All About Breastfeeding

Breast milk contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, enzymes, and white cells that help build your baby’s immunity. Your baby’s immune system is still developing during his first six months after birth. Breast milk gives your baby the necessary nutrition required during the first six months and also protects your baby against infections, allergies, and other potential medical dangers.

Most people think breastfeeding comes naturally to women once they give birth, however like any skill breastfeeding too needs to be learned and is mastered through practice. Midwives and lactation specialists teach or train new mothers how to breastfeed.

What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding?

For The Baby:

Breast milk has all the necessary nutrients required for your baby’s growth and development. Breast milk has enzymes and white cells that help the baby fight against gastroenteritis, diarrhea, ear and chest infections, diabetes, and other conditions. Moreover, feeding your baby with breast milk reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS).

For You:

Breastfeeding has benefits for the mother too. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of bleeding after birth for the mother. It helps you to shed some pounds

and regain your pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding is known to reduce the risk of conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis. Breastfeeding also makes you and your baby intimate, giving you an opportunity to develop an emotional bond with your baby.

How To Breastfeed?

Skin to skin contact with your baby right after birth helps in developing a deep emotional bond and triggers strong hormonal responses. These hormonal responses are linked with greater breastfeeding success. Doctors suggest immediate skin to skin contact even after a c-section birth.

The first few days after birth are crucial for both you and your baby. Your breasts produce the first milk also called as colostrum. This milk is highly nutritious for your baby. Your breasts are tender and soft during the production of colostrum. As the milk matures from colostrum, your breasts become full and firm.  It takes around two weeks for the milk to turn whiter and become thinner in texture.

The continuous production of milk depends on the frequency of emptying your breasts, thereby making breastfeeding necessary. When you breastfed, a hormone called oxytocin is released

which pushes the milk to the nipple openings through the ducts. This is called as the let-down reflex and takes about 60 seconds. Some women feel a tingling sensation or feel their breasts to be full while some others may not feel anything even if milk is leaking from their nipples.

Am I Breastfeeding Well?

In the initial days, breastmilk is your baby’s food and drink. Therefore, it common for your baby to feed seven to twelve times a day. Feeding your baby according to his needs frequently will help empty your breasts and produce more milk according to your baby’s needs.

For the first six months of your baby’s life, breastmilk is enough food for them. During this period, your baby does not require any other food or drink, this is also because your baby’s system is still developing and he may not be able to digest a few foods yet. If your baby wets six or more times and has at least one bowel motion in a day, it is clear that your baby is getting enough food.

What If I Can’t

Some women may not be able to breastfeed their baby due to various reasons and in these cases, it may leave the mother confusing. If you can’t breastfeed, it may leave you confused and worried. Talk to your doctor, partner or a friend about it. Most doctors or health practitioners advise formula for such mothers.

Formula has enough nutrients your baby requires for growth and development. Though breastfeeding acts as an intimate moment for the mother to bond with her child, you can still bond with your baby even if you can’t breastfeed. Hold your baby close when you feed him the formula. Talk to your baby and make feeding a special time for both of you. Also, make sure to read and follow the instructions on the formula bottle. Ensure you wash the bottles carefully and sterilize them so as to prevent any illness to your baby.