There are many misconceptions about breastfeeding, so here are some tips for new mothers. Read the article and learn about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing for the mother and the baby in humans, just as for all mammals. Below are a few common questions that every breastfeeding mother has:
1. Till When Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Kindly encourage exclusive breastfeeding till six months. Up to 6 months, breast milk is sufficient for the baby's growth and development. However, after six months, breastfeeding should be carried out in addition to other food items. Breastfeeding can be given for as long as two years.
2. Is My Breast Milk Sufficient for My Child?
Many people worry that breast milk is too watery or less for the growing baby. We always mistake the baby's needs by comparing them with ours. Remember that breast milk is sufficient for the baby's requirements. Breast milk alone is adequate for growth and development for the first half of your baby’s first year. As far as the second half is concerned, breast milk can provide about 50 % of the baby’s nutritional demands, which is one-third when the baby's second year is considered.
3. Is Breast Milk Nutritious for My Baby?
Breastfeeding leads to intestinal development and proper dentition in the newborn. A lot of protective antibodies are present in the milk, which protects the kid from developing a lot of diseases in the future when they grow up. Also, breastfed kids are seen to be more intelligent and socially adjusted.
Breastfeeding should be initiated within 1 hour of delivery of the baby. Though the mother will be tired, the baby will also be stressed post the delivery and will need the feed. Always insist to the nurses and your family that you want to breastfeed the baby immediately.
Once the baby is placed on your chest, you will notice that they find the nipple and start sucking. That is how natural the phenomenon of breastfeeding is.
The first thick milk (colostrum) secreted is the most nutritious for the baby. It is rich in fat, which satisfies their hunger, and contains lots of vitamins and minerals required for brain development. The biggest mistake people make is discarding this nutritious milk, thinking it is infected and not appropriate for the baby's ingestion.
Even if you have undergone a cesarean section, you will secrete milk once the baby starts sucking. So, do not be discouraged. Initiate breastfeeding immediately. It is a cycle; the more the baby sucks the breast, the more the milk is produced. The most common mistake we make is that we assume that it is not sufficient, so we stop breastfeeding regularly. This leads to a further decrease in the quantity of breast milk.
Below are the advantages of breastfeeding infants:
IgA (Immunoglobulin A) antibodies are produced, which coat the baby's intestinal lining, thereby offering protection against allergens and microorganisms. The fully developed immune systems of the mother's body create more antibodies against the diseases or infection both she and the child have been exposed to. As a result, it aids in protection against several illnesses.
Vision is enhanced in infants, and also the chances of developing premature retinopathy are reduced.
The overall rate of disease contraction and hospitalization is reduced by about six times.
Decreases the risk of developing respiratory infections like the common cold, whooping cough, respiratory syncytial virus, and pneumonia.
Limits infant deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome or other fatal causes.
These children, in their adulthood, tend to be more active at work and school.
Reduce the chances of developing gastrointestinal problems like gastroesophageal reflux, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, preterm necrotizing fasciitis, and constipation.
Lesser incidence of ear infections or bacterial meningitis.
In their childhood days, they exhibit reduced incidence of allergies, childhood cancers, asthma, eczema, dental caries, Crohn's disease, type 1 diabetes, colitis, respiratory diseases, etc. They also have more matured brain function and well-developed immunity. Problems with movement and speech are also reduced in these children.
When they turn into adults, they exhibit fewer chances of developing type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, breast cancer, cardiac problems, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Breastfeeding has both physical and mental health benefits as far as the feeding mother is concerned.
The following are the benefits of breastfeeding in a mother:
Aids in rapid weight loss. As many as 500 calories can be burnt daily with breastfeeding.
Reduces the risk of developing urinary tract infections, anemia, etc.
Limits postpartum depression and enhances the mood.
Decreases postpartum bleeding.
Helps the uterus to return to its average size.
It produces positive feelings by releasing soothing hormones like oxytocin and prolactin.
Breastfeeding is also protective for the mother from a lot of cancers.
Creates an emotional bond with the baby.
Breastfed babies remain calm and are less fussy, thereby creating a sense of calmness for the mother.
Continue breastfeeding your baby as you wean them and introduce them to other foodstuffs. The requirements of the growing child increase with increasing age, so you can start giving food, which you usually cook at home. It does not have to be watery. A thick paste of the food you normally cook for the family. Make it interesting for the baby and introduce nutritious food in their diet according to their liking.
Do not bottle or top feed the baby before six months of age. You should not give water or honey or anything. If you are sick or your baby is sick, consult a doctor. In most cases, you can still continue to breastfeed your baby. Good luck to all the new mothers.
The results from the World health organization (WHO) suggest that the baby should be given mother’s milk for a maximum of two years. If there are practical difficulties, then the breastmilk can be given for a minimum of six months. If you have immunocompromised conditions such as HIV, then the mother should not give breastmilk to the baby.
Breastfeeding will help in reducing the bleeding from the uterus after birth. During breastfeeding, a hormone called oxytocin is released, and it will help the uterus go back to its original size. It will also help in reducing the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer to the mother.
The different types of breastfeeding are categorized based on the position of feeding. They are:
- Upright breastfeeding.
- Cradle hold.
- Cross-cradle hold.
- Rugby ball hold.
- Side-lying position.
- Laid-back breastfeeding after a C-section.
- Laid-back breastfeeding or reclined position.
- Dangle feeding.
The baby will grow up healthier if they are breastfed for a year or two. This is the recommended age to stop breastfeeding. If it is difficult to breastfeed the baby for such a prolonged duration, then the feeding can be stopped after eating solid foods.
The following are the foods to be avoided while the mother is breastfeeding.
- Fishes that are rich in mercury.
- Caffeine products.
- Artificial supplements that are taken for increasing the milk supply. This can also include herbal products.
There is no specific food that is to be added while breastfeeding. The mother has to consume lots of green leafy vegetables and grains. They should also consume a lot of water. You can add milk and egg to your diet regularly. All seasonal fruits can be consumed.
The advantages of breastfeeding are:
- The baby will grow-up nutritious.
- The jaw and teeth development will be proper.
- The baby will stay away from health issues like obesity, malnutrition, and heart problems.
There are no particular disadvantage associated with breastfeeding. But, a few women are known to have discomfort or pain in the initial stages. It might not be feasible all the time to breastfeed in public. The mother cannot get treated to a few health issues as the medications can pass through the milk.
The breastfeeding process will help the mother stay away from cancers like ovarian cancer and breast cancer. The mother will have emotional satisfaction after feeding the baby.
The breastfeeding mothers will not have their periods for approximately one year. After the arrival of periods, you can calculate the fertility period, and you can plan accordingly. Some reports say that your periods begin a few days after the baby starts eating food from any other source other than the mother’s breast milk.
Breastfeeding another baby can be infectious for both the mother and the baby. In some cases, it is also known to interfere with the mother’s supply of milk. If the baby drinks milk from another milk, chances for acquiring hepatitis B and C is higher.
The absence of periods during breastfeeding is due to the prolactin hormone. Breastfeeding will keep prolactin levels high. It is not necessary to worry about it, and the mother can probably rest without fatigue. After a few months of breastfeeding, the periods will return like before.
There is no particular complication of becoming pregnant while breastfeeding. It is usually considered safe to continue breastfeeding after you become pregnant. Some women are known to experience cramps during this stage.
It is essential to breastfeed immediately after birth because the baby would be tired after the labor procedures. Also, this will help in reducing the uterine bleeding in the mother. You should consult the doctor when you start breastfeeding and how long you should feed if you are unsure about it.
The baby will slow down the sucking when they are full. They will also turn away from the mother’s breast and start seeing or playing somewhere else. These are the signs you can find to understand that the baby is full, and you can stop feeding.
Losing weight drastically is not a good idea after delivery. The mother can choose to go for regulated weight loss. It is necessary to go for frequent small meals. Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. It is important to choose light exercises. You can also get help from your dietician.
Yes, you burn calories when you are breastfeeding. It helps to reduce the postpartum weight that you gained. An average of 500 calories per day is burned while breastfeeding. If you are planning for additional weight loss, then you should consult a fitness specialist.
Last reviewed at:
30 Apr 2022 - 4 min read
Query: Hi doctor, I have a 4-month-baby boy. I am doing breastfeeding. My tooth is entirely damaged. So I am planning to remove my tooth. Is it correct or not? I am taking medicine for it. Please tell me a suggestion. Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I am 31 years old and a mother of 7 months old baby. Recently, I have got infected with herpes zoster virus on my back. It is a small patch above my waist. Doctor told me to stop breastfeeding for a week. But, my baby is exclusively breastfed till now and not taking bottle feed after seve... Read Full »
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