It’s never too early to start thinking about how you are going to feed your baby. Breastfeeding gives your baby the best possible start in life as it has a lot of benefits both to the baby and mother that last a lifetime. Just like any new skill, breastfeeding takes time and practice to work. In the first days, you and your baby will be getting to know each other. The more time you spend with your baby, the quicker you will learn to understand each other’s signs and signals.
WHO recommends breastfeeding to be initiated within the first hour of birth. There are many benefits to the mother and baby when breastfeeding is initiated very soon after birth:
• Early initiation of breastfeeding helps stop bleeding from the uterus. It also helps shrink the uterus back to the size it was before pregnancy
• Reduces the risk of neonatal mortality and improves infant survival
• The earlier you put your baby to the breast, the faster the milk comes. This will help the mother to make enough breast milk.
Almost all mothers can make enough milk to breastfeed their baby exclusively for 6 months and continue breastfeeding until their baby is 2 years or older. The size of your breast does not affect how much milk you can make. Even mothers who are sick or thin can make enough milk for their baby.
When a baby suckles at the breast, the tongue and the mouth touch the nipple. The (nerves in the) nipple sends a message to the mother’s brain that the baby wants milk. The brain responds and tells the body to make the milk flow for this feed and to make milk for the next feed. The more the baby suckles, the more milk is produced. How a mother feels and what she thinks can affect how her milk flows. If a mother is happy and confident that she can breastfeed, her milk flows well. However, if she doubts whether she can breastfeed, her worries may stop the milk from flowing
3 Stages of Milk Production:
PHASE 1: COLOSTRUM
This is the thick first milk your breasts make while you are pregnant and just after birth but it can also be thin and white or orange in color.
Benefits of colostrum
It helps protect babies against viruses and bacteria. It is like the baby’s first immunization.
It cleans the baby’s stomach and helps protect the digestive track.
It has all the food and water the baby needs.
Putting the baby in skin-to-skin contact helps regulate the baby’s temperature
PHASE 2: TRANSITIONAL MILK
Transitional milk comes when mature breast milk gradually replaces colostrum. You will make transitional milk from 2-5 days after delivery until up to 2 weeks after delivery.
Transitional milk may be light yellow in color, and contains plenty of fat, water-soluble vitamins and calories. You may notice that your breasts become fuller and warmer and that your milk slowly changes to a bluish-white color. During this time, your breast milk changes to meet your baby's needs. Nursing often, removing milk well, and relieving engorgement will help with milk production.
PHASE 3: MATURE MILK
About 10-15 days after birth, you start making mature milk. It has all the nutrients your baby needs. The amount of fat in mature milk changes as you feed your baby. Let your baby empty your first breast before switching to the other breast during a feeding. This will help your baby get the right mix of nutrients at each feeding. Mature milk consists of foremilk and hindmilk.
Foremilk Milk that flows at the start of a feeding is called foremilk. Watery, high in protein and lactose (milk sugar), and low in fat, it quenches your baby's thirst.
Hind milk As you continue to feed, the milk that flows as your breast empties is called hind milk. Hind milk is richer in fat, high in calories, and satisfies the baby's hunger.
Positioning and Attachment
The mother should be sitting (or lying) somewhere comfortable so she is relaxed. If it helps, she can support a baby on a cushion.
The baby should be facing the breast. Baby and mother should be stomach to stomach
Baby’s back and head should be in a straight line.
The mother should bring the baby to the breast, not her breast to the baby.
The mother should support baby’s buttocks with her palm.
Hold the baby at the back of his shoulders—not the back of his head. Be careful not to push the baby’s head forward
Properly Attached Baby
Poorly Attached Baby
BENEFITS OF EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING:
1. To the Baby
Supplies everything the baby needs to grow well during the first 6 months of life
Digests easily and does not cause constipation
Protects against diarrhea and pneumonia
Provides antibodies to illnesses
Protects against infection, including ear infections
During illness helps keep the baby well hydrated
Reduces the risks of allergies
Increases mental development
Promotes proper jaw, teeth, and speech development
Suckling the breast is comforting to the baby when fussy, overtired, ill, or hurt
Promotes bonding between the baby and the mother
Its the baby’s first immunization
2. To the Mother
Reduces blood loss after birth (immediate breastfeeding)
Breast milk is always ready at the right temperature
Saves time and money
Makes night feedings easier
Delays return of fertility
Reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
Promotes bonding between the mother and baby