Elsa Joseph is the mother of a charming little boy and an Airline Pilot. Keenly into reading and writing only after personally trying it.
Breastfeeding is the most beautiful and beneficial experience for both the mommy and the baby. Breast milk is known as liquid gold, and you will discover how. Breast milk is full of benefits for the baby. Significantly, the first milk is called colostrum. It's rich in antibodies, a form of proteins that will cover the internal lining of a baby's intestine and provide the necessary protection from most of the infections. A baby is born with low immunity and with time, the immune system evolves, and till then, mothers milk offer that protection. This first thin yellowish milk, colostrum also magically works as a laxative which helps the baby to do first stool called meconium. Not only this it also aids in the proper functioning of the digestive system. Jaundice in newborns is very common, but with breast milk, you can prevent it.
Size of baby's tummy
Breast milk also grows and matures with your baby. At birth baby's s tummy is just the size of a hazelnut amounting to 1-2 teaspoons full of milk. Within a week it grows to a measure of a walnut consuming around 2 ounces of milk. Not just the quantity but the texture of the milk also transforms, the thin yellowish colostrum now changes into thick whitish milk.
Protection from diseases
Breastfeeding protects the baby from numerous diseases, not just at birth but even later in life. Breastfed babies have less probability of developing type-2 diabetes and obesity during teenage and adulthood. Furthermore, it also acts as a shield against numerous diseases, namely, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), asthma, ear infections, skin infections, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
Dietary intake and breast milk
Breast milk consists of water, so the mother must keep herself well hydrated; it will further help in keeping up the supply of milk. Whatever a mother eats is directly passed to the baby via breast milk. So you the importance of eating healthy for a lactating mother. It is as vital as it was during pregnancy.
Try avoiding junk food altogether, instead opt for organically grown vegetables and grass-fed meat. It is a good idea to continue your calcium and iron supplements as it was during pregnancy. Any other medication consumed during breastfeeding may affect the baby negatively. Consult your doctor before taking any medicine, prescribed or over-the-counter. You can also check the effect of any medications at the National Library of Medicine https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm. Breast milk has the perfect proportion of vitamins and minerals needed for the baby and is too light to digest.
Types of feeding
Exclusively breastfed babies are the ones who take no other solid or liquid apart from breast milk. An exception to this is vitamins or minerals syrup or any medicine prescribed by the doctor. A mother must maintain hygiene during feeding. Take regular baths, and clean your nipple with water before breastfeeding.
On the other hand, replacement feeding is the one in which the baby is totally on the top feed that is the formula. There could be many situations leading to it. A mother may not be able to produce breast milk due to some ailment or hormonal imbalance. A mother may even choose to formula feed baby instead of breast milk. There's nothing wrong with either of it. You can use a feeding bottle or bowl and spoon. In both, hygiene has to be maintained. Sterilize the bottle or the spoon and bowl before giving it to the baby because the formula is not sterile as breast milk. The temperature of the milk also has to be checked because too warm or too cold milk will make a baby throw up. The formula is slightly heavy to digest by the baby when compared to breastmilk.
Under rare circumstances, a baby is born with lactose intolerance. In this case, do not use the regular formula that contains cow's milk. Consult your paediatrician for the same. Today we have a variety of baby milk available that are hypoallergenic or lactose-free. These are plant-based milk made of soy instead of animal-based.
The third type is the mixture of the above two methods, supplementary feeding. A baby is breastfeeding, but when the mother's supply diminishes, formula compensates it.
None of these types is correct or incorrect; it is what the situation demands. So any mother should not feel or made to feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed or exclusively breastfeed.
Hormones released during breastfeeding
Prolactin and oxytocin are responsible for the generation of milk. These hormones are released in response to the baby sucking your nipples. Many women don't produce milk immediately post-delivery, and sometimes it takes 3-4 days to produce milk. But even in those times, it is essential that you breastfeed because baby sucking will send a signal to the brain to produce the hormones that will, in turn, produce milk.
When the baby sucks, it causes the letdown reflex. The letdown reflex may also become active if you're thinking about your baby or the baby is hungry. During the initial few months, the feeding should be on-demand. The newborns usually feed every two hours or so. Try not to provide one side beyond 20-30 minutes; it will help adequate milk supply.
Hindmilk and foremilk
Always finish the milk from one side and then shift to the other side. Breast milk is composed of foremilk and hind-milk. The foremilk is more watery whereas the hind-milk is more fat-based and so you must finish feeding on one side before switching to the other side. A good practice is always to start feeding on the alternate side. That is if you fed the baby from the right side and then left. In the subsequent feed, offer the left side first, and then right this helps in maintaining supply in both breasts.
Advantages of breastfeeding
Let's look at the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother too.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus to reduce back to its original size as it was before pregnancy and reduces the bleeding post-delivery.
- The longer the mother breastfeeds the more time it takes for your periods to return.
- Also, breastfeeding reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also saves money spent on formula, feeding bottles, and nipples.
- It is also environmentally friendly because the formula cans and packaging creates waste materials.
Initially, you may experience some discomfort in breastfeeding as both you and your baby are in the learning stage. If you understand the basics of breastfeeding correctly, it will help you to quickly overcome this stage, one of which is proper latching. Otherwise, you may end up with sore nipples. But it only takes a few days and your baby masters the art of latching and sucking. A proper latch is when not just the nipple but areola, the dark area around the nipple is in the baby's mouth. But if the pain becomes unbearable, speak to your doctor.
Another important aspect is to avoid nipple confusion in a baby's early life. Avoid giving a pacifier or bottle to the baby for an initial 3-4 weeks. As it may lead to confusion when feeding through the bottle, the baby only has to suck the nipple, and the milk comes. The baby will then suck your nipple only to get the milk, which may cause sore nipples. Also, the bottle offers more milk each time the baby sucks as compared to the breast; this may lead to frustration in the baby.
It gives a feeling of extraordinarily full and massive breasts, can sometimes be painful. It may also cause difficulty in latching. The mother may also experience a low-grade fever.
Continue feeding the baby to avoid it or express out some milk to reduce discomfort. Try expressing the milk by hand or with the use of a breast pump.
When the milk does not drain properly, it causes inflammation in the area surrounding the milk duct. It usually occurs in one breast.
- Continue feeding on that breast every 2 hours to clear the duct.
- massage in a circular motion towards the nipple,
- use a warm compress,
- Wear a well-fitted bra, but not tight, and without underwire,
- Rest well and relax.
If it occurs too often or the plug doesn't clear in a day, or the discomfort is too much, speak to your lactation consultant because a plugged duct may lead to infection.
Mastitis is an infection mostly in one breast and rarely in both breasts. The breast may have a lump or soreness, and it's similar to the plugged duct. It gives flu-like symptoms, nausea, and vomiting, yellowish discharge from the breast. It gets self-healed within a day or two but if it doesn't subside, consult the expert. It occurs due to varied reasons if someone around the mother has flu, if the mother is overworked, to name a few.
There are numerous positions to feed your baby. You need to choose the one that satisfies and is comfortable for both you and your baby
- The most common of them all is the cradle hold. Your forearm supports the baby's head, and she is facing towards you.
- Cross cradle, this is similar to cradle hold but with extra support on the baby's head with your palm. It's most suitable for premature or under-weight babies.
- The football hold is useful if you've had a c-section. The baby is lying on her back on your side with her head at the level of your nipple.
- Side-lying can also be used in case of a c-section or if you are resting. In this, you lay on the side, and the baby is lying facing you with the head at breast level.
- Laid back, as the name suggests, you are lying on your back with baby on you with her head between the breasts. Gravity will aid you in this position.
- https://www.who.int/health-topics/breastfeeding#tab=tab_1 World Health Organization
- https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/formula-feeding/Pages/default.aspx American Academy of Pediatrics
- https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm National Library of Medicine
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.