Motherhood is an exciting and cumbersome journey, especially for new mothers who find many facets of motherhood overwhelming. Every mother and baby is unique and has different experiences. Breastfeeding is a personal matter and every woman has the right to approach this issue in their own unique way.
Breastfeeding or nursing is the process of feeding an infant milk from the mother’s breast. Following a taxing birthing process, hormonal changes (and the mood swings that are caused by them), along with the anxious anticipation of being a mother and the pressure of being back in shape soon may affect what you feel or think.
It is essential to find the right tips for breastfeeding that will help you adapt and raise your baby to make a healthy child.
First and foremost, it is important to remember that you don’t need to be up and about, all you need to do is make sure you work on your breastfeeding process. According to WHO, it is extremely important for an infant to consume breastmilk for 6 months to gain immunity, grow well, and be healthy overall. Breast milk is more than just a source of essential nutrients, it also contains antibodies that help the infant build their immunity and grow into healthy strong individuals.
Mature breastmilk does not appear from the first time you nurse a child. Breastmilk arrives in three stages. The best thing about this is that nature has ensured that your baby gets all the necessary nutrients at the right time. Here are the three stages in which breast milk arrives-
The first stage of breastmilk is known as Colostrum. This is the thick yellowish or clear substance that leaks through your breast during pregnancy. Colostrum is arguably the most nutritiously dense liquid and contains vitamins, minerals, and provides numerous antibodies to keep the baby safe from viruses and illnesses. It also coats the intestines and digestive tract, which protects the baby from allergies and digestive problems. It also helps stimulate the first bowel movement and reduces the risk of diseases like jaundice.
Colostrum is produced before birth and should be consumed within the first hour. If you are not able to produce a lot of it, don’t worry, the size of a baby’s stomach is comparable to a pea and hence it doesn’t need more than a few drops of this liquid. Another benefit of providing colostrum to the baby is that it stimulates the breasts for nursing in the future.
This is the milk produced from the second day to the fourth or fifth day. This milk looks more like orange juice and contains lower levels of immunoglobins and protein as compared to colostrum but it has a higher level of fat, carbohydrates, and calories.
In the last stage of breastmilk, this usually appears a week or 10 days postpartum. While it looks watery like skimmed milk may be, it is loaded with nutrients, fats, and carbohydrates.
One of the most confusing aspects of motherhood is the process of latching. Every child is different and the process of latching may be unique for every mother. Here are some useful tips for latching that will help the breastfeeding newborn and their mothers-
It is a common myth that breastfeeding for long hours can make your nipples sore or it ends up hurting your breasts. The best way to avoid this painful experience is to adapt to the correct form of latching.
When latching, make sure you not bend or stoop to reach the child. Instead, hold them near your chest and wait for them to reach out and upward towards the areolas.
When your baby opens its mouth and reaches out, make sure your nipples are directed towards the roof of their mouth, the lower lips should touch your areolas. This helps the baby suckle and makes sure that the process is not painful for you.
Make sure you find a comfortable position to lie in when you start breastfeeding. This is important because each child breastfeeds for different durations. If breastfeeding continues for a longer duration you need to make sure that your back and body are not overwhelmed.
Place your child in a comfortable position. The first few times you nurse them it is important to establish a skin-to-skin connection that helps them feel safe and form a bond with you. It is also important to support your baby on your chest or on your tummy.
Look out for signs that suggest there is something wrong, observe your breasts after breastfeeding. If you are bleeding, experiencing pain and soreness, or if it is crackled or compressed you need to look for a better position.
Is my Baby Feeding Properly?
Another important aspect of breastfeeding is to determine if your baby is swallowing. The best way to do this is to observe if their lower jaw is moving rhythmically and if they are producing a suckling sound. Also note, that the colostrum is just a few drops of liquid and for the first few days your baby might not swallow. Do not panic if you cannot observe your baby swallowing for a few days after birth.
If you feel like you are unable to understand or help your baby latch. Get breastfeeding help from a nurse or lactation consultant in the hospital.
They will feed anywhere between 6 to 8 times a day. Depending on how much milk they consume in each feeding session.
It is also important to make sure you let the baby feed the breast milk from one side before switching to the other. This is because the last bit of breastmilk is the most nutritious and contains the maximum fats and nutrients.
It is also important to take care of your health and make sure you drink plenty of water and nutritious food to make sure your baby gets sufficient milk. With these tips in mind, it should be easier for new mothers to help their babies latch and enjoy the breastfeeding process and make the most of it. Make sure you continue feeding your child breastmilk for six months before you start weaning and give the child additional food.