Jul 30 , 2019
How to breastfeed? Have you ever wondered? I guess not. Well, at least not until you actually started doing that. This is a common mistake. Every woman thinks breastfeeding is super easy, natural. The instincts would lead you. True. And Wrong! Yes, the maternal instinct is very strong, no doubt here. But it is a good practice to learn some theory first.
Breast Milk Composition
Breast milk is unique baby food. As of today, no one has yet come up with any analogues completely corresponding to it. Nothing but breast milk fully meets the needs of infants. Its composition comprises up to 500 essential things needed for a baby, many of them cannot be created artificially. The mother’s body begins to work on the creation of breast milk long before her little offspring sees the world.
The appearance of milk in the mammary glands occurs due to prolactin (also called PRL or lactogenic hormone), which is responsible for its allocation. The basis of breast milk is the lymph and blood where all the nutrients fetch up, modified in the process of digestion.
Every woman is unique, so is the breast milk, yet a set of components in this product is the same for all lactating mothers.
The composition of breast milk includes:
- Biologically active water(88%) – the main component, perfectly digestible by infants. If the baby is fully breastfed, he doesn’t need to be given any additional fluids, like water;
- Carbohydrates(7%) are presented in the form of lactose (milk sugar). Their function is to accelerate the development of the brain and nervous system, promote the full absorption of iron and calcium, as well as bifidum factor with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effect. They also normalize the bowel function;
- Fats(3.8%) – they help to strengthen both the immune and central nervous systems. The composition of fats includes cholesterol (needed for vitamin D production), bile and main hormones. The balance of fats and carbohydrates in breast milk is ideal for the growing baby;
- Proteins(1%) – the basis for the baby’s rapid growth and weight gain. They include whey protein, taurine (for CNS and brain development), lactoferrin (iron source), nucleotides (DNA building material), lactase (for lactose-splitting), lipase (for complete digestion of fats);
- The remaining components(0.2%) – iron, vitamins, minerals, 20 kinds of hormones (growth factors), antibodies, white blood cells (immune defence).
The quality of breast milk in nursing mothers is not constant, its composition may change under the influence of many factors:
- Time of the day. Daytime milk is thicker than at nighttime.
- Weather. The milk is more liquid during the hot weather and thickens on the cold.
- Health of the mother. The composition of breast milk changes with weakened immunity or taken drugs.
- Baby’s activity. The milk for newborns is more liquid (to substitute water). The harder the baby is sucking, the thicker and more fatty the milk gets.
If a woman has twins, the composition of breast milk may differ, for it is necessary to adapt to the needs of each child. The volume and quality of milk largely depend on the nursing mother’s health, nutrition, sleep, medication, and addictions (like nicotine and alcohol).
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Not only is breast milk unique in composition, it is also distinctive in its properties. The baby gets tons of health benefits of breastfeeding, such as active mental development, normal digestion, strengthen immunity, prevention of pneumonia, diabetes, obesity, allergies, atherosclerosis, diarrhea, and many other dangerous diseases.
- Woman’s milk is a wonderful antidepressant. And I’m not talking about the benefits for the baby now. It mostly concerns lactating mothers. I am referring to the use of the processes of breast milk’s formation and feeding your baby with it, thus developing maternal instinct and affection to your child.
- According to the Swedish researchers, breast milk contains alpha-lactalbumin, a protein that is able to successfully deal with 40 types of cancer.
- Breastfeeding is able to improve the immune system response during vaccination.
- The milk forms a protective barrier for the baby to guard against allergies and infections. The presence of stem cells in it provides the regeneration and protection, as the source of antibodies, resistant even to diseases that the baby could get from his mother.
- Antibacterial properties of milk can be used for the treatment of a child’s rhinitis, eye conjunctivitis or healing cracked nipples of nursing mothers.
- Breast milk is not just the food for the baby, it is an important ritual of communication with his mother: an opportunity to calm down; get rid of ailments and fears. It also helps the baby to have a sound sleep.
- Breastfeeding has economic benefits as well: the mother’s milk is always suitable for consumption, has no expiration date and there’s no necessity to cook. In other words, breast milk is the priceless free milk for a young family budget, since buying formula is quite an expensive alternative.
How To Breastfeed. Essential Breastfeeding Tips
- Nurse within the first few hours after delivery. It’s important to make “skin to skin” contact right after the delivery. This helps to evoke natural instincts and lactation mechanism in the body of a newly fledged mother. Your baby should be latched to the breast within the first thirty minutes. The milk hasn’t come yet, but there is a much more valuable substance – colostrum. It is a thick clear liquid that contains many essential agents, like enzymes, vitamins, antibodies, immunoglobulins, as well as protein, fat, and carbohydrates. For its rich composition, colostrum is called “the first vaccination” for the baby.
- Avoid formula at the beginning. Colostrum is produced in small amounts yet its rich composition fully satisfies the need of the newborn child for nutrients. The formula, on the contrary, can play a low-down trick with your lactation. Firstly, after eating formula, the child doesn’t want to latch on to the breast and therefore receives much less valuable colostrum. Secondly, your baby may find the nipple on the bottle more appealing because it is much easier to suck the milk out of the bottle than the breast.
- Make sure the latch is right. The child must latch not only to the nipple and areola but also to the area around it with lips flanged out like the flower. Only with this type of latch can the baby suck as much milk as he needs. It will also help the mother to avoid nipple soreness. Poor latch means the baby can have problems with weight gain and swallowing excess air that eventually leads to excess gas and colics with sleepless nights. And I’m sure this is the last thing you’d like to cope with.
- Feed your baby on demand. This is easy to do. Meaning, you give breast to the baby on his every cry. If the child refuses the breast perhaps he has other concerns than hunger. He can be hot, cold, wet, or just feeling uncomfortable. However, in most cases, the breast helps to calm the baby. At first, the newborn can literally spend hours “hanging” on your breast. This doesn’t mean he is hungry. Breast milk is digested very quickly, and sucking breast for the baby is also a way to be close to his mother, calm down or fall asleep.
- Avoid pacifiers. The essence of breastfeeding is that the baby gets the breast on demand. Lactation depends on breastfeeding. If a child gets a pacifier, the breast is not stimulated enough, thus less milk comes in next time. If lactation has not been established, the use of the pacifiers can easily lead to its elimination.
- Drink hot fluids 30 minutes before nursing. This helped me a lot. Hot fluids aid in milk production. When it seemed to me that my baby didn’t get enough milk, drinking hot water would be the first thing on the list.
- Use different breastfeeding positions. Not only is it comfortable for both the mother and the baby, but it’s also quite beneficial for the mother’s breast, for nursing in different positions helps to prevent galactostasis and further breast inflammation – mastitis. Being in different positions, the baby sucks milk from different mammary ducts. The basic rule in this case: the baby sucks more milk from the place where his chin rests.
- Nighttime feedings are important. Prolactin, responsible for milk production, is produced in large amounts during the night. Nursing in nighttime is needed throughout the entire period of breastfeeding. In this case, co-sleeping is a wonderful option that makes nighttime breastfeeding super easy.
- Breastfed baby doesn’t need additional water. Breast milk contains 80% of water, thus supplying the baby with all necessary fluids. Those first portions of milk – the so-called front milk – serve him as a drink, and back thick milk as the food. Additional water may be required to newborns only in extreme cases, such as hot climates. However, it’s better to give water with a spoon rather than a bottle to avoid nipple confusion.
- Wait until 6 months for solid foods. A portion of the mother’s milk is much more beneficial for the baby than a jar of squash puree. Even after 6 months, solid foods are good for breastfed children in terms of exploring new tastes and consistencies, not to make up for the lack of nutrients. Another reason to postpone solid foods is to give your baby’s digestive system the required time for its maturing. Remember that children have great protection from illnesses as long as they breastfed, so do not try to substitute breast milk with solid foods. At least wait until you celebrate your baby’s first birthday.
- Continue breastfeeding even if you are sick. Modern medicine has already developed products that are compatible with breastfeeding. If it is seasonal flu – nursing is not only possible but necessary. Breast milk contains antibodies to the infection, so the baby gets his portion of immunity each time you breastfeed. In case he catches the flu, after all, the baby takes it in stride.
- Seek professional help. If you still feel you have a problem with breastfeeding, correct latching, milk let-downs, or just not sure if your baby gets enough milk (usually if he screams a lot during day&night) do not hesitate to use expert advice. Meet the lactation consultant as soon as possible. He will provide you with the necessary information and guide you through the whole process. So you will be confident everything is ok next time.
Breastfeeding Positions & Techniques
- The cradle hold. I think this one is the most popular, as well. No wonder, it’s very comfy! And by far the majority of babies love this hold. It reminds them of their prenatal time when they were growing in your belly. This position requires you to cradle your baby’s upper body (head, neck, spine, and bottom) in your arm. You can use your other hand to hold his legs or put it on your lap or a pillow that rests on your lap. His body should be facing you. And his lower arm will hug your back. This is the classic nursing position that should work for both you and your baby.
- Reclining position. This one is awesome since you can breastfeed and snooze in the meantime. Lie on your side. Take a pillow and put it under your head on your arm. It’s better to bend your knees. Draw your baby close to you. His body should be facing yours. You can cradle his head with your arm or put your bottom arm under his neck. If your baby fails to reach your nipple, try to put him on a small pillow. This position is great for nursing during nighttime as well as during the day when you need some rest. Use this position at the start of breastfeeding if you are recovering from cesarean or tough delivery.
Keep to a healthy & well-balanced diet
Quick Nutrition Tips For Nursing Moms
- Eliminate overeating. Eat small portions more frequently.
- Breakfast is very important. Make it nutritious. Never skip breakfast.
- Plan to have three big meals and two-three snacks during the day.
- Try to plan your menu in advance
- If you have any doubts about a certain product or dish, better stay out of it
- If you are really craving for a product or a dish that is on the «stay out of it» list, you can afford a little bit to feel yourself better
- feeling hungry just before the bedtime? Drink a glass of milk or any liquid food. It is easier to digest.
- If circumstances have forced you to drink alcohol, you can afford yourself a little glass of red wine or champagne.
- Do not forget to take vitamins (your baby gets everything he needs from your body. You never know if there’s enough left for you. So make sure to take extra help from multi-vitamins & mineral complexes for pregnant & lactating women)
Read the full article here: https://triptomotherhood.com/how-to-breastfeed-essential-tips-and-techniques