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Breastfeeding Your Baby - A Complete Guide For New Mothers

Breastfeeding Your Baby - A Complete Guide For New Mothers

Breastfeeding is the natural way mothers provide their babies with nutrition in the initial months of their life. Breast Milk is rich in nutrients, and antibodies that often protect the infant from certain infections. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)  and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the baby must be restricted to just breastmilk for the first six months. The AAP also says that breastfeeding can be continued for as long as the mother and the baby want to. However, which comes first is your decision to breastfeed. Not every mother out there wants to breastfeed due to reasons that can vary.

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding For The Baby

Breast Milk has tons of benefits for your baby. Let’s have a look at the long list of them. 

1. Nutrition

Your breastmilk is the primary and ideal source of nutrition for your little one. It is a perfect combination of vitamins, proteins, fats, and sugars - ideal for your baby’s growth. Moreover., it is more easily digestible than formula milk. 

2. Better immunity and lesser infections

Breast Milk is rich in antibodies or immunoglobulins from the mother, which fight against harmful viruses and bacteria and strengthen the baby’s immune system. Colostrum, the first milk that comes out from your breasts post-delivery, contains significant levels of such antibodies. Antibodies are present in breastmilk throughout the duration of a mother's breastfeeding. The mother can pass on some protection against infectious illnesses she has experienced in the past, as well as those she acquires during breastfeeding, through these antibodies. Breast milk helps babies to prevent and fight infections. Breast milk also contains "probiotic" elements. Some help the immune system, while others provide nutrients to the body's healthy bacteria, known as the human microbiome. Well breastfed babies are less likely to fall victim to ear, respiratory, gut infections, allergies, asthma, and diarrhea. They are also less likely to catch frequent colds.

3. Less risk of SIDS

Breastmilk contains the antibodies as aforementioned and it considerably reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), both in the first month and the first year of the baby’s life.

4. A Healthy Weight

Breastfed babies tend to not get overweight. Compared to babies who feed on formula milk, breastfed babies have a lower rate of childhood obesity.

5. Reduced Risk of Diabetes

Breastfeeding essentially reduces the risk of your baby for both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

6. Bonding

Breastfeeding fosters a bonding experience between the mom and the baby by encouraging skin-to-skin touch, as well as greater holding and stroking. Many specialists believe that loving connection throughout the first years of life can aid children and adults with social and behavioral issues.

Breastfeeding can assist mothers to learn to understand their babies' cues and newborns learn to trust their carers. This aids in the development of a baby's early behavior.

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding For The Moms

The babies are not the only ones who get to enjoy the all-around benefits of breastmilk. The mothers have their own share of benefits too. Let’s have a look at the breastfeeding health benefits for new moms.

1. Losing the Pregnancy Weight

When you breastfeed, your body uses fat cells acquired during pregnancy, as well as calories from your food, to fuel milk production and nourish your baby. The moms who exclusively breastfeed, have higher chances of losing more weight after delivery than those who do not.

2. Reduced chances of Postpartum Depression

Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, and thus nursing mothers have lesser chances of experiencing postpartum depression.

3. Fast Recovery

The oxytocin released during breastfeeding can also help improve the uterine contractions that the mother goes through. This will also assist the uterus to return to its original pre-birth size.

4. Reduced Risk of Cancers

Breastfeeding considerably reduces your chances of having breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

5. Reduced Risk of Certain Medical Conditions

Breastfeeding for one to two years reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and high blood pressure, according to research.

Common Breastfeeding Challenges

Like every other thing on the earth, breastfeeding also has its downs. Breastfeeding comes up with a number of challenges that may seem to be more difficult to bear particularly during the initial months. But moms, it will get better with time and practice. So, hold on. Here are ten common breastfeeding challenges that you should know about:

1. Sore Nipples

Sore nipples might be a result of your baby not being positioned and attached to the breast properly. It's crucial to seek care from your midwife, health visitor, or breastfeeding specialist as soon as possible if you're experiencing pain or discomfort.

2. Insufficient Milk Supply

You might be concerned that your baby is not getting enough milk when you initially start nursing. It may take some time for you to feel sure that your baby is getting the care they require. At each feeding, offer your newborn both the breasts and alternate which breast you start with to assist boost your milk supply. Keeping your child close and holding them skin to skin will also help.

3. Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement occurs when your breasts are overloaded with milk. They could be firm, tight, or painful.  Engorgement can occur during the early stages of breastfeeding when both you and your baby are still getting used to it. Your milk production may take a few days to adjust to your baby's needs.  Engorgement can also occur when your kid is older and no longer needs to be fed as regularly, such as when they begin eating solid foods.

4. Latching Challanges

Breastfeeding is a skill that both you and your child must master. It may take both of you some time to get used to it. If breastfeeding is painful for you or your baby does not seem content after feedings, there is a possibility that your baby is not latching on properly.

5. Blocked Milk Duct

If breast engorgement persists, a blocked milk duct may develop. A tiny, sensitive bump in your breast may be felt.  Feeding from the afflicted breast on a regular basis may assist. Position your baby's chin towards the lump if feasible so that it can feed from that area of the breast.

6. Mastitis

Mastitis (breast inflammation) occurs when a blocked milk duct is not cleared. It causes the breast to ache and feel hot. This may even make you feel very ill with flu-like symptoms. It is critical to continue nursing. Starting with the delicate breast may be beneficial. Immediately consult your doctor if you do not get better after 12-24 hours, or if just the feeling worsens.

7. Breast Abscess

Mastitis, if left untreated or not responding to treatment, can evolve into a breast abscess, which may require surgery to empty.

8. Breastfeeding and Thrush

When your nipples become cracked or injured, thrush infections can occur. This means the thrush-causing candida fungus can enter your nipple or breast.  Consult your health visitor if you feel you or your child has a thrush infection.

9. Nursing Strike

This is when your little bundle decides to go naughty and suddenly refuses to breastfeed after doing so properly for months.

    Signs Your Baby Is Hungry

    As a new mother, you may find it a bit challenging to understand certain factors like how much you should feed your baby and how you will know when your baby is hungry. The little one will give out signs for when it’s hungry and you need to act upon them. It might take some time initially, but eventually, your reaction will be automatic.. Here, are a few signs that babies give when they are hungry: 

    1. Turning their head, or moving their jaw, or mouth to find your breast, which is known as rooting. 
    2. Turning more active and alert. 
    3. Sticking out their tongue, or licking their lips. 
    4. Opening and closing their mouths. 
    5. Moving its fists to its mouth. 
    6. Sucking their hands. 
    7. Fussiness 

    Signs That Indicate Your Baby Is Full

    While it’s important to know the signs of hunger, it’s equally important to understand when the baby is full. Some of the signs are as follows:

    1. Turning to the other side of your nipple. 
    2. “Falling off” or releasing your breast. 
    3. Relaxing their body. 
    4. Opening their fists. 

    Once the baby is done eating, try to burp it, and offer the other breast. If your little one does not want to eat anymore or does not want to latch, then it is no longer hungry.  

    Tips For Breastfeeding

    Below we have listed the ABCD of Breastfeeding for new moms. This will essentially assist you and your little one in the whole process of breastfeeding. Have a look:

    1. Awareness

    Keep a close watch on your baby’s signs of hunger and breastfeed it whenever it is hungry. This is referred to as "on-demand" feeding. You may need to nurse eight to twelve times every 24 hours in the first few weeks. Don’t wait till your little munchkin bursts out in tears which is a sign of them being too hungry. 

    2. Be Patient

    Breastfeed for as long as your baby desires at each feeding. Feedings should not be rushed for your baby. Breastfeeding is normally done for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast. 

    3. Comfort

    Comfort is the key. Relax during breastfeeding, and your breastmilk will "let down" and flow more easily. Before you start breastfeeding, make yourself comfortable with cushions to support your arms, head, and neck, as well as a footrest to support your feet and legs.

    4. Do Offer Both the Sides

    It's best to breastfeed from both sides at each feeding in the first few weeks post-delivery. Breastfeeding on both sides will aid in the production of breast milk while your milk supply is being established.

    Breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis are some of the most frequent complications associated with breastfeeding that can be prevented by offering both breasts to your child. You can choose the feeding style that works best for you and your kid after four to six weeks when your milk supply is firmly established and your baby is gaining weight at a proper pace.

    Foods that help enriching your milk supply

    Generations of lactating mothers have put their faith in a few food items to increase their breast milk supply. Food items like Fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, papaya seeds, Sesame seeds, Oats, Barley, Garlic, and Green leafy vegetables have been trusted by many for years for boosting their breast milk production. These are rich in proteins, folate, calcium, iron, vitamins, and minerals and are great for you and your baby’s health.  

    Breastfeeding vs Formula Milk

    Well, both have their own sets of pros. While breast milk is easily digestible, formula milk is not digested that quickly, and hence, the tiny stomach of your little baby remains full for a longer time. Babies fed on formula milk, as a result, don’t need to be fed as often as babies fed on breastmilk. Breastfed babies, as a consequence, are less likely to be constipated and gassy than formula milk-fed babies. Formula milk can be fed to the babies by anyone at any point in time which is not the case with babies fed on breastmilk. So you can easily focus on your work while someone else feeds your baby with formula milk. However, breastmilk can also be pumped into a bottle allowing public feedings. Your partner can assist with overnight feedings and bond with your child which is again not possible with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding though is a wonderful bonding opportunity for the mother and the baby. Nursing moms will have to follow certain restrictions when it comes to their food habits.

    Both breastmilk and formula milk have their own sets of benefits. We have already discussed the benefits of breastmilk on your baby in the section above. While many people raise eyebrows upon seeing that you are feeding your baby formula milk, we want to assure you that it’s absolutely fine to do so. It’s your choice. Plus, many issues like lack of supply of breastmilk also lead to mothers opting for formula milk for their babies. At times, the doctor may also recommend formula milk for your baby. So, don’t feel that mommy guilt. It’s absolutely all right.  

    FAQs

    1) How often should I feed my baby?
    Feed your baby as often as it wants to feed. Watch out for the signs of hunger, and feed them. Don’t wait for your baby to cry, which is a sign of too much hunger. The hunger signs have been discussed in detail above. 

    2) How to get the baby to latch during breastfeeding?
    You have to learn and practice the skill of breastfeeding in order to nail it. Start by placing your baby facing you in a comfortable breastfeeding position. Take out one of your breasts from your bra or clothing. With your nipple, gently touch your baby's lower lip. Its lips will expand wide automatically, and its tongue will cup and lower inside its mouth.  Place your baby's mouth on your nipple directly. It will instinctively close their eyes and start drawing.

    If your baby's lips are pursed outward and their mouth covers your nipple and most of your darker areola, you know your baby is in the right position.

    If the baby's suction causes you any discomfort or pain, gently break it. Slide your pinkie finger between your nipple and the corner of your baby's lips. Apply downward pressure. The latch will be released. Pull away your baby. Try to get the little one to expand its lips as wide as possible before bringing them back to your nipple. Rep the stages until the latch is comfortable and your child is breastfeeding in a consistent, smooth rhythm.

    3) How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
    The baby is getting enough milk if it produces 6 to 8 wet diapers per day, steadily gains weight after the weight drop in the initial months post-delivery, and shows fewer cues of hunger that implies it is well fed.   

    4) How to hold the baby while breastfeeding?
    Bring your baby's tummy to the stomach across the front of your body. Hold your newborn in the crook of the opposite arm from the breast you're feeding — left arm for the right breast, and right arm for the left breast. With your open palm, support the back of your baby's head. Support your breast from the underside in a U-shaped grasp with the other hand. Bring the mouth of the infant to your breast. Do not stoop or lean forward. Cradle your infant near to your breast instead.

    Key Takeaways

    It's your personal choice to breastfeed.  Not everyone is able or willing to breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding is one approach to ensure your kid gets the nutrition they need during those crucial first months of life. It's crucial to obtain plenty of rest, consume a healthy diet, and keep hydrated during the process. Thus, your milk supply will be strong and your energy levels high, allowing you to continue nursing as desired.


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    About Me

    Hi, I am Ekta Dharap, a mom of a tiny tod. I have learnt that to take optimum care of your little one, it's imperative to first take care of your own wellness and well-being. Besides, our children look up to us, and how we treat ourselves. This makes putting self care as top priority, without an ounce of guilt.

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