Breastfeeding comes with its own share of excitement and worries, for all parents but most especially for new parents. After giving birth life can seem pretty bewildering – you’re getting to know your newborn while recovering from the delivery.
Your emotions might be all over the place and you may even begin to feel the pressure from loved ones around to be up and running. All of this can make breastfeeding quite daunting and almost seem like an insurmountable mountain. Several scenarios play through your mind and you wonder if you’re ever going to be up to the task! For this reason and many more, we have decided to give our breastfeeding advice to demystify “BREASTFEEDING” and get you off to a great start.
Breastfeeding is the natural way to provide babies with nutrients required for healthy growth and development. It is the best way to provide your baby with all the nutrition they’ll require most especially in their first 6 months of life. Asides providing nutrients, it is also an easy way to create a bond between you and your baby.
As recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other experts, breastfeeding should be initiated within the first hour of birth, as colostrum (the first milk in your breasts), which is a yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy is available and is known to the the perfect food for the newborn.
Almost all women can breastfeed, provided they have the accurate information, and help required and what’s more? It is cheap, always available and convenient!
Wondering what the fuss is about breastfeeding? Let us enlighten you with a couple of benefits to baby and mother who are breastfed and breastfeed.
……For your baby:
- It helps with the development of eyes, brain and other body systems
- It quenches your baby’s thirst
- Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for the first 6 months of life
- It reduces the risk of obesity in childhood and much later in life
- It helps resist infection and disease
- It protects your baby while their immune system is developing
- It reduces the risk of ovarian or breast cancer
- reduces the risk of haemorrhage (As your baby breastfeeds, the hormone oxytocin is produced and helps in making your uterus contract and reduced blood loss.
- Prolongs the amount of time before your menstrual period begins away
- Can help soothe your baby
- According to a number of women, breastfeeding helps in shedding belly fat.
The best time to start breastfeeding
It is best to start breastfeeding within the first few hours of your baby’s birth. By latching on and moving slowly, your baby helps trigger the cells in your breast to begin producing milk.
The first milk in your breast known as colostrum is said to be the perfect first meal for your newborn. it is very rich in proteins and antibodies that are beneficial to your baby. Mature breast milk gradually replaces the colostrum after about a few days into breastfeeding.
Usually, after delivery your baby is placed on your chest to not only give him warmth, but to also give him access to your breast. Some babies are known to find the breast themselves and almost instantly latch on, while some babies do not try to feed in that time.
If for any reason, you’re not able to breastfeed, or if your baby is unable to feed, then your midwife or nurse will assist you in expressing your milk. It isn’t a must for the baby to latch on to your breast in the first hour, the most important thing is to get your milk production going, so you’re ready when your baby is ready.
Once your milk is expressed, the colostrum can then be fed to your baby using a bottle. You can either use your hand to express or use a breast pump.
Good positioning for successful breastfeeding
The key to successful breastfeeding is comfortable positioning and excellent latching. Never feel embarrassed to ask a nurse to check if your baby is latched on properly as this will affect the way your baby drinks the milk and consequently how he grows and develops.
A poor latch can use sore or cracked nipples, make your baby frustrated and make the whole experience a sad and painful one.
Here’s a video showing how to attach your baby to your breast
Tips to nurse correctly
- Sit comfortably with your back and feet supported – you can be fully upright or you might prefer to be laying back a little bit.
- Unwrap your baby and hold him or her close against you.
- Turn your baby on his or her side so they are wrapped around you with their nose level with your nipple.
- Make sure you support your baby’s neck and shoulders with your hand, but don’t hold your baby’s head — allow him or her to find the best position for attaching to your breast.
- Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby.
- When your baby is latching on, aim your nipple towards the roof of his mouth. This way he will latch on to the nipple, as well as some of the areola beneath it.
- When your baby opens their mouth, bring him or her quickly to your breast so they take a good mouthful of breast tissue.
- As you bring your baby to your breast it can help to hold your breast like you would a sandwich, with your nipple aimed at the roof of your baby’s mouth.
Signs you’re nursing correctly
- Your baby’s mouth is open wide with lips turned out.
- His chin and nose are resting against the breast.
- Your baby’s nose is clear or just slightly touching your breast
- He has taken as much of the areola as possible into his mouth.
- He is suckling rhythmically and deeply, in short bursts separated by pauses.
- You can hear him swallowing regularly.
- Your nipple is comfortable after the first few suckles.
Signs you’re not nursing correctly
- Your baby’s head is not in line with his body.
- He is sucking on the nipple only, instead of suckling on the
areola with the nipple far back in his mouth.
- He is not taking deep, regular sucks
- His cheeks are puckered inward or you hear clicking noises.
- You don’t hear him swallow regularly after your milk production has increased.
- You experience pain throughout the feed or have signs of nipple damage (such as cracking or bleeding).
Is my baby getting enough breast milk?
Is it normal to wonder if your baby is getting enough milk, if you’re feeding your baby on demand and eating well balanced meals as well, then you shouldn’t worry too much.
In the first four weeks, your baby might feed 10 to 12 times in 24 hours and it is important that you feed your baby whenever he is hungry.
Be rest assured that your baby is feeding properly if he
- is feeding at least 8 times a day (with some of those feeds occurring overnight)
- has at least 5 wet disposable diapers or 6 to 8 wet cloth nappies per day
- has 2 or more soft or runny bowel movements per day for around the first 6 weeks of life (babies have fewer bowel movements once they reach about 6 weeks)
- is gaining weight and growing as expected
- is alert when awake, and reasonably contented
Seek help if your child vomit has orange, red, green, brown or black in it. The same applies if your baby has a high temperature, blood in his poo, a sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on his head), or is not back to his birth weight by two weeks of age.
But if he doesn’t have any of these signs and is meeting his growth targets, he’s getting enough milk. You’ll both soon get used to breastfeeding and settle down into a more regular pattern.
To build your milk supply, you have to feed your baby. Demand and supply goes hand in hand. Let your child suck when he is hungry and withdraw his lips before offering the second breast. Do not forget to breastfeed during the night as well.
Remember that breastfeeding is a learning process for you and your baby, so seek help when you need it.