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Breastfeeding Tips and Benefits
One of the first decisions you will make about your baby is whether or not to breastfeed. Sure, any health professional will tell you that breast milk is the healthiest baby milk out there and that breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding.
Some women, however, do not like the idea of feeding their baby this way and are afraid to even try it. Other women would not mind breastfeeding their babies but since they will be going back to work within a few months, they decide not to start with it. But every woman is different, and you may find that breastfeeding will work just fine for you.
Some Important Facts about Breastfeeding
To help you understand the various benefits of breastfeeding, here are some basic facts about the most honorable method of feeding a baby:
- The most nutritious type of breast milk is colostrum, the substance that nursing mothers produce from birth until the milk comes in.
- Your body will produce the right amount of milk that your baby needs. The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will produce. And if the baby’s demand decreases, so does the amount of milk your body will produce.
- When you breastfeed, the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size faster, and you will lose weight faster.
- Some women find that breastfed babies work as a natural contraceptive for them. However, this does not apply to all women, so if you want to delay the next pregnancy, you should still use contraception while breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is the cleanest and most economical way to feed a baby – no need for bottles, sterilizing equipment or expensive formula.
- A baby’s immature intestine and small stomach can digest breast milk much more easily than formula. Unlike formula diapers, breast milk diapers do not smell!
Start with Breastfeeding
Babies are born with a natural reflex and instinct to breastfeed. Their sucking reflex is most powerful at birth, which is the best time to start. Many young women, especially if they have no experience with breastfeeding, can find it a little difficult at first. For this reason, many hospitals provide information on breastfeeding and may even have a lactation consultant on staff. As soon as your baby is born, it would be a good idea to seek out the lactation consultant and ask her all your breastfeeding questions. She will give you some ideas about breastfeeding positions and help you latch the baby properly.
If you are breastfeeding twins, the positions are slightly different, as you will see here:
In principle, it is not that difficult to start breastfeeding, because newborns have a strong sucking reflex at birth. Simply hold the baby in the crook of your arm. By supporting yourself or the baby with pillows, bring the baby close to your chest. Gently touch the side of the baby’s mouth with your nipple, and you will see how the baby will automatically open its mouth to take the nipple. You should gently hold your nipple between your thumb and forefinger. Don’t just offer the baby the tip of the nipple, but also some of the areola (the slightly darker area to which the nipple is attached). Because the baby has a very small mouth, offer your nipple and areola very carefully. The baby’s chin should be touching the breast but the nose should be either clear of the breast or just slightly touching it. You will know if the baby is not latched on properly if you find this painful. When the baby is latched on correctly, there shouldn’t be any pain at all.
At first, the baby will take the breast for a few minutes at a time. At first, there will be a quick sucking action as the baby takes in the thinner foremilk. As the thicker, more nutritious hind milk comes in, the baby will begin to suckle more rhythmically, with the lower jaw moving up and down with a deep action.
Common Breastfeeding Problems
If you are a new mother, you may find breastfeeding a bit difficult at first. You are already tired from giving birth and your body is going through all the usual postpartum hormonal changes that happen at this time. Until you get used to breastfeeding, you may suffer from sore nipples. This should not be a cause for concern, as the skin gets stronger after a while. To help you, there are various nipple creams on the market that are safe to use while breastfeeding. Consult with a lactation consultant or your doctor to find out which is best for you.
You should also make sure to empty your breasts at each feeding. This is done by offering both breasts at each feeding. Once the baby is done with one breast, burp them and then offer the second. Make sure the second breast becomes the first breast at the next feed to ensure it doesn’t get too full, as this can lead to mastitis.
Mastitis is an infection caused by a blocked milk duct due to engorgement of the breast, or bacteria from a cracked nipple.
The Importance of a Good Breastfeeding Diet
While you are breastfeeding, you must eat for two. This basically means that you need to eat the healthiest foods for your baby and maintain your own strength. It is very important at this time to eat often, and make sure you drink enough, especially if you live in a hot climate. Many women make sure to drink while they are breastfeeding and then drink again after they are done. The importance of a proper diet cannot be emphasized enough. Some women can breastfeed for the minimum six months, but others will continue until the baby is two years old. It is a very personal decision, but in any case, you must take care of your strength during this period.
If you do decide to breastfeed, you have made a very positive decision because you are giving your baby the healthiest start in life.
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