Breastfeeding has innumerable benefits both for the newborn baby and the mother.
You have gone through labor and have welcomed your baby in the world, the first thing a new mom would hear after birthing a child is about breastfeeding them.
Most new moms are capable of breastfeeding unless, in conditions like HIV which could transfer the virus to the baby, they are advised not to.
This article will discuss:
- Types of Breastfeed
- Benefits of breastfeeding for the child
- Benefits of breastfeeding for the mom
Types of Breastfeed
Many people are unaware that breastfeed develops in three forms over time. According to the baby’s needs, the right amount of breast milk is produced by your body.
Colostrum is the first stage of your breast milk which your body produces initially. It is thick and yellow in color. It is rich in quality and low in quantity.
Since, the baby’s stomach is small, they need less milk in the early days but this milk is full of antibodies, nutrients and vitamins that can strengthen the baby’s immunity.
Transitional milk starts on day 3 to 5. As the name goes, it is a phase in which the milk stays from day 3 to 14 to further become mature milk. Your breasts will feel heavier because the feed intake of your baby will also increase.
This milk is rich in calories and fat which is required for the nourishment and growth of your baby while still being full of nutrients and antibodies.
Mature Milk is finally formed completely by the fourth week. It is white in color and is full of proteins, vitamins, hormones, enzymes as the necessary components for the growth of your baby.
At this stage, the composition of breast milk can alter according to the needs. For instance, if you develop an issue then the milk will now contain antibodies to protect the baby from it.
Hence, milk production and milk supply keep changing in these stages.
You can now also take out enough milk in a breast pump.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for The Baby
Ever since you would have pregnancy symptoms, you would have started preparing for the arrival of your baby. From buying clothes to arranging a cot, a mother is usually well prepared for the arrival of their child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for newborns for at least 6 months. Moreover, you should start breastfeeding the first hour after birth or as your doctor recommends.
However, it is still a surprise that every 2 in 3 babies are not breastfed for the initial 6 months.
While infant formula milk is an option, it does not bring benefits to the baby as breastfeeding does.
The natural ingredients in breast milk are hard to replicate. Breastfeed contains enzymes, white blood cells, and antibodies that strengthen the baby’s immune system and help in protecting the infant from diseases.
It has the perfect mix of nutrients like vitamins and proteins that your baby needs to grow as soon as they come into this world. Besides, it is a lot more digestible than powdered formula milk.
Since these proteins and fats are easily digested, they can prevent your baby from contracting eczema and other allergies and give more health benefits.
The NHS recommends feeding your baby nothing else than breast milk for the first 6 months. Other foods can be incorporated later and this is why, the first 6 months of your baby are very important against developing infections and diseases.
Since breast milk has a good amount of antibodies and white blood cells, breastfed babies are less likely to fall sick. Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and viruses such as pneumonia, inflammatory bowel disease and breathing and ear infections.
On the other hand, formula-fed infants are 3 times more likely to develop ear infections and 5 times more probable of getting respiratory diseases. Moreover, as breast milk is more digestible, the infant does not encounter as many issues with the gut like diarrhea or constipation as formula-fed babies.
Half as many breastfed babies pass away from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) than formula-fed babies.
There is also a chance that your child will not be a healthy weight if you do not breastfeed. Breastfed babies are just the right weight and not obese. One explanation of this is how breastfeeding mothers do gather when their baby is satiated and do not overfeed their baby. Hence, breastfed babies are less likely to turn obese later.
Mothers develop antibodies for the infections or diseases they have contracted, through breast milk they are able to provide their child those antibodies. Therefore, breastfed babies have fewer chances of developing meningitis and diabetes.
Overall they get sick less often and do not develop cavities thus making your baby healthy. Breastfeed soothes a newborn baby and makes the mother-baby bond even stronger.
However, the importance and benefits of breastfeeding do not end in infanthood. Some of these advantages have long-lasting effects.
Teenagers and adults who have been breastfed have fewer chances of developing autoimmune diseases like lupus and arthritis. They also get lucky with cardiovascular diseases and do not contract them early in adulthood.
Other serious diseases like multiple sclerosis and breast cancer are also less likely to develop.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers
The importance of breastfeeding usually overlooks mothers.
For some it will seem like the chores would not be equally divided among the parents but what most people don’t know is that breastfeeding helps women as much as it helps their babies.
A woman’s body undergoes 9 months of pregnancy and then labor, breastfeeding has some hidden advantages that bring relief to the mother.
Breastfeeding helps reduce pregnancy weight in mothers. Since breast milk releases oxytocin, it shrinks the uterus back to its original size. Hence, uterus contraction helps to decrease postpartum bleeding and blood loss which also keeps breastmilk production steady.
Moreover, about 400 calories of breast milk leave your body per day. Therefore, you don’t have to look for other means to reduce weight, when breastfeeding does it slowly but healthily.
There are lower chances of a breastfeeding mom to develop breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well as osteoporosis.
Additionally, physically breastfeeding can also prevent you from developing urinary tract infection, anemia and undergoing postpartum depression.
It will also delay your menstruation. Since, breastfeeding is more time-consuming than a full-time job, it releases prolactin that reduces estrogen and progesterone preventing ovulation hence, menstruation as well.
The benefits are not limited to physical health. Breastfeeding produces prolactin and oxytocin that help in stress reduction and bringing positivity to the new mom. Therefore, you have fewer chances of falling into postpartum depression if you feed your child breast milk.
Since breast milk has so many nutrients and antibodies, babies have strong immunity and they do not fall sick that often. Hence if the baby is happy, so is the mama. The baby will be satiated with the right amount of milk and will cry less giving you less stress and more comfort.
The skin to skin contact that only happens in breastfeeding creates a very special bond between the baby and the mother. This can later help the child to have lesser social issues, gain familiarity with you and trust you guiding their early childhood behavior.
Other benefits include, breastfeed being travel friendly and hassle-free, having less time off from work because if your baby is well, you will not have to take leave from work that often, it is easy on the pockets- formula feed is expensive and babies can take it up to 2 years which become very costly but breastfeed is free.
Also in the long term you are less likely to contract cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and hypertension if you breastfeed your child.
Tips on Breastfeeding
You should be able to identify when your child is hungry to adequately feed him. Infants will usually cry and you can identify that it is time for their feed.
However, there are also other ways that help tell you to breastfeed your baby now and guide you along this breastfeeding journey.
Instead of just crying, your baby might start licking lips and start moving their head in search of your breasts. They may also get fussy and whiny when they are hungry.
They may stick out their tongue and start sucking on their hands to indicate they want to be fed. Hence, let the baby decide their own pace and let you follow suit.
Newer moms should be able to get their breastfeeding position right as soon as possible. When the milk changes from colostrum to mature milk, it becomes harder to change your position because the breasts become firmer. Hence, it is best to form the posture and attachment within the first two days after birth.
However, latching is easier said than done. You should first try to be sit comfortably. Attach your baby with you from tummy to tummy bringing their head up with the help of a pillow. Do not bend your head and neck to bring your breast and nipple near the baby’s mouth. Rather bring his mouth closer to your nipple.
Make sure that your baby has started suckling and extracting milk rather than only sucking. You will be able to notice the suckling, swallowing and breathing flow pattern from your baby.
If the baby is still not latching you can try a nipple shield to help the baby in feeding. Though, it is possible that you are still unable to do that in your first try.
You should be consulting a lactation consultant before trying breastfeeding. They should be able to guide you about the procedure of breastfeeding thoroughly. It is also good to have a community to discuss these issues with.
Mothers who already have been through this period can guide you regarding the process. Mothers always have some tips and tricks you can use on your baby to help them latch.
Other tips include having the baby sleep in your room. It is essential for babies to sleep in the parent’s room in the beginning 6 months to 1 year to avoid SIDS. In this context, this makes feeding easy.
A baby should not be immediately given a pacifier. It is better for them to be familiar with breastfeeding first. Then they can take a pacifier after 4 weeks. Especially if the baby has not latched yet.
You should also take care of your nipples and avoid using soaps and cleaners from coming near them. Use a mild moisturizer recommended by your doctor if the nipples crack.
You should remember to always seek help, when stuck.
The first few months after labor can be the toughest for a mother.
Hence, if you are undergoing this journey, please be mindful of taking care of your health alongside your baby’s health.
Breastfeeding in the first 6 months is essential for your baby so do not avoid that if you can manage to feed your baby.