What is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful bonding experiences that both mother and baby can share together. There are many reports on the advantages of breastfeeding your child, but it is a personal choice – one that should be made by the mother herself.
Benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby
The most obvious and important benefit from the breastfeeding experience is the close bond that develops between both mother and child. Secondly, providing you follow a healthy organic diet, natural breast milk is also highly nutritious and specifically designed to provide the baby with all it needs for growth and development.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop infections, tooth decay, diarrhea, constipation and allergies such as asthma and eczema. Breastfeeding also benefits the mother. When breastfeeding you use up extra calories and this in turns makes it easier to shed the excess weight gained during pregnancy! Furthermore, studies have shown that it also has the potential to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer as well as osteoporosis. Mothers have the ability to satisfy babies immediately when they are hungry, and to top it all, breastfeeding saves time and money making it so much more cost effective than bottle-feeding.
While breastfeeding has distinct advantages; the option of bottle-feeding means that dad can partake in the feeding ritual too, while some moms prefer to bottle-feed right away.
Getting enough milk
Many new mothers worry that their babies are not getting enough milk. In the first few days after delivery, you will produce a yellowish substance, colostrum. Colostrum is essential for your baby, even though it is only a small amount – at this stage it is the only food that the baby needs.
Babies usually lose weight in the beginning and this is very normal! You can keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers that your baby is producing to know whether he or she is getting enough milk. During the first few days when not a lot of milk is being produced, you can expect one or two wet diapers a day. Usually on the third day after birth, your mature milk comes in and has increased and you can expect about 5-6 wet diapers and 3-4 dirty diapers on a daily basis.
Help for Breastfeeding
Many mothers often experience difficulties when breastfeeding and sometimes they need a little help from the best ‘mom’ of all – Mother Nature! Synthetic drugs are often prescribed to increase lactation, but unfortunately have some serious side effects.
Trusted natural herbal and homeopathic remedies is a safer alternative and far gentler on mother and baby’s system. Herbs such as Galega officinalis, Silybum marianus (Milk Thistle) and Trigonella foenum-graecum (Fenugreek) encourage milk production and increase milk volume, help to balance blood sugar levels and is very effective for liver functioning. In addition, Borago officinalis (Borage) stimulates the flow of breast milk, acts as an excellent digestive tonic for constipation and is a soothing anti-inflammatory for women recovering from labor
More Information on Breastfeeding
Very often, particularly new mothers, struggle to nurse their babies and become very frustrated. There are several things that can be done to ensure that breastfeeding becomes a joyous experience and these include:
- Start breastfeeding as early as you can after delivery. Sometimes your milk may come in slowly or suddenly together with a fullness that can be quite uncomfortable, leading to sore breasts. Your breasts contain a kind of milk called colostrum, a yellowish fluid rich in protein which protects your baby from disease and infection. During the next few days your milk supply usually increases.
- Proper positioning and correct latch-on. This can be done by breastfeeding your baby while you are both lying down, and ensuring that your baby’s nose and mouth are facing your breast. By holding your baby close to your breast will help him or her find your nipple and aerola (the brown ring that surrounds the nipple) quickly. Support your breast by cupping your hand in a "U or C" shape to get your baby to latch properly. Keep your thumb on top of your breast and four fingers underneath it. If your breasts are large, you need to support them during the whole feeding. Your baby is latching on well if you hear him or her swallow after every one or two sucks and there are sufficient wet and dirty diapers.
- Nurse frequently. Breastfeed babies, especially newborns – as they need to be fed at least every two or three hours during the day or twice at night. In the beginning, babies will feed voraciously and often be quite demanding. Nurse frequently as this increases your milk supply and reduces engorgement and eventually your baby will be able to go longer between feedings.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Incorporate vegetables, fruit, lean meat, eggs, milk and fish into your diet. Reduce your intake of caffeinated and carbonated beverages, refined sugar and processed foods. Drink lots of water to keep your body well hydrated to help increase the milk supply. Never smoke or drink while breastfeeding!
- Use both breasts at each feeding. Nurse your baby on the first breast for about 10-15 minutes to make sure that it is empty before switching to the second breast. Alternate between both breasts at each feeding to encourage equal stimulation.
- Treat breast engorgement. A few days after giving birth (2nd to 6th day) your breasts may become larger and heavier, producing bigger quantities of milk – this type of breast fullness is referred to as engorgement. To alleviate breast fullness, you should feed your baby more often, take warm showers or baths, apply warm compresses to your breasts and numb the pain with ice.
- Feed your baby breast milk only. Breastfeed babies for at least the first six months. Avoid giving babies other liquids such as water, sugar water or formula, as it reduces the vitamins from the breast milk.
- Air-dry your nipples. If you develop sore or cracked nipples, you can express breast milk and apply it to the nipples, then air-dry them. Breast milk acts as a natural moisturizer.
- Delay bottle nipples and pacifiers. Babies should be given a chance to learn how to breastfeed and develop a good sucking pattern before being given a pacifier or bottle. When babies are first learning to breastfeed, and bottle nipples are suddenly given to them, this can cause confusion.
- Check for breast infection. Consult a doctor immediately of you notice signs of irritation, fever, redness and painful lumps in your breasts.
- Breastfeed baby during and after sickness. When babies are ill, continue to breastfeed them even of they refuse to eat. Breastmilk contains all the vital nutrients babies need.
- Avoid using soap, alcohol or antiseptic pads on nipples. These products cause excessive dryness and itching instead simply wash with clear water or use all-natural products.