Breastfeeding provides many benefits to both mother and baby. Prolactin (a hormone produced during breastfeeding) has a calming effect and creates a beautiful bond between the mother and the baby.
Breastfeeding is one of the best and nutritious forms of feeding your little one. Breastfed babies are less susceptible to illnesses, infections, and many more problems. The high level of minerals, carbohydrates, and fats in breast milk contribute towards the healthy development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. Breastfeeding also reduces a mother’s risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and urinary tract infections.
#The best time to start breastfeeding
The first time you hold your little angel in the delivery room is the best time to start breastfeeding. At this stage, your body produces small amounts of a very special milk called colostrum. This milk helps in protecting your baby from many infections. Your baby is very tiny, so she needs minimal amounts of this milk to fill up. As she grows older, your milk will change, and you will produce more of it to meet the baby’s demands.
Turn your baby’s body towards you and touch her upper lip with your nipple. When she opens her mouth wide, pull her towards your breast and hold your breast for support. Your baby’s mouth should not just cover the nipple but as much of the areola as possible. Do not panic if your baby seems to have trouble finding or staying on your nipple. Breastfeeding requires a lot of practice and patience, and do not hesitate to ask for help. If your baby is premature, you may not be able to nurse right away.
But you should start pumping your milk as your baby will receive this milk from a bottle or a tube. When your baby is strong enough, you can begin nursing. Nursing should not be painful for you. Your baby’s mouth should cover a big part of your areola, and your nipple should be far back in her mouth. If you feel some pain and latch-on hurts, break the suction by inserting your little finger in your baby’s mouth and then try again. The frequency of nursing depends on your newborn.
#Do not wait for your baby to cry
You should nurse your baby whenever she shows signs of hunger, such as mouthing, increased level of activity, or rooting around your nipple. Crying is a very late sign of hunger, so do not wait for your baby to cry. Start feeding your baby before she starts crying. The more you nurse your baby, the more milk you will produce. Nursing 8 to 12 times a day is enough. During the first few days, your baby may fall asleep during feedings. Gently wake your baby to begin feeding again.
#Choose a comfortable position
In the early days, feeding a baby can take up to 45 minutes. So you need to sit in a comfortable position. Pick a cozy and comfortable seat for nursing your baby. Take a position that won’t leave your arms and back aching. Support the back of your baby’s head with your hand. If you are sitting, a comfortable nursing pillow can help in supporting your baby. Do not start feeding your baby unless both of you are in a comfortable position.
#Stick to a healthy diet
You do not need any special diet while nursing your baby, and a regular healthy diet is all you need. Your body will produce milk even if your nutrition level is at par, but it is essential to eat nutritious foods to ensure that milk quality is good. Do not count your calories when you are nursing, and follow your hunger and drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated.
Your body is working round the clock to produce milk for your baby. So it is all right if your body feels extra hungry. Eat small amounts of healthy snacks in between your meals to keep your energy level high. On average, breastfeeding women need about 300 to 500 calories extra than the women who are not.
#Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
You have to limit the intake of alcohol and caffeine when you are breastfeeding. If your baby seems more gassy or irritable every time you eat a particular food item, try eliminating that food for some time and check if she is better off without them in your breast milk. As a breastfeeding mother, you have to take very good care of yourself so that you can adjust to your newborn’s schedule. A well-rested and relaxed mother produces more milk and finds it easier to breastfeed. So try to take enough rest and limit the number of visitors you and your baby have during the first few weeks.
Focus all your attention on caring for your new baby and getting plenty of rest. It is normal for you to feel exhausted and overwhelmed by your baby’s constant demands. Many questions may arise in your head. Although women have nursed their babies for centuries, some women may face difficulties early on. Do not worry and have patience. Some of the most common breastfeeding problems are:
Your breasts may feel excessively full and uncomfortable. Nursing your infant frequently is one of the best ways to relieve this problem. You can also reduce engorgement by using breast pumps.
This is an inflamed breast infection. This is generally detected when a mother experiences breast tenderness, redness, pain, or swelling. You can prevent this problem by breastfeeding frequently and relieving engorgement.
This problem develops as a result of improper latch-on or incorrect positioning. Wearing flowy and breathable feeding dresses that allow for proper air circulation can help in healing.
You do not have to suffer in silence as every problem has a solution. Do not feel discouraged. Call your healthcare provider if you are suffering from any of the above problems. Fortunately, many of these problems can be treated.
After 5 to 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, you can start introducing solids in your baby’s diet. You can begin weaning the baby from breastfeeding by substituting feedings with other semi-solid foods and infant formulas.