Yet breastmilk composition changes dynamically – hourly, daily, weekly and monthly – adapting to each infant’s nutritional, developmental and immune needs [6].


Mothers send signals about when to sleep, wake and eat to their newborns via breastmilk

  • Mothers help set their infants’ circadian clocks thanks to hormones like glucocorticoids and melatonin that pass from her plasma to her milk [11].
  • Breastmilk concentrations of fat, proteins and amino acids, among others, differ dramatically from day to night, also helping infants develop their own circadian rhythms [11].


Foods mothers eat change the flavor of their breastmilk

  • Sweet, bitter, sour, salty, umami – the flavors infants are exposed to via breastmilk contribute to their unique set of taste preferences [14].
  • Infants exposed to a wide variety of flavors from healthy, nutrient-rich foods – first through amniotic fluid and later through breastmilk – can lead to healthier food choices and optimal health later in life [14].


Breastfed babies typically get sick less often than babies who do not receive breastmilk

  • When breastfed babies do get sick, they send signals to their mother via saliva to produce breastmilk that contains illness-specific antibodies [15, 16].


Breastmilk heals from the outside in 

  • Thanks to its antibodies, a few drops of breastmilk can help treat cuts, soothe diaper rash or even help infants with eye and ear infections [17].


Breastfeeding mothers make a direct, positive contribution to the national economy through their supply of breastmilk [10].

  • Yet not breastfeeding is calculated to cost nearly USD 600 billion per year in economic and human capital losses [21].


Maternal health

 Breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer

  • The reduction effect increases with the number of months spent breastfeeding. In other words, the more time a mother spends breastfeeding, the more protection she gains against developing breast cancer [4].


Breastfeeding can protect women from major non-communicable diseases

  • Breastfeeding duration is strongly linked to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus [19] and other chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and hyperlipidemia [20].


Breastfeeding may improve endometriosis and reduce its symptoms

  • Up to 10% of the general female population is affected by endometriosis, a gynecological, estrogen-dependent, inflammatory disease linked to everything from pelvic pain to trouble conceiving [22].
  • Hormones involved in breastfeeding may prevent or mitigate the development endometriosis [18].


Infant health

­Benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk extend throughout life

  • Individuals who had been breastfed show improved performance on intelligence tests and higher earnings in adulthood [5].
  • Breastmilk can protect against developing metabolic diseases, like childhood obesity [9].
  • Any amount of breastfeeding shows a protective trend for the prevention of asthma [23].


Breastfeeding can save infant lives

  • Breastfeeding has a protective effect against sudden infant death syndrome [2].
  • Globally, almost 600,000 childhood deaths are attributed to not breastfeeding annually [12].


Breastfeeding can prevent lower respiratory tract infections

  • Breastfed babies are at lower risk for developing acute bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia [1].

 

References

1https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172763
2https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.13124
3https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5646
4https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334416683676
5https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.13139
6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/
7https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/breastfeeding
9https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.16460
10https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334413494827
11https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.867507
12https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czz050
13https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anai.2022.04.034
14https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-017-0200-3
15https://doi.org/10.1038%2Fcti.2013.1 
16https://www.nature.com/articles/pr201134
17https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu11050944
18https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fijerph182010602
19https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2018.9
20https://doi.org/10.1177/1010539515624964
21The Cost of Not Breastfeeding (aliveandthrive.org)
22Endometriosis (who.int)
23Breastfeeding and risk of childhood asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis - PMC (nih.gov)