Seven Steps To Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding or nursing is the process of feeding breast milk to the baby. Breastmilk is the food produced in a woman’s breast after her delivery. Breast milk is considered the ideal food for newborns. As per the research and further studies conducted, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend exclusive breastfeeding is essential for infants at least up to six months.

Why Is Breast Milk Important?

What makes breast milk the most essential food for newborns? The main reason behind this is breast milk is the most precious natural food available for your baby without any contamination. As this is produced in the human body, it is the lightest food that is digested and absorbed quickly. It contains nutrients like protein, healthy fats, and vitamins that are ideal for a baby’s growth.

Significance Of Breastfeeding

After giving birth, breasts produce the first form of breast milk, colostrum, which is significant for the baby’s growth. As an infant, doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding since breast milk contains antibodies that can combat asthma, allergies, and other illnesses. In comparison to formula-fed babies, breastfed babies acquire more immunity. They are less likely to get ear infections, respiratory issues, stomach infections, etc.

Besides lowering obesity and diabetes risks, it also prevents sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The IQ of breastfed infants is higher than that of bottle-fed infants. Moreover, physical touch and eye contact with the mother creates an emotional bond between the baby and the mother that helps the baby feel secure.

Breastfeeding is the best way for new mothers to lose weight after delivery. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and osteoporosis in mothers. The mother’s body undergoes many changes following delivery. Breastfeeding mothers release a hormone called oxytocin, which helps the uterus to return to its original state.

Breastfeeding Dilemmas

Though there are a lot of benefits of breastfeeding, it is up to the parent, who can decide how long the baby will be breastfed. There are many myths related to breastfeeding. It would be great if every new mother had a proper awareness of the significance and suitable breastfeeding methods.

Tips To Breastfeed The Baby

As new mothers, the first few weeks of breastfeeding are like a practice session or a learning period. It is not a simple task. A few important points must be checked each time the baby is breastfed.

Preparations

As the first step, the mother can choose a comfortable place to sit. As long as the baby needs to be fed, breastfeeding can be done anywhere at any time. Some people like to breastfeed in a lying position with the support of several pillows. Holding the baby in the correct place is also essential. The baby should be held tummy-to-tummy so that skin-to-skin contact is maintained. The baby should be placed in the crook of the arm opposite the breast.

When you start breastfeeding, ensure that

  • The nipples are entirely inside the infant’s mouth.
  • Baby can suck the breastmilk comfortably.
  • It is best to press on the breast if the breastmilk is coming out too quickly.

Creating A Habit

It is challenging for every new mother in the initial months until the breastfeeding habit is wholly established. Healthy babies will start sucking the milk properly in the first trial. Mother should feed the baby within the first two hours after delivery. By the second day, the baby will show some signals to get breast milk, and he has to be breastfed every 1 ½ hour to 3 hours. An infant must be breastfed at least 8 to 12 times a day.

Frequent breastfeeding will increase the milk supply. Mother should offer both breasts to the baby to feed on. Doctors suggest this method as this helps establish enough milk supply and prevent problems like breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis. In addition, mothers must follow a healthy diet and include all the essential nutrients in their food.

After a week of active breastfeeding, there will be an increase in the supply of breast milk as the baby learns to latch on and suck the milk. The infant’s weight will initially drop slightly, but it starts increasing gradually. The number of wet diapers will increase, and the color of the stool will change from dark to mustard yellow with a loose, seedy texture.

Kangaroo Care

Feeding breastmilk enriches the growth process by supplying nutrients and creating a healthy emotional bond between mother and baby. Skin-to-skin contact is vital at this stage. By holding the baby close to the chest ( Kangaroo care) during feeding, the baby is exposed to the smell and warmth of the mother’s body.   This method helps create a secure feeling for the infant. Kangaroo care helps increase the milk supply and weight gain.

Know If The Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

Not having breast milk is a common issue many mothers face. As we can’t measure how much breastmilk is needed for the baby, it is difficult to track the quantity each time the baby sucks. Then how do we know if the baby is getting enough milk?

Tracking the changes in body weight is one method. If the baby gains weight in the initial months, it is a good sign that he is getting enough milk. Several wet diapers are another clue. If the baby is wetting 8 -12 diapers daily, it is a sign that he is getting enough milk. Once the baby sucks enough breastmilk, your breasts become softer and lighter. Usually, if the infants get enough milk and their tummy is filled, they will sleep without any disturbance.

Proper Hygiene Practices To Follow

Practicing proper hygiene is very important in breastfeeding. It is not advisable to wash breasts frequently, but if needed, you can wipe the nipples with a clean towel. While bathing, avoid using soaps on the nipples.

  • Wash your hands frequently after every nappy wash.
  • After nursing, rub the nipples with a bit of breastmilk and allow them to dry. Repeat this each time to prevent sore nipples.
  • The breast pads need to be kept clean. Change it often when it is wet.
  • Always use cotton cloth pads instead of plastic caps or synthetic ones.
  • Wear loose clothing always.

Tips For Storing Breast Milk

To establish an active milk supply, breast pumping helps. Pumping can be done frequently every two or three hours. Gradually you get more milk, which can be stored in the fridge in labeled bottles. You can store fresh breastmilk for up to 4 hours at room temperature. If kept inside the refrigerator, it can be stored for up to 4 hours and in the freezer for at least six months. If you plan to store breastmilk, understand each point about the proper storage methods before attempting it.

A few points are to be noted before storing the expressed breastmilk.

  • Expressed breast milk needs to be stored in a clean storage bag.
  • Wash hands and pump before attempting the process.
  • Use specific storage bags meant for breast milk storage. Avoid plastic bottles and recycled / disposable bottles.
  • Label the bag mentioning the date of expression of the breastmilk.

Common Problems During Breastfeeding And Tips To Get Rid Of It

New mothers may feel some common issues while feeding. Identifying and understanding such matters will help to combat them.

Breast engorgement: This is a common issue during the initial months of nursing. Due to the increased milk supply, the breasts will be filled with milk and become hard. This condition is painful, and sometimes if the milk is not released correctly, it causes it to get plugged into the ducts.

To avoid these conditions, doctors suggest frequent breastfeeding or pumping. If pain exists, mothers can use a hot or cold compress to get relief. If the breast is leaking, breast pads can be used.

Mastitis: Mastitis is a condition with inflamed breast tissues. This happens if the breast is not drained sufficiently. Bacteria may enter into the clogged breast ducts and cause infections. In such a condition, a doctor’s help is significant.

Poor supply and poor latch: As suggested, frequent feeding is the best technique to increase supply. When feeding the baby, proper positioning is very important. Ensure that the baby can suck the nipples efficiently. It is the best idea to try different breastfeeding positions with the guidance of an adult or doctor and find the best position for the baby. Poor milk supply may occur due to other reasons too. If the mother is weak, unhealthy, or under any medication, that may affect the milk supply. In such conditions, guidance from a doctor is required. To increase milk production, there are health supplements available for lactating mothers.

Tender or sore nipples: Tender nipples are common in breastfeeding mothers. The condition occurs due to improper latching. While feeding, ensure that the baby’s mouth covers the areola, not only the tips of the nipples. Use comfortable pads between feedings. Expose the breasts sometimes, which helps to heal fast. You can approach your doctor to get guidance to speed up the healing process.

Breastfeeding is a challenging task for every mother. But through regular training and practice, mothers and infants become familiar with the process, and gradually it becomes the time when both enjoy the bliss of motherhood. Taking care of every point and understanding the proper method make the process easy and efficient.

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