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Breastfeeding Tips and Benefits
One of the first decisions you will make about your baby is whether or not to breastfeed. Surely, any healthcare professional will tell you that breast milk is the healthiest baby formula available and that breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding.
Some women, however, do not like the idea of feeding their baby this way and are afraid to even try it. Other women wouldn’t mind breastfeeding their babies, but since they’re going back to work in a few months, they decide not to start. But every woman is different and you may find that breastfeeding will work just fine for you.
Some important facts about breastfeeding
To help you understand the various benefits of breastfeeding, here are some key facts about the most timeless method of feeding a baby:
- The most nutritious type of breast milk is colostrum, the substance that nursing mothers produce from birth until milk comes in.
- Your body will produce the exact amount of milk your baby needs. The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will produce. And if the baby’s demand decreases, so will the amount of milk your body produces.
- When you breastfeed, the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size faster and you will lose weight faster.
- Some women find that nursing babies works as a natural contraceptive for them. However, this is not the case for all women, so if you want to delay your next pregnancy, you should use contraception while breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is the cleanest and most economical way to feed a baby – no bottles, sterilizing equipment or expensive milk required.
- A baby’s immature gut and small stomach can digest breast milk much more easily than formula. Unlike formula diapers, breast milk diapers do not smell!
Starting with Breastfeeding
Babies are born with a natural reflex and instinct to breastfeed. Their sucking reflex is strongest at birth, which is the best time to start. Many young women, especially if they are new to breastfeeding, may struggle a bit at first. For this reason, many hospitals provide breastfeeding information and may even have a lactation consultant on staff. Once your baby is born, it would be a good idea to seek out a lactation consultant and ask her all your breastfeeding questions. It will give you some ideas about breastfeeding positions and help you hold the baby correctly.
If you’re nursing twins, the positions are slightly different, as you’ll see here:
In principle, it is not so difficult to start breastfeeding as newborns have a strong sucking reflex at birth. Just hold the baby at the tip of your arm. By supporting yourself or the baby with pillows, bring the baby close to your chest. Gently touch the side of the baby’s mouth with your nipple and you will see how the baby will automatically open its mouth to take the nipple. You should gently hold your nipple between your thumb and forefinger. Don’t just offer the tip of the nipple to the baby, but also some of the nipple (the slightly darker area where the nipple is attached). As the baby has a very small mouth, offer your nipple and teat very carefully. The baby’s chin should touch the breast, but the nose should either be clear of the breast or slightly touching it. You will know if the baby is not attached properly if you find this painful. When the baby is properly attached, there should be no pain at all.
At first, the baby will take the breast for a few minutes at a time. At first, there will be a quick sucking action as the baby takes in the thinner foremilk. As the thicker, more nutritious hindmilk comes in, the baby will begin to suck more rhythmically, with the lower jaw moving up and down with a deep action.
Common breastfeeding problems
If you are a new mother, you may find breastfeeding a bit difficult at first. You’re already tired from giving birth and your body is going through all the normal postpartum hormonal changes that happen right now. Until you get used to breastfeeding, you may suffer from sore nipples. This should not be a cause for concern as the skin hardens after a while. To help you, there are various nipple creams on the market that are safe to use while breastfeeding. Consult your lactation consultant or healthcare professional to find out what is best for you.
You should also make sure to empty your breast with each feeding. This is done by offering both breasts at each feeding. Once baby is done with one breast, burp it and then offer the other. Make sure the second breast becomes the first breast at the next feeding to make sure it doesn’t get too full, as this can lead to mastitis.
Mastitis is an infection caused by a blocked milk duct due to breast enlargement or by bacteria from a cracked nipple.
The importance of a good breastfeeding diet
While breastfeeding, you should eat for two. This basically means that you should eat the healthiest foods for your baby and keep your strength up. It is very important at this time to eat often and make sure you drink enough, especially if you live in a hot climate. Many women make sure to drink while breastfeeding and then drink again once they finish. The importance of proper nutrition cannot be stressed enough. Some women may breastfeed for at least six months, but others will continue until the baby is two years old. It’s a very personal decision, but in any case, you need to take care of your strength during this time.
If you decide to breastfeed, you have made a very positive decision because you are giving your baby the healthiest start in life.
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