Breastfeeding is one of the important phases of motherhood. It helps the mother bond with her baby, forming a much deeper connection. Breastfeeding is nature at its best, as it’s the first time for both mother and the baby without prior experience, yet so perfect!
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
Breast milk is the best food for the baby. It’s loaded with benefits that aid the baby’s health and development, provides all the required nutrition as well and protects the baby from various illness. Breast milk is tailor made for the baby and adapts the milk as per the baby’s requirement, from time to time. Breastfeeding reduces the chances of the baby developing illnesses such as ear infections, urinary tract infections, diarrhea / vomiting and respiratory tract infections.
- Breast Milk Aids Digestion
Breast milk is loaded with goodness for baby’s growth and development. It aids development of the digestive system. Breast milk lines the digestive tract with loads of good bacteria that prevents the growth of harmful germs and organisms, thereby boosting the baby’s immunity in the long run.
- Develops baby’s jaw
Sucking milk from the mother’s breast is difficult for a baby, then from the bottle. This action of sucking helps strengthen the baby’s jaw and in growth of healthy teeth.
- Importance of physical contact
Skin-to-skin contact is important for babies as well as mothers. It gives the baby warmth, a sense of comfort and security. It also helps the mother’s body release the hormone oxytocin, that helps the mother stay calm to feed the baby. Breastfeeding doesn’t just benefit the baby, it also has loads of benefits for the mother too. Breastfeeding is known to reduce postpartum bleeding and helps restore the uterus to pre-pregnancy state quickly. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risk from types of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding also accelerates weight loss in new moms. The body uses all the energy stored during pregnancy to produce milk. On an average the body burns around 800 calories a day while breastfeeding. Last but not the least, it also spares one from all the stress of washing and sterilizing the bottles to mix formula for the baby.
ALL ABOUT BREAST MILK
Breast milk works like “supply on demand”. The more the baby feeds, the more the mother lactates. Breast milk goes through three stages in the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
- Week 1 – During the first few days of breastfeeding the body produces colostrum that’s yellow and thick, loaded with all the essential nutrition and immunoglobulins for the baby. As per WHO, colostrum from the mother is very important for the baby within the first hour of birth. It boosts immunity in the long run and protects the baby from various life-threatening infections.
- Week 2 – During this phase breasts feel much fuller and heavier as they start producing more milk, where colostrum starts changing to transitional milk (the transition from colostrum to mature milk)
- Week 3 onwards – Usually during the third week, breasts produce milk that is much thinner in consistency, called as mature milk.
Breastfeeding is one of the most joyous moments to share with the baby while it’s not as easy for a few. With so much going on from childbirth to feeding for the first time, breastfeeding can be very strenuous. Its best to acquaint yourself and prepare for the new job by making it less stressful for both mother and the baby. Listed are a few tips for breastfeeding
GETTING STARTED WITH BREASTFEEDING
It’s best to start breastfeeding as soon as possible, within the hour of the baby’s birth. Most babies know how to latch on and suck on the first go while, a few need a couple of feeds. Feed the baby every two hours or whenever the baby cries. Birthing is not tiring for mothers alone, it’s a tiring process for the baby as well and can fall asleep after a few minutes of feeding briefly, especially the first few times. This is completely normal and, these smaller feeding intervals helps your body understand the signals and establish healthy lactation.
Feed in any position that encourages the baby to latch on easily. Here are a few positions that has worked for most new moms
- Laid Back Position – it is one of the best positions for babies who have trouble latching on. This position helps them latch on easily while exercising skin-to-skin contact to comfort both mother and the baby.
- Cradle Hold – This is one of the most successful positions there is. It may be a little difficult to get accustomed to initially. Once used to it might be one of the easiest.
- Side Lying Position – this is the best for nighttime feeding or when tired and want to lie down while feeding
The only way to find your comfortable position is to keep trying different positions that’s comfortable for mother and the baby
HOW OFTEN TO BREASTFEED THE BABY?
A newborn baby should be breastfed for about 10 to 12 times a day. Which is once in every 2 to 3 hours. While there is no said rule to feed the baby once in every two or three hours only. Sometimes the baby is hungry in under an hour, and it is important to keep the baby full and satiated. Hence, it is advised to feed the baby on demand rather than on schedule.
It usually takes about 2 to 3 days for the baby’s hunger to set it and may need to force feed the baby during these days to ensure the baby gets enough food and nutrition. Breastfeed your baby as frequently as possible in the first few days to ensure your body produces enough milk for the baby.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THE BABY IS HUNGRY?
As mentioned earlier, it is always best to breastfeed the baby on demand rather than on schedule. It is best to breastfeed the baby by watching the signs of hunger. Crying is also a cue for hunger, by then the baby is very hungry and may be difficult to feed at times.
Here are a few signs to tell if the baby is hungry
- Increased activity or being alert
- Mouthing and suckling vigorously
- Lip smacking
- Short and low-pitched cry
Breastfeeding gets better over time for mother and the baby. It’s advised to reach out to your pediatrician for detailed information as feeding patterns differ from baby to baby.