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One Single Food for a Newborn's Complete Needs

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One Single Food for a Newborn's Complete Needs

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This article is a complete guide that explains how breastfeeding a newborn baby contributes to the baby’s wellness and health.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At August 28, 2015
Reviewed AtMay 26, 2023

Introduction:

Breastfeeding is a unique bond of love, affection, and care that leaves a positive impact on the baby's life forever. Mother's breast milk is a complete diet for the newborn that suffices all the needs of the baby to lead a healthy life.

What Is Colostrum and What Are Its Benefits?

  • The breast milk produced in the first couple of days of lactation soon after delivery is known as colostrum.

  • It is a nutrient-dense yellow-colored secretion from the mother’s breast that is full of antibodies and antioxidants from which the newborn gets protection against infections.

  • Colostrum is highly concentrated with proteins, minerals, vitamins, and antibodies.

  • Due to its rich color and highly valuable benefits, colostrum is often referred to as liquid gold. Only little amounts of colostrum are sufficient for newborn babies as it is highly dense with nutrients and antibodies.

  • Benefits of colostrum include

    • The immune system of the baby is strengthened.

    • It offers ideal nutrition for the newborn baby.

    • It establishes a healthy gut by preventing harmful bacteria from being absorbed by lining the intestines.

    • Easily digestible.

    • Has a laxative effect that helps clear the meconium (the first poop by the newborn).

    • Prevents low blood sugar in babies.

What Is Breast Milk?

Colostrum turns into transitional milk after about 3 to 4 days. This process is often termed as milk ‘coming in’. The milk supply drastically increases during this time and the breast feels firm and full. After the milk supply is established, the transitional milk becomes mature breast milk that contains antibodies to sufficiently protect the baby against diseases, and they remain until the baby is breastfed. It saves the baby from:

  • Colic and other digestive system problems.

  • Ear, nose, and throat infections.

  • Blood disorders like low hemoglobin.

  • Early infection of the lungs even if the lungs are not mature enough.

  • Bone mineral density issues including jaw bone weakness and misalignment of teeth, which later erupt.

Breast milk:

  • Is easily digestible and nutritious, having all the necessary nutrients.

  • Is full of immunoglobulin (to save the baby from disease-causing pathogens).

  • Quenches thirst and promotes the baby’s satiety.

  • Prevents constipation.

What Are the Important Facts about Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a difficult task for some mothers at the beginning of lactation and may need the help of a trained nurse to learn the technique. A lot of young mothers get trained at home by their mothers and grandmothers. In a couple of weeks, the female's body adjusts to this process. She gets the knowledge of how much milk she is producing and whether that is sufficient for the baby's needs. If a baby needs more milk and suckles, the body’s physiological process stimulates milk secretion to fulfill the needs of the little one.

Breastfeeding Satisfies Babies:

Babies need their mother's lap to feed properly and for sleep induction with a feeling of satisfaction. Breastfeeding provides it all, and the mother and baby both remain at ease right from the start of the baby’s life.

How Does Breast Milk Change as per the Babies’ Needs?

Nutrients in breast milk keep changing according to the needs of the baby. A few differences in breast milk are listed below.

  • Preterm breast milk - has higher concentrations of fat, protein, sodium, chloride, iron, and magnesium.

  • Morning breast milk has more volume and less fat.

  • Nighttime breastmilk has more fat and less volume.

  • Breastmilk after birth is the colostrum that also serves as a natural vaccine for newborns.

  • Breastmilk at six weeks - has the highest concentration of antibodies.

  • At 3 months - breast milk is rich in calories.

  • Breast Milk during 6 to 12 months is high in calories and omega acids that help in the development of the brain and muscles.

  • Beyond one year, breastmilk becomes concentrated to give an extra boost to the baby’s immunity whenever possible and needed.

How Often Should the Baby Be Fed?

  • The babies should be breastfed whenever they are hungry.

  • Infants who are breastfeeding should be breastfed 8 to 12 times a day. They should be breastfed for approximately 15 minutes per breast per feed.

  • Bottle-fed infants should be fed eight to ten times a day. Adding foods to a bottle is not recommended as they can cause weight gain, hinder the baby’s sleep at night, and decrease the intake of vital nutrients. Also, it can cause choking.

  • When the baby starts eating solid foods, they will drink less. So, slowly increase the amount of solid food compared to breast milk.

What Are the Advantages to the Mothers Who Breastfeed Their Little Ones?

  • Bottle-fed babies are more difficult to handle increasing the workload on the mothers.

  • Bottles need proper cleanliness and sterilization with a steamer (boiler), and proper care is also needed for measuring the scoop of milk powder and heating it in a bottle warmer. If the baby refuses to take it after all the efforts put in by the mother, this bottle will get wasted after 40 minutes or so, adding to the frustration of the mother. Postpartum depression-affected mothers cannot bear this additional stress.

  • Every new mother needs to regain her body shape to look smart once again. Breastfeeding helps mothers achieve these goals faster. Breastfeeding mothers are known to have the least vaginal bleeding during the first 6 weeks after the delivery (puerperium). Also, the uterus goes back to its normal size and shape (convolutes) fast in breastfeeding mothers as compared to non-breastfeeding mothers.

  • A research carried out on mothers after delivery states that mothers who breastfeed their babies burn more fats and calories achieving a healthy body mass index (BMI). After delivery, their goals are achieved in as short as 6 to 8 months when compared to mothers who bottle-feed their babies.

What Facts Should a Breastfeeding Mother Be Aware Of?

  • Continuously monitor if the baby has gained appropriate weight, height, and body mass that is normal for the age of the baby.

  • Baby should urinate 5 to 7 times per day and should wet the diaper properly. It means the baby is having enough milk and is on a proper diet.

  • If properly fed, the baby should have a good sleep. Babies who are breastfed sleep more as compared to those who are bottle-fed.

  • Breastfeeding babies get responsive to the outside world more easily. Their motor and cognitive development occurs faster than bottle-fed babies.

  • Do not make a schedule for feeding the baby. Babies are better judges to let mothers know when they are hungry or thirsty. Start feeding when the baby demands.

  • Breastfeeding babies need frequent feeds because it is easily digested. Bottle-fed babies cannot digest it easily and may need less frequent feeding per day. Mothers should keep this fact in mind.

  • Sunlight exposure is also necessary for the baby to get enough vitamin D and other nutrients as needed for the growth and support of the little one's bones and teeth. Vitamin D is produced in the body when sunlight touches the skin. This vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption from the gut of the baby. But do not overexpose the baby as sunlight may cause sunburns and skin cancer. 12 to 18 minutes of sun exposure 3 to 4 times a week will be beneficial.

  • A mother's diet is also very important. Whatever she eats indirectly goes to the infant's body through breast milk. Mothers should take a vitamin B12 diet that fulfills the needs of both baby and the mother.

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, starting from 2 months of age, breastfeeding infants should receive 200 IU of oral drops of vitamin D as breast milk is considered to be deficient in it. And they should keep taking it until the baby shifts to solid foods. Rickets is a disease caused by vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate deficiency.

  • Hemorrhage and death of a baby may be prevented by making sure that the babies are given vitamin K at birth.

  • Babies also need iron. When a baby is weaning at 6 months of age or so, and when introducing a second food to the baby, try iron-fortified cereals to satisfy the iron requirements of the baby.

  • In hot and humid weather and in a fever, give bottled drinking water to sufficiently hydrate the baby. In normal weather, breast milk is enough to hydrate the baby.

  • Before introducing new food to the baby like eggs, peanuts, etc., first, consult the pediatrician to know how to deal with the allergic reaction if it happens to the baby. It is important to know, as many babies are genetically allergic to certain foods. If the baby is given such food, it can lead to swelling of the throat, lips, and tongue. Such a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction may even take the life of the baby.

Nutritional Facts Of Human, Goat, And Cow's Milk: (Quantity - 250 mL)

nutritional-facts-of-human-goat-and-cows-milk

Conclusion:

Getting started with breastfeeding may be difficult and requires assistance, but the benefits from breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby are very high making the process of breastfeeding worthwhile. Breast Milk is the main source of nutrition for the baby even up to one year. So all mothers should be guided and assisted for a happy and successful breastfeeding journey.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Muhammad Majid Hanif
Dr. Muhammad Majid Hanif

Cardiology

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breast feedingcolostrum
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