Breastfeeding Baby…. Not always easy, but worth it……
Breastfeeding is considered a very important discussion among the new moms or mom to be. For some moms, it comes out to be big relief while for others a big nightmare. And if you are reading this, you might be a new mom or mom to be. Congratulations on the arrival of new buds in your life
Breastfeeding moms make nursing baby looks so effortless and unchallenging. They keep doing their chores, talking, eating, watching tv, etc with baby latched on the breast. It looks so natural. Actually, it may not be so easy as it seems, It’s totally a personal matter whether you want to breastfeed or go with the formula milk. But before starting breastfeeding, it is really important to get educated in the frontend.
According to medical experts, including members of AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) and the American College of Obstetricians and gynecologists, recommend infants to be fed on mother’s milk exclusively. Breastmilk can be given directly by making the baby latch on the breast or by bottle-feeding the expressed breastmilk until they are at least 6 months old. Thereafter, the baby must receive complementary food with continued breastfeeding for up to 1 year or beyond.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant doesn’t receive any additional food or fluid.
Although breastfeeding is the gold standard,” not all women breastfeed their infants. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report 2011, of the 136.7 million babies born worldwide each year, only 32.6% of babies are fed exclusively for the first 6 months.
Some mothers make the choice not to breastfeed, but others might be unable to breastfeed because of no milk supply or medical conditions like HIV, milk-producing problems, or other ailments.
If you decide not to Breastfeed, that would make you no less of a mother. But if you do, you must educate yourself as breastfeeding comes up with some difficulties and different feelings.
So here are some points that are the crucial subject matter of breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
- Breastmilk has all the necessary nutrients required for the growth and development of the baby. It contains about 0.9% protein, 4.5% fat, 7.1% carbohydrates, and 0.2% minerals.
- Mother’s milk is the only source of calcium that baby can absorb. It contains 79 mg of calcium per cup.
- Breastmilk accelerates and enhances muscle development, decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, improves intellect, prevents psychological disorders.
- Lactoferrin (an iron-binding protein) present in the breastmilk aids in stimulating the immune system. It also helps in developing healthy bacteria in the intestine, balancing iron metabolism, treating stomach ulcers, diarrhea, and hepatitis c.
- High levels of adiponectin, a serum protein found in breastmilk are associated with weight gain and tissue development in babies.
- Prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding boosts child cognitive development. The breastfeeding baby is sharp and intelligent.
- Breastmilk improves immunity. It lowers the likelihood of getting ear infects, flu, blood disorders, asthma, skin problems, dental problems, diabetes, and obesity in the future.
- Exclusive breastfeeding reduces respiratory and diarrhea-related deaths to infants born to HIV infected women.
Benefits of Breastfeeding For the Mother
- Breastfeeding baby releases oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that relax the mother that helps to bond and make her more nurturing towards the baby.
- Breastfeeding also increases the mother’s oxytocin levels, making her uterus returning to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly and reduces post-partum bleeding.
- Some studies have found breastfeeding babies may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and other breast problems.
- Breastfeeding also helps in reducing postpartum weight and returning back to preconception weight. Exclusive breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day. This means if you are consuming the recommended count of calories and breastfeeding, you should lose about 1 pound a week or two.
- And it also helps to feed ur baby without sacrificing much of your sleep. As mothers who chose formula milk to feed their babies have to wake up at least two to three times at night which disturbs much sleep and can cause sleep deprivation.
When to Start Breastfeeding Newborn
Its recommended to breastfeed newborns in the first hour of birth. This hour is called the magic hour. Studies say newborn suckles and initiate the milk supply.
Lactation consultants advise putting baby on mothers’ breasts immediately after birth for the skin to skin connection. Allow her to access the mother’s breast. If the baby is unable to latch. Support the baby and help the mother with positioning. Breastfeeding in a baby-led position while the mother in a reclined position is a good way to kick start.
Skin-to-skin contact will release a stream of oxytocin which is crucial for the release of colostrum (first milk).
Breastfeeding in this crucial hour helps the mother in recovering from ‘The birth’. Nursing aides in the contraction of the uterus and natural expelling of the placenta. This minimizes blood loss.
Will I Make Enough Milk to Breastfeed
You may struggle in the first few days as colostrum is not enough to feed the baby but its plenty to make baby’s nutritional requirement.
In later days, the baby needs more milk and will suckle intensely. This will trigger your breast to produce more milk in response. Doctors recommend exclusive mothers milk for at least six months. If you substitute breastmilk with formula breasts produce less milk. Breasts make as much milk as consumed by the baby.
Once baby is six months or older you can continue breast milk with added solid foods.
How to Get the Baby to Latch on
“Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt at all , until there is something wrong.”
When you first begin to breastfeed, the baby has to basically build up a callus to your Nipples. It can really be painful for the baby to latch on for the first few seconds, and later, it should be pain-free. Women can experience pain for the first few days, nipples may sore, may also feel breast tenderness due to breast engorgement. This is absolutely normal. You can’t help it. Keep nursing. The pain will subside.
Make yourself comfortable in sitting position. Bring baby close to your chest facing towards you. Settle her on your laps. Be gentle. Lay baby with her head on your arm (inner elbow). Touch your nipple to her lips a few times. Your baby’s instinctive reflex will make him search for feed with mouth open. Bring baby closer and gently put the nipple in her mouth. She should take the nipple along with areola (the pigmented circular area around the nipple) into the mouth to begin latching.
Keep patience. The baby with begin latching and feeding on her own after few trials
You may face other problems like flat or inverted nipples, plugged milk ducts which can be resolved too with the help of nipple shields and breast-pumps. If you are facing latching problems just because you are first-time mom or you have delayed nursing, work on your positions by marking yourself and the baby comfortable. You can use a breastfeeding pillow. Ask someone experienced to help you. Some old school tricks work great. You can apply honey on your nipple before nursing, the baby will try to lick it and will get a proper latch on.
Positions for Breastfeeding
The right position plays an important role in making breastfeeding easier. It helps infants to latch on properly and make mothers comfortable. Here’s a little about some positions.
Cradle: The “typical” breastfed positions u see more often. Great for older babies but not so much for the little ones.
Football: It is more suitable for newborns, and also perfect for large chested mommas.
Side–lying: So comfy!! Perfect for all ages and really nice for mom too. You can do this one till baby wouldn’t stay still anymore.
Reclining: This one looks complicated and like it wouldn’t work, but it actually works best for newborns. They latch so well when you lay all the way down.
Upright breastfeeding or koala hold: This position works best with bigger babies who can sit by themselves or babies having ear infection or who suffer from reflux. This can work with newborns only if given plenty of support.
How Long to Breastfeed?
Feeding is longer initially. Often new mothers get scared about cracked nipples and soreness due to prolong breastfeeding. This makes then feed for a shorter duration. Avoid such stories and let your baby feed for a longer duration.
Lactation consultants believe in feeding for at least 15 minutes up to 20 minutes. However, it varies from baby to baby and from time to time. Your baby may feed for longer or she may be a quick sucker. Don’t worry about feeding duration.
Although the baby is supposed to drink from both breasts but drain one breast completely. Let her feed and quit on the breast then offer the second. Don’t plug off her in amid feeding. Hind milk which is the last milk is loaded with calories and fats.
If you fear of imbalance in breast shape due to one breast preference feeding, let baby drain one breast completely. If she is full and refuses another breast, offer the second breast first in the next feeding
Feed her until she give signs of being done.
How Often to Breastfeed?
It is a common concern among mothers how often they should breastfeed. Babies aren’t born hungry. The need for food develops a few days later. Newborn babies should be fed every 2 hours i.e 10-12 feeds. Thereafter 6 to 8 times a day and then on demands. Baby should be breastfed at least for 15 minutes per feed or till the breast is drained or until the baby stops suckling, hands are no more fisted and the baby appears sleepy and relaxed.
Signs Baby is Hungry
Many studies state that calm babies are well-taken care of and fed on time. Lactation consultants advise feeding babies on demand rather than a schedule. Nurse when your baby looks hungry. Don’t wait for tears and wails. It’s hard to get frustrated baby to latch on. Early signs are-
- Turning towards breasts. Even formula-fed babies search for mother’s breast when hungry.
- Eating objects, hands, etc aggressively.
- Opening mouth in search of food.
- Rooting reflex, They turn their face toward the stimulus and try to suck with the mouth when the cheek or lip is touched.
- Sticking tongue out.
- High and low wails
- Whimpering and cooing
- Moving head from side to side
- Restless, fussing, wiggling
How to Improve Breastmilk Supply
Most mothers being anxiety-ridden because of a lack of breastmilk supply and can’t opt for exclusive breastfeeding. But this problem can be fixed easily if some specific medical condition is not the reason.
- Drink plenty of water. Aim to drink at least 4 liters of water daily. Take a reasonable diet.
- Start feeding more often or pump milk to increase supply
- Eat food that increases the supply of breastmilk such as fenugreek, fennel seeds, leafy greens, lean meat, cumin, etc.
- Start taking Shatavari also known as asparagus racemose with milk. It is very beneficial to enhance supply according to Ayurveda.
- You can also take supplements but only with your doctor’s prescription.
- After doing everything if you are still not producing enough milk, then the reason could be stress. It could be financial stress, emotional stress, work stress, or anything. Stay stress-free and get proper sleep.
When Not to Breastfeed
Sometimes breastmilk could actually do more harm to the baby than doing any good. Generally, it is because the mother has been diagnosed with complex health issues like HIV, untreated and active tuberculosis, infected with any virus, is dependent on an illicit drug, or taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents that can be passed to breastfed infants or using certain medications that can be passed to infants through breastmilk. All these conditions and others make nursing off-limits.
If the mother is addicted to drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc, breastmilk is posing a serious threat to Baby Constituents like the components found in tobacco including nicotine can be carried from breastfeeding mothers to her infant through breastmilk.
Mothers with implanted breasts can feed the baby as the surgery usually doesn’t involve the ducts or the area of breast involved in milk production. It mostly depends on the type of implants, placement of the implants, and the way surgery was done. But most women can still breastfeed just fine.
Essentials for Breastfeeding Baby
Here is a list of items that will make your breastfeeding journey a easier one-
- Breastfeeding pillow
- Nipple shields
- Nipple pads
- Nipple care cream
- Nursing bras
- Nursing gowns
- Baby wipes
- Burp cloths
- Feeding bottles (if you are pumping milk)
Where to Get Help With Breastfeeding
If you find breastfeeding challenging or you are looking for breastfeeding support ahead of time you can seek help from experienced friends or siblings. You can make an appointment with breastfeeding experts and lactation consultants.
You can call-
- Your baby’s doctor
- A lactation consultant
- A nurse who specializes in lactation
- A postpartum doula
- Local mom groups or breastfeeding support groups
- Friends and family members who have nursed, who will likely be happy to offer you an ear and reassurance that the bumps do eventually smooth out
If after all efforts you are still troubled to breastfeed, remember that every problem can be solved. Talk to your doctor about considering formula-feeding. It’s your warmth, love, and attention babies need from you whether you breastfeed bottlefeed. You are still a loving mother.
Breastfeeding take efforts, Its painful but its most rewarding.
A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three. ~Grantly Dick-Read