We are all aware of how important it is for babies to be breastfed. Breast feeding offers many benefits to your baby as breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients to help your infant grow into a strong and healthy toddler. Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect your infant against some common childhood illnesses and infections. It also helps mommy’s health in many ways.
Breastfeeding your new born is an art that you will acquire with time, as it demands a lot of patience and practice. If you feel nervous , you can always talk to your nurse, doctor or friends who have already nursed. Breastfeeding requires a lot of patience, so do not get distressed if it takes some time for you to adjust to this exercise.
Some essential tips about breastfeeding:
#1. About breast milk:
During every feeding, the makeup of breast milk changes. At the beginning of the feeding, the milk is bluish and contains lactose and proteins such milk is called foremilk. Though it takes some time for the mature milk to flow in, the breasts initially produce a substance called colostrum (a yellowish thick fluid) in the milk that protects your baby from infections.
The best way to feed your baby is to first choose a calm room/place. It should not have any noise or distraction. Babies (especially older babies) may get distracted to noise and may avoid taking feed. If possible keep the lights dim and hum a soft song or play some light music to help your baby relax and enjoy.
#3. Correct position:
Comfortable breastfeeding requires correct positioning of the baby at the breast. Some guidelines are given to help you develop your own technique. Observing someone else breastfeed or practicing with an experienced nursing mother or a lactation consultant may also help. One thing that you must ensure before giving the feed is, to be in a comfortable position, whether sitting or lying, as feeding can take up to 45 minutes or so, with you having to remain in that position for some time. Make yourself comfortable along with the baby in a chair or on a couch with plenty of cushions around for support.Baby also needs time to develop his or her breastfeeding skills.
It is advisable to feed your baby as often as possible, say every two hours or so as breast milk digests quite fast. The more you nurse, the more milk you will produce. You should try to nurse at least 10 to 12 times a day, better still whenever your baby shows signs of hunger, like increased alertness or mouthing. Crying too, is a sign of hunger, so make sure you feed the baby before he starts to cry. As your baby will practically sleep through the day in the initial days, you will need to gently wake him at regular intervals to feed him. Once he starts sleeping for longer periods at night, you can follow a routine of feeding every two to three hours or even less at night.
In general, breastfeeding women should eat a well-balanced, varied diet. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is not a substitute for healthy eating. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, calcium-rich dairy products, and protein-rich foods (meats, fish). Make sure you are getting enough calories. Breastfeeding mothers can safely eat any foods they like. Mommy should be eating 5 times of food that has plenty of calcium every day, including milk. Some foods may flavour the breast milk, but babies rarely react to this. If your baby is fussy after you eat a certain food or spice, try avoiding that food for a while, and then try it again later to see if it is a problem.
Breastfeeding mothers need enough fluids to stay hydrated. It’s recommended drinking enough fluids to satisfy thirst. Taking fluids such as water, milk, juice, or soup is a good goal. Drink at least cup of water before every breastfeed.
#7. Nipple care:
Keeping the nipples dry is important to prevent cracking and infection. Soaps and harsh washing or drying of the breasts and nipples can cause extreme dryness and cracking. For cracked nipples, apply homemade ghee (clarified butter) or 100% lanolin after feedings. Ghee is known for its healing properties and essentials fat in ghee will heal nipples. Also applying and leaving breast milk on the nipple after feeding and allowing it to dry helps protect the nipple.
#8. Milk supply:
Breastfeeding or pumping on a regular schedule, along with drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy, will help you maintain your supply of breast milk. Eat supporting food for producing more breast milk. Add milk in your porridges, desserts, roti for making the diet calcium rich. Consult your doctor for medicines in case of low breast milk supply.