Motherhood is magical. It puts the whole world into perspective. It gives you the power and ability to fall in love with someone way before than the rest of your family. Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t knew you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed.
O, thou with a beautiful face, may the child reared on your milk, attain a long life, like the gods made immortal with drinks of nectar. – Sushruta –
Breast milk for your baby is like ice-cream, penicillin, and drug ecstasy all wrapped in two pretty packages. Breast milk is full of nutrients, some of which can’t be found in formula. The first feed after birth “the liquid gold” is rich in proteins, full of antibodies and mild laxative to help pass the first stool.
Early initiation of breastfeeding, within 1 hour of birth, protects newborn from catching infections and reduces mortality rate.
Breastfeeding is your child’s right to eat. Both American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of infancy. After that introduce other foods like fruits, vegetables and grains along with some breastfeeding.
Here, we will discuss about breastfeeding benefits, proper latching technique, your dietary needs, how and when to wean and more.
Benefits for baby
1. Ideal nutrition
Breast milk is rich in all nutrients a baby needs for first six months. Nature has designed it beautifully according to baby’s need and age. It’s more suitable and easily digestible for your baby than any formula milk available in the market.
2. Immunity booster
There is no need to emphasise how important it is to have a good immune system after this ongoing pandemic situation. Breast milk helps your baby develop a strong immune system. It is also rich in immunoglobulins or antibodies which helps your baby fight various pathogen after coming to this world of pathogens.
3. Weight gain
Breast milk composition changes as per the age and nutritional needs of the baby. This will help your baby achieve a healthy weight gain and prevent childhood obesity which is commonly seen in formula fed babies.
4. Reduce diabetes risk
Exclusively breast fed babies are found to have lower risk of developing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
5. Lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Studies have show that breastfed babies have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome both in first month as well as during first year of life.
Benefits for mothers
1. Reduces the risk of postpartum depression
Mothers who breastfeed their infants have lower risk of experiencing postpartum depression.
2. Achieve pre pregnancy weight quickly
Production of milk requires burning of extra calories which ultimately helps nursing mothers shed those extra pounds gained during pregnancy easily as compared to non breastfeeding mothers.
3. Quick recovery
When you breastfeed your body produces higher levels of oxytocin. This hormones improves uterine contractions which helps uterus return to normal size quickly.
4. Lowers the risk of cancer
Mothers who breastfeed their infants for a longer time are found to have lower risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Read on how to self examine your breast for lumps
How to latch properly
The initial days of breastfeeding could be troublesome for you, just have some patience, and let the time flow. Breastfeeding is an art which you will acquire over time. Let you baby guide you what he/she wants.
No matter what position you use to feed your baby, it’s important to get a good latch. Good latch will help you feel comfortable and help your baby get the most milk in less time.
Steps for a good latch
- Tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple. This will help baby open their mouth wide.
- Aim your nipple just above your baby’s top lip. Make sure your baby’s chin isn’t tucked into their chest.
- Aim your baby’s lower lip away from the base of your nipple. Baby’s lips should be turned outward like a fish. Your baby should lead into the breast chin first and then latch onto your breast.
Signs of a good latch
- Your baby’s mouth opens wide around your breast, not just the nipple.
- Your baby’s lips turn out.
- The latch is comfortable and pain free.
- Your baby’s chin touches your breast.
- Your baby’s tongue cups under your breast.
- You hear or see swallowing.
Your dietary need while breastfeeding
It’s a kind of catabolic process for your body and you will need extra calories to support milk production.
Although there is no recommended diet for nursing mothers but you do need to consume more calories than non nursing mothers or mothers who aren’t lactating.
In the first six months, you need an additional 500 calories per day. After six months, you’ll still need an additional 400 to 500 calories per day.
Adequate fluid intake is crucial to keep adequate milk flowing while keeping you hydrated. Drink water at regular intervals and don’t wait till you feel thirsty.
The process of ‘Weaning‘
After completion of six months of exclusive breastfeeding, now it’s time to introduce to your baby the world of flavours. Follow your baby’s lead as they begin to eat other food items and start drinking cow’s milk, juice, or other beverages.
Go slow, be patient. Remember those initial days when you started breastfeeding, it was not easy, Right? Gradually reduce the frequency of breastfeeding. This will help your baby adapt to this new feeding schedule. Slowly your breasts will also decrease the production of milk thereby relieving metabolic stress.
Start skipping day time feeds first as this is the time when your baby is occupied with other stuff and won’t mind missing the routine sucking. Avoid feeding baby at your regular feeding places as familiar surrounding might increase the urge of breastmilk.
Take home message
Breastfeeding is a personal choice and not everyone goes for it. But, before making any decision one should always give a second thought on this.
Breastfeeding is not just a way to provide nutrition to your baby, it’s also a very strong way of developing a strong bond with your child.
If you decide to breastfeed, it’s important to get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, and stay hydrated. This will keep your milk flowing and enthusiasm high.
Thanks For Reading!!!
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