Are you thinking about breastfeeding your baby? There’s truly nothing more natural than providing your child with your own milk. Not only is breast milk the optimal food for your little one, supplying all the necessary nutrients and antibodies, but it also offers protection against infectious and respiratory diseases, helping to boost their immune system. In fact, the World Health Organization advises exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. To fully understand the benefits of breastfeeding and how to prepare your body for it, it’s important to do your research and gather all the information you need.
What is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is the feeding of babies and young children with milk from the female breast. Health professionals recommend that breastfeeding begin in the first weeks of the baby’s life and continue as often as he or she wants. According to healthcare professionals, breastfeeding has many benefits for mother and baby.
The Composition Of Breast Milk
The composition of breast milk varies during breastfeeding to adapt to the baby’s needs. It can also change according to the mother’s diet. The taste of milk can change, allowing the baby to get used to different flavors.
Breast milk contains over 200 components. It is composed of:
- Proteins that are non-allergenic, easy to absorb, and easy to digest.
- Sugars and fats that provide energy to the baby’s cells.
- Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and iron.
- Enzymes that aid digestion in the baby.
- Essential fatty acids that may influence the development of the brain and vision.
- Antibodies and antimicrobial molecules that help the baby defend against bacteria and viruses.
- Hormones and growth factors that could stimulate the growth and development of the digestive system and the child’s immune system.
- Living cells that protect the baby from infections and stimulate their own immune system.
There is no single ideal position for breastfeeding. The important thing is to first be comfortably settled and to feel comfortable. Practice and time will help to find the best positions. The mother should not feel any tension. A stool underfoot and cushions behind the back can help ease tension. A cushion on the knees can also help the baby settle well and prevent the mother from having to support the weight of her child for the duration of the feeding.
A good baby positioning is important for breastfeeding success because it allows for adequate sucking for proper feeding. Many difficulties in starting breastfeeding come from poor positioning of the baby, which causes inadequate sucking.
In a safe position, the baby’s back is resting against the mother’s forearm, his head is movable in the crook of his elbow, and his shoulder is in the axis of the ear and hip. The tip of the nose and the tip of the chin are both in equal contact with the breast. When the baby sucks, his chin should be against the breast, and the baby should suck the entire areola and nipple firmly. If the baby’s nose is pushed into the breast while the chin is detached, bring the baby’s body closer to you. If the baby’s chin is not touching the breast, raise the baby a little higher.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Wondering if breastfeeding has any benefits? The answer is yes! There are many benefits to breastfeeding your toddler. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for at least six months. But this must remain a real choice! Breastfeeding or not? The decision is up to the mother. The debate between pro-breastfeeding advocates and others is often lively. Some young mothers can feel real pressure when they do not want to breastfeed. And others, who have chosen to breastfeed, do not know to whom to direct their questions.
Breast milk is a complete food; it contains all the nutrients the baby needs – at least 400 nutrients – including hormones and anti-infective compounds that cannot be found in milk powders. Its nutritional composition is modified and adapts to the needs of the baby as it grows and develops.
The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For The Baby’s Health
There is a lot of scientific evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding.
- Breastfed babies are less often affected by infections. Their risk of gastrointestinal infections (eg, gastroenteritis and diarrhea) is significantly reduced compared to babies fed with milk powders.
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of upper respiratory infections (colds and flu). Breastfeeding also decreases the frequency of bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
- Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- Breastfeeding helps protect against certain inflammatory diseases, for example:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
- For asthma, allergies, and hay fever, the protective effect is less clear.
- The majority of studies have noted that breastfed children have better results in intelligence tests. This is an acceleration of cognitive development, and the beneficial effect seems to diminish over time.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mother
- Exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding can help the mother lose weight during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and perhaps cancer of the ovaries.
- Exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation.
Enjoy breastfeeding to continue the healthy diet you followed during your pregnancy. Eat a lot of fiber and whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as foods rich in protein, calcium, and iron. Take nutritious snacks such as soy yogurt (normal yogurt contains lactose, and many people are not able to digest lactose properly), toast, baked cheese, or fruit. You need to refuel.
Drink plenty of water to promote lactation. Be sure to drink a lot. This will help your body produce the milk you need for your child. Many mothers, who are very thirsty when they breastfeed, have a glass of water on hand at each feeding.
Need breastfeeding tips and advice? You’re at the right address. Regarding your diet, for example, know that, contrary to the period of pregnancy, no food is prohibited during breastfeeding. But as in everyday life, don’t abuse good things; avoid excessive sugar and fat. Every day, it is recommended to consume about 150 g of meat, fish, or protein-rich vegetarian meat substitutes. Regarding the calcium intake for your baby, you obviously prefer dairy products and derivatives, such as cheese. Be aware that vegetables are also good sources of calcium and should be consumed without moderation so that your buttocks benefit from breastfeeding.
Lactation consultants are like a trusty compass for new moms who are navigating the winding path of breastfeeding. They are expertly trained and certified to provide personalized support and direction, as well as hands-on assistance with positioning and latching. They are a safe haven for moms who are experiencing struggles such as lack of milk production or sore nipples. They can be found in private practice, hospitals, or clinics, always ready to lend a listening ear and a helping hand.
The IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is the highest level of certification for lactation consultants.
Support groups are like a comforting embrace for breastfeeding moms. Joining one of these groups can provide a sense of community and a safe space where new moms can voice their worries, share their triumphs, and receive support from other breastfeeding mothers. These support groups can be found in local communities, clinics, and hospitals, and even online through forums and other media platforms.
Online resources, such as breastfeeding-specific websites, blogs, and forums, can be a goldmine of information and support for breastfeeding moms. They offer a wealth of knowledge about breastfeeding, including tips on latch, posture, milk production, and problem-solving. They can also provide breastfeeding moms with a sense of connection and support, making them feel less alone on their journey.
Lastly, breastfeeding helplines are a shining beacon of hope for moms who are feeling overwhelmed. These helplines, offered by hospitals and organizations, provide direct access to lactation consultants, nurses, and other qualified experts who can offer guidance and assistance to moms who are having problems. They are a safety net for moms who need support and encouragement, and a reminder that they are not alone in their journey.
Breastfeeding Helpline Numbers in United States:
- National Breastfeeding Helpline: 1-800-994-9662
- La Leche League International: 1-877-452-5324
- WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program: 1-800-942-3678
- The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine: 1-267-639-9370
- KellyMom: 1-888-590-6767
- Lactation Consultant Referral Line: 1-888-452-9660
- International Lactation Consultant Association: 919-861-5577
How to Stop Breastfeeding?
Just like the baby, the mother must be able to adapt gently to stopping exclusive breastfeeding. If you want to stop breastfeeding, you must know that the breastfeeding remains necessary for the child and the mother for some time, especially to maintain a beautiful intimacy. Stopping breastfeeding is not done overnight. If the child needs to get used to a new diet, you should know that the steps are completed in several weeks, even months.
Things To Remember
Breastfeeding has benefits not only for the health and development of the baby but also for the mother.
Breast milk contains over 200 components. Its composition adapts to the needs of the baby.
According to official recommendations, babies should be fed exclusively with breast milk until 6 months of age.
Related: How Big is My Baby Now?
In conclusion, breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial way to provide nourishment for your baby. It can be a challenging experience for new mothers, but with proper support and guidance, it can be a rewarding one as well. There are many resources available for breastfeeding beginners, such as lactation consultants, support groups, and online forums. Remember that every mother and baby is unique, so it’s important to find what works best for you and your baby. With patience, determination, and support, you can successfully breastfeed your baby and provide them with the best start in life.
Related: How Do I Prepare for Breastfeeding?