Breast feeding is not merely a feeding process but it’s also about comforting and nurturing the baby. It also helps to build a strong bond between the mother and the child. Besides having all the nutrients required for the growth of the baby up to six months, breast milk is filled with disease fighting elements that helps to protect the baby from the diseases.
The first milk produced by a mother after child birth is called colostrum and it is rich with a substance called immunoglobulin A which protects the baby from the invading germs by creating a protective layer over the mucous membrane in the intestine, throat and nose of the baby. Matured breast milk also contain immunoglobulin A in small amounts and the protection provided by the breast milk last lifelong and reduces the risks of having childhood leukaemia, diabetes, eczema, asthma etc. Moreover breast milk also contains important polyunsaturated fatty acids which are essential for the proper development of the brain and improves the IQ of the baby.
Breast Feeding Benefits for Mothers
Breast feeding helps to shrink the uterus to a great extent and thus helps the uterus to reach the pre-pregnancy state. It also regulates the postpartum bleeding and reduces the chances of having anemia and the feeding time helps the mother to sit and relax and calm the body. Lot of calories are spent for producing the breast milk and this helps the mother to lose considerable amount of weight and thus helps to avoid obesity. Breast feeding also reduces the risk of having ovarian cancer, breast cancer etc. Only thing mother should practice is to keep her breast clean and more over it’s the best method to comfort a sick or distressed baby. Babies fed on breast milk grow faster and healthier than babies fed on formula milk.
When to Start Breast Feeding
Mothers can start feeding their babies right away from the delivery room and the small amount of colostrum that the mother’s body produces is enough to fill the stomach of the new born. If the baby is premature, then the mother won’t be able to nurse the baby soon after delivery and in such cases mothers should pump out the breast milk. The milk would be fed to the baby through a bottle or tube till the baby has the strength to suck the milk on its own.
How to Breast Feed
There are different positions for latching a baby and mothers can use any position that is comfortable to them.
Cradle position is the widely used position for latching, in which the mother should hold the baby in such a way that the baby’s head should rest on the crook of the mother’s arm and, the mother can use her arm & hand to support the baby’s back and, the bottom. In this position baby will be lying sideways facing the mother and, she should be keeping her breast right in front of the baby’s mouth.
Football position is another way of latching a baby during which the baby should be tucked under the arm with his/her head resting on the mother’s hand. Mother should support the body of the baby with her forearm. This position is widely used by mothers’ having twins or those who are recovering from cesarean or mothers’ having small babies.
Lie down on the side is another latching position in which mothers lie on their sides with babies facing them. In this position mothers can use pillows to prop their shoulders and head.
For feeding, touch the upper lips of the baby with the nipple and when the baby opens his/her mouth pull the baby close to the breast by holding breast. Allow the baby to take not only the nipple but also the areola which is the darker portion surrounding the nipple. Every time mother should feed both the breast to the baby and for breaking the latch insert a finger in to the corner of the baby’s mouth and control the suction and then pull the breast. If the breast is pulled without inserting the finger then it may hurt the nipple and lead to soared nipple. Take care to wipe the nipple with a clean and wet cloth before and after latching to avoid infections. Mother’s should feed their baby in every two hours interval and since feeding takes twenty to forty minutes, mothers have to use pillows to support their back and arms. Before starting the latching, ensure that both the baby and mother are in comfortable positions and baby can breathe easily without any hindrance. If the milk production is more than that is required for the baby then the mothers should press their breast and let the excess milk flow down. Else it may cause breast engorgement or mastitis.
Breast Feeding Diet
Breast milk is the food that the baby can have up to six month and if the mother does not take proper food breast milk won’t be sufficient to meet the nutritional requirement of the baby. If the mother doesn’t eat properly then the body will draw all the nutrients required for the milk from the reserve which then gets depleted easily and mother becomes weak soon. Hence it is ideal to take small meals and healthy snack in between the meals to maintain the energy level. Since the body is working around the clock to produce milk, breast feeding mothers require at least 300 to 500 calories more and hence should take 2000 to 2700 calories a day. Mothers should restrict their intake of caffeine, alcohol etc. as they may be passed on to the baby along with their breast milk. Usually mothers can consume most of the foods but if the baby is experiencing gastric problems after the mother has taken a particular food then try to eliminate it from the diet. It will be ideal to include more green leafy vegetables, fruits, salads etc. and limit the spicy foods in the diet as they tend to improve the production and quality of the milk.