Health Tip: Breast milk and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your new born baby. Breast milk has many advantages to commercial made products or animal milk, not to mention it is the cheapest way to nourish your child. Of course, due to various reasons, not every mother is able to breast feed her child but, when possible, try strictly breastfeeding your baby for at least 4-6 months before introducing supplementary feeds. Your baby will reap the benefit of it later on in life.

How to breast feed

After wiping your breast with a damp clean cloth or unscented baby wipe, turn your baby’s whole body toward you, chest to chest or belly to belly. Touch your baby’s upper lip with your nipple and, when she opens her mouth wide, pull her onto your breast, holding your breast for support. Her mouth should cover not just the nipple but as much of the areola (or the darker area around the nipple) as possible.

Benefits of breastfeeding

– It’s Natural: Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed you baby

– It is economical

– Creates bonding between mother and child

– It is the safest method of feeding

– Breast milk is Sterile

– Adequate temperature: breast milk is at the perfect temperature for baby

-It is healthier

– Breast milk is easier to digest compared to commercial feeds or animal milk like cow’s or goat’s milk

– It is comforting and relaxing: both mother and baby can feel a sense of calm and easy once breast feeding is done correctly

– It is convenient (particularly at nights): instead of dragging yourself out of bed to mix a bottle of formula, the nursing mother can simple turn to her side while lying comfortably in bed and breast feed her baby

How often should you breast feed?

Babies should be fed on demand. The more you nurse, the more milk is produced. Eight to twelve feedings in 24 hours is normal. Feed newborns whenever they show early signs of hunger like increased alertness or activity, mouthing, or rooting around for your nipple Crying is a late sign of hunger, you should start feeding your baby before crying.

During the first few days of baby’s life, you may have to gently wake your baby to begin nursing, and he may fall asleep again mid-feeding. To keep him awake during feedings, you may want to remove a layer of clothing or gently tap the feet or move the head to make sure your baby is eating often enough, wake him up if it’s been 2-3 hours since the last feed.

Getting comfortable

Since feedings can take up to 40 min or more at a time, pick a cozy spot for you and your baby. Hold the baby in a position that won’t leave your arms and back sore. Support the back of your baby’s head with your hand. The position you choose really depends on what’s comfortable for you. If you are sitting, a nursing pillow can be a big help in supporting your baby. Footstools are helpful in getting comfortable.

Don’t start the feeding until you and your baby are comfortable since you will be in that position for a while.

Challenges

– Mother may not be able to breastfeed because they may be taking certain meditation, recuperating from severe illness or surgery, on radiation therapy, not the biological mother etc.

– Mothers must be patient, breast feeding can be stressful or tiring especially for first time mothers and sometimes for baby

– New born may not latch on right away

– Insufficient quantity of milk because of poor diet or eating habits on the mothers part, inadequate fluid intake for sufficient milk production, 1st few days of breast feeding

– Over supply of milk causing block ducts in the breast

– Nursing mother has less freedom to get daily tasks done

– It may be painful for mothers breasts especially if not done correctly or during the first week when the uterus is contracting with every feed

– Inverted or very large nipples can be a challenge for baby making difficult to feed

– Engorgement of breasts when there is an over production of milk or insufficient emptying of the same

– Breast Infection or absent breasts

– Baby with certain illnesses or conditions like jaundice (the yellowing of the skin), cleft lip/palate (abnormality of mouth or lip), reflux, born prematurely may have difficulty breast feeding or restrained to do so for other reasons

– Multiple births

Benefits for Baby

– Breast-fed children are more resistant to diseases and infections early in life compared to formula-fed children

– Breast-fed children are less likely to contract certain diseases later in life

– Easier to digest compared to cow’s milk and formula

– Colostrum (the watery fluid coming from the breasts) produced in the first few days of breastfeeding contains important nutrients and antibodies essential for baby may not be sufficient to fill the new born

Benefits for Mother

– Reduces the risk of certain diseases (breast/ovarian cancer, diabetes, post partum depression, osteoporosis)

– It causes the uterus to contract into its normal position and size

– Promotes weight loss

– Is a form of contraceptive

Alternatives to breastfeeding

– Bottle feeding

– Cup feeding

– Spoon feeding

– Syringe feeding

In summary “Breast is Best” for both the nursing mom and baby. It creates bonding between mother and child and there are so many benefits for both. So when possible breast feed your baby as much as he demands it in the first few months of life. Always consult with your doctor or health care provider before starting any medication if you are breastfeeding to ensure that it is safe.

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8 thoughts on “Health Tip: Breast milk and Breastfeeding

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