Breastfeeding is a very important aspect of child rearing. It exerts benefits on both the mother and her baby. If you are currently pregnant, it is advisable that you do lots of research about breastfeeding so you’ll be equipped for the inevitable task ahead.
You may also seek advice from mothers who’ve had the experience of breastfeeding. Also, your doctor will be in a good position to answer your many questions about breastfeeding.
In this article, we will be looking at everything one will need to know about breastfeeding; benefits, changes that take place during weeks of breastfeeding, breastfeeding positions, breastfeeding in public, breast bump, solid food, pacifiers, medications, weaning and all. This is going to be an interesting and educative read so take your time to follow through.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding affects the quality of babies’ health. Studies have shown that babies who are solely fed with breast milk for a minimum of 6 months have stronger immune systems, are less prone to illnesses and usually maintain a healthy weight.
Breastfeeding helps families cut down expenses on baby foods and health care. It also helps improve mother and baby connection. For the mothers, breastfeeding delays menstrual periods, it could equally help in proper pregnancy spacing. It has also been found that breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding Changes That Take Place From 0 Hour to 6 Weeks After Birth
- Between the first 0 to 24 hours of birth, milk production – colostrum – is usually small, babies suck only about a teaspoonful per feeding since they are yet learning the art and still have small stomachs, and they sleep for the most part of the day as the birthing process was equally stressful for them. The mother too will expectedly feel weary at this time.
- Between day 2 and 6, breast milk may turn from the initial yellow colostrum to bluish white, babies begin to suck more often, say every 2 hours or even hourly, depending on the child. They may also lose the birth weight but will soon regain it at 2 weeks. Mother’s breast becomes noticeably bigger and may even leak out. It sometimes becomes swollen and feels hard. The mother may, in this case, use ice packs to relieve the pain or try squeezing/pumping out some of the milk before breastfeeding her baby.
- Between weeks 4 and 6, breastfeeding begins to happen smoothly as both mother and child adjust to the process. Milk appears whitish; babies suck more as their stomach increases so the swelling of mother’s breast reduces. The frequency of suckling may also be lesser than the first few days because the baby’s stomach can now hold more.
While breastfeeding, position your baby such that his/her entire body is facing yours then, support your breast. It is very important and can be done by placing your thumb on top of the breast while the other fingers go underneath it.
The fingers should also be away from the areola, which is the dark skin surrounding the nipple. You can then gently brush your nipple on your baby’s lips to prompt him/her to open the mouth and suck. Guide your baby to latch on properly such that the lips are well placed and he/she takes in the nipple plus a large part of the areola too. Let us now take a look at some of the positions effective for breastfeeding.
Cradle hold. This position is commonly used by mothers and is done by simply holding the baby such that his/her head rests on the mother’s upper arm and the baby’s entire body facing the mother.
Clutch hold or Football hold: This is a position suitable for mothers that have inverted nipples or large busts. This can be achieved by clutching the baby to the mother’s side and ensuring that the baby’s head is at the same level with mother’s breast and supported to rest firmly and securely in her palm.
Cross-cradle or Transitional hold: This position is suitable for feeding babies that are quite small. This can be done by holding the baby with the arm that is opposite the breast that the mother will be feeding the baby with, while the baby’s head is supported and firmly rests on the mother’s palm.
Side-lying: This position gives the mother a chance to rest or even sleep, alongside her baby while breastfeeding. This can be achieved by the mother lying on either her left or right side, brings the baby close and ensures that the baby’s mouth is close to the nipple.
How to Tell Whether or Not Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk
This can be achieved by monitoring the number of diapers one gets to change for her baby daily. During the first week only 1 – 2 diapers are used but in the subsequent weeks, as the mother produce more breast milk and baby gets more used to breastfeeding, one may have to daily change an average of 6 wet diapers and 4 dirty ones.
If you become in any way bothered about your baby’s feeding and or weight, do well to consult with your pediatrician.
Breastfeeding in Public
This is usually not very easy at first but over time, mothers get used to it. Even though it might be tempting to want to feed your baby with a bottle when out, it is advisable to as much as possible refrain from doing that so your baby can really get used to suckling and latch on well. The following are a few tips that could help at breastfeeding publicly:
- You won’t be staying out too long, feed your baby just before stepping out and immediately you return.
- When in a mall, you can choose to use the women’s lounge, customer’s lounge or even your car to breastfeed your little one.
- When in someone else’s house, you can request to be allowed into one of their rooms so you can comfortably breastfeed your child.
Breastfeeding experts suggest that it would be best to avoid using pacifiers for at least the first month of a baby’s birth so that the baby can really learn how to breastfeed during this period. They say using pacifiers may slow down the learning process.
There are several kinds of manual pumps, automatic pumps and electric pumps available. The electric pump is usually more expensive as they have an insulated section where milk containers can be kept and they come with a carrying case too.
Some of these pumps allow pumping both breasts at the same time. This is usually more effective than the traditional breast pumps. Fortunately, these breast pumps can either be purchased from baby supply stores or departmental stores or can be rented from hospitals or from a lactation consultant. You can also seek advice from them if you happen not to be sure of which one to use.
It is advisable to wait until after the first 6 months of a baby’s life before one an begin feeding him/her with anything other than breast milk including water, juices or pap. This is because the baby’s digestive system is yet very delicate.
During this period, breast milk is solely all that the baby needs to grow strong. Introducing any other kind of foods to the baby may expose him/her to allergies or diseases.
How to Avoid Breast Leakage Embarrassment
So many women do not know that breast milk leaks. The leakage is as a result of hormonal changes. The hormone oxytocin can make your breast leak by just calling your baby’s even or when your baby is crying.
Experts posited that the hormone will help you bond properly with your newborn, but will make you experience breast leakage when you didn’t expect it. Experts further advised new moms to regularly wear nursing bras to avoid the embarrassment of leakage stain on their precious dresses.
Taking Medications While Still Breastfeeding
It is important to consult with your doctor during this period before taking any medicines so you can be guided on what is safe or unsafe for you and your baby.
Weaning Your Baby
It is advisable that babies be fed exclusively with breast milk for 6 months then continue breastfeeding until 12 months before the baby should be weaned. This will be greatly beneficial to your baby.
General Tips About Breastfeeding
- Try to breastfeed your baby the moment he/she is born because the baby’s instinct to suck is at this time at its peak. Also, the kind of milk produced at this time called Colostrum is yellowish in color and contains antibodies which help the baby fight against diseases.
- The mother’s breast milk production may increase substantially after a few days of giving, this is normal.
- Babies feed for as much as 10 times daily so ensure to feed your baby often.
- If the mother has inverted nipples, it is important to ask the doctor whether or not that will pose a major challenge for mother and child later on.
- Ask help from your doctor if you feel any discomfort or pain during breastfeeding.
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