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Benefits of Breastfeeding and a Few Tips to New Mothers

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Benefits of Breastfeeding and a Few Tips to New Mothers

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There are many misconceptions about breastfeeding, so here are some tips for new mothers. Read the article and learn about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At November 22, 2016
Reviewed AtApril 4, 2024

What Concerns Do Breastfeeding Mothers Usually Have?

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. Until When Should One Breastfeed a Baby?

Kindly encourage exclusive breastfeeding till six months. Up to six 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 the Breast Milk Sufficient for the Child?

Many people worry that breast milk is too watery or less for the growing baby. People always make mistakes by comparing the baby's needs with theirs. 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 percent of the baby’s nutritional demands, which is one-third when the baby's second year is considered.

3. Is Breast Milk Nutritious for the 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.

When Should a Mother Start Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding should be initiated within one hour of delivery of the baby. Though the mother will be tired, the baby will also be stressed during the delivery and will need the feed. The nurses and the family should always insist that the mother should breastfeed the baby immediately.

Once the baby is placed on the chest, the mother will notice that they found 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 inappropriate for the baby's ingestion.

Even if the mother has undergone a cesarean section, the mother will secrete milk once the baby starts sucking. So, she should not get discouraged. Initiate breastfeeding immediately. It is a cycle; the more the baby sucks the breast, the more milk is produced. The most common mistake made is assuming that it is not sufficient, so the mother stops breastfeeding regularly. This leads to a further decrease in the quantity of breast milk.

How Do Mothers Start Breastfeeding?

Mothers typically start breastfeeding their newborns after giving birth. The mother can place their baby on the chest. It makes skin-to-skin contact and regulates the baby's temperature, heart rate, and breathing. It creates a strong bond between the baby and the mother. When the baby is placed on the mother’s chest, naturally the baby turns their head and opens their mouth in search of the breast. The mother may consult a lactation counselor for a good latch. The breast milk provides essential nutrition and immune protection for the newborn. Support and access to resources can help facilitate positive breastfeeding experiences for mothers and babies.

Will Mothers Make Enough Milk to Breastfeed?

With proper support and guidance, most mothers are capable of producing enough breast milk to meet the baby's needs. The factors that can influence a mother’s milk supply are as follows:

  • The more frequently a baby breastfeeds the more the amount of milk produced. Newborn babies have to be breastfed every two to three hours.

  • A proper latch helps in proper milk production and prevents nipple pain and damage.

  • Encouraging the baby to feed from both breasts may help in maintaining the milk supply.

  • The mother should take a balanced diet and stay hydrated.

  • Avoiding stress and anxiety can create a safe and supportive environment for breastfeeding.

What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

In Infants:

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 infections 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 mature 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.

In Mother:

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.

  • It 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.

  • Improves confidence.

  • Breastfed babies remain calm and are less fussy, creating a sense of calmness for the mother.

How to Start Weaning?

Continue breastfeeding the baby as they are weaned and introduce them to other foodstuffs. The requirements of the growing child increase with increasing age, so the mother can start giving food, which is usually cooked at home. It does not have to be watery. A thick paste of the food normally cooked for the family is fine. Make it interesting for the baby and introduce nutritious food in their diet according to their liking.

Conclusion:

Do not bottle or top-feed the baby before six months of age. The mother should not give water or honey or anything. If the mother or the baby is sick, consult a doctor. In most cases, the mother can continue to breastfeed the baby. Good luck to all the new mothers. Factors, such as frequent breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, nutrition, hydration, stress management, and seeking support from the lactation counselor play an important role in supporting breastfeeding success.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How Long Should You Breastfeed Your Baby?

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.

2.

What Does Breastfeeding Do to the Body?

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.

3.

What Are the Different Types of Breastfeeding?

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.

4.

Which Is the Correct Age to Stop Breastfeeding?

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.

5.

What Are the Foods That Are to Be Avoided While Breastfeeding?

The following are the foods to be avoided while the mother is breastfeeding.
- Fishes that are rich in mercury.
- Caffeine products.
- Alcohol.
- Artificial supplements that are taken for increasing the milk supply. This can also include herbal products.

6.

What Are the Best Foods to Eat When Breastfeeding?

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.

7.

What Are the Advantages of Breastfeeding?

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.

8.

What Are the Disadvantages of Breastfeeding?

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.

9.

How Is Breastfeeding Beneficial to the Mother?

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.

10.

Do Breastfeeding Mothers Have Periods?

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.

11.

Is It Bad to Breastfeed Another Baby?

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.

12.

Why Am I Getting My Period While Breastfeeding?

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.

13.

What Happens If You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

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.

14.

Why Is It Important to Breastfeed Immediately After Birth?

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.

15.

How Do I Know My Baby Is Full When Breastfeeding?

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.

16.

How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

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.

17.

Do You Burn Calories Breastfeeding?

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.
Dr. Krutika Shrikant Ingle
Dr. Krutika Shrikant Ingle

Diabetology

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breast feeding
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