Breastfeeding is up there among the top ways for a mother and child to create that special connection. The bond made is unmatched. Feeding the baby isn’t just crucial for emotional and psychological well-being; it has a lot of health benefits for both mum and child.
If you’re a new mum, you will need to know the technique first. Nursing is a skill like any other. There is sure to be a lot of trial-and-error going on. To make the most of this rewarding experience, we’ll highlight a few tips and guidelines to help you get started.
How to breastfeed
Breastfeeding might be harder than it looks for you, and that’s okay. Moms who can unbutton and successfully latch a baby onto a breast seemingly in one breath have breastfed for some time. Nursing has to be learnt through personal experience.
This feeding is mostly about latching your baby correctly onto the breast. Your baby should have their mouth covering both the nipple and areola. This way, their tongue, lips, and mouth trigger flow from the milk glands.
Just sucking on the nipple will leave the nipple cracked and sore, while the glands won’t be adequately compressed for milk production. This will leave your baby hungry and cranky.
Here are a few steps to help you lock in that latch:
- Hold your baby tummy-to-tummy, their face oriented towards your breasts. Make sure the head is properly aligned to the body and not turned to the side. This eases swallowing
- Gently tickle your infant’s lip to get them to open wide. If they’re still not there yet, squeeze some colostrum or milk onto their lips
- Once their tiny mouth is open, nice and wide, bring the baby forward to the breast. Keep a hold of the breast until your little one has a firm grip and is suckling
- The child’s nose tip and chin should be touching your breast for a proper latch. Baby’s lips should look like fish lips. Suckling comes typically with a continuous suck-swallow-breath rhythm. This pattern can be seen in the baby’s ear, jaw, and cheek. Listen for gulping or swallowing.
On average, consider feeding for 20 to 30 minutes. As the baby is growing, however, their milk intake will change. Ensure they feed using both breasts. Ideally, consider draining one breast significantly before offering breast two, or wait for the baby to finish with breast one, and then offer the other one.
If they’re already full, start the next feeding with the fuller breast.
It’s recommended feeding the baby when they ask for it in comparison to keeping them on a schedule. As patterns vary from baby to baby, feeding timelines aren’t an exact science. However, you can’t go wrong with 8-12 feedings per 24 hours.
Breastfeeding with implants
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that there haven’t been any medical problems associated with breastfeeding with silicone implants.
Mums with breast implants will also be happy to hear that there isn’t any link between silicone implants and any congenital disabilities in infants.
Now that we’ve established breast milk won’t harm the baby, here are a few pro tips to give your infant all the nourishment they need:
- Try to breastfeed as often as you can to trigger and maintain milk production.
- Maintain regular emptying of breasts. You can use a breast pump for this. Doing this increases your milk production ensuring baby gets all the nutrients they need
- Ensure your baby latches well
- If your milk flow is still low, then consult the pediatrician about using formula as a supplement
There are a few risks these implants expose the mum to, though:
- Pain in breasts
- Implants rupturing
- A difference in nipple and breast sensation
- Possibly a need for additional surgery for removal or correction
- Capsular contracture
The benefits of breastfeeding
Nature rarely makes mistakes. This can be seen in the breastfeeding dynamic between mom and baby. Both the baby and mum derive benefits and positives from feeding time.
The baby’s gains include:
- Breast milk is a superfood. It’s no wonder why most health professionals recommend breastfeeding for up to 6 months. Mother’s first milk is a fluid called colostrum. It has a nutritional makeup that can’t be substituted or replaced with formula
- It provides the baby protection against viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing pathogens. One of the antibodies found in breast milk is immunoglobulin A (IgA).
- Breast milk reduces your baby’s risk of diseases and illnesses like diabetes, bowel disorders, allergic diseases, and infections affecting the middle ear, respiratory tract, and gut.
- Mother’s milk has repeatedly been linked to a lower risk of obesity among babies but promoting healthy weight gains
- It might be due to the increased nutritional content in breast milk or the budding bond between mother and child, but kids who’ve been breastfed are higher ranked in intelligence scores, vís-a-vís formula-fed kids.
Baby clearly has a lot going for them when it comes to breast milk. Nature appreciates moms’ care with these benefits in return:
- Breastfeeding may make you lose weight. This is because like, any activity, it burns calories. After 4-5 months of lactation, there are sure to be changes
- The uterus, which expands from the size of a pear to the entire abdomen region, returns to its original size through involution. It is a process driven by oxytocin. Breastfeeding boosts the production of this hormone, thus aiding faster involution and reduced post-delivery bleeding.
- Postpartum depression (PPD) is a dark period experienced by some new mothers. A study conducted in 2012 has shown a reduced risk of experiencing PPD thanks to breastfeeding
- It’s also been seen that mothers who breastfeed are less likely to further along the line develop ovarian and breast cancer
- It offers you great value for money. All you need to do is buy a few breast pumps and pay consultation fees at your lactation consultant’s practice.
Regardless of how you look at it, breastfeeding your child is a win for both of you. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or lactation consultant regularly to ensure your baby grows strong and healthy.