Human milk is the absolute perfect food for an infant- it is full of living antibodies and customised for your baby. The benefits of breastfeeding your baby extends well beyond just basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the basic nutrients and vitamins that your baby needs especially in the first six months of life, breast-milk is actually packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.
Breast milk is thus, such a unique nutritional source that cannot adequately be replaced by any other food whatsoever, including infant formula. It is easier to digest for most premature babies, lowers health care costs, it builds strong physical and emotional bond between the mother and the baby, it is the healthiest way of feeding the baby and it is good for the mothers’ health too. In fact, today most women are now choosing to breastfeed. After taking note of the common breastfeeding challenges that these mums face, this article offers plenty of time-tested valuable tips for better breast feeding to make this noble responsibility more successful and an enjoyable experience especially to most first-time mums.
1. Getting started
At the beginning, your body will produce a small amount of concentrated special milk called colostrums- it is rich in vitamins, protein and immune factors to protect your baby from infections. The reason why this early milk is usually concentrated and why babies want to feed often in the beginning is because their stomachs are still very small and delicate and cannot hold a large amount of milk, but as his/her tummy grows your milk will grow and you will produce more of it. When starting to feed your young one, turn her whole body towards you, chest to chest, learn to express your milk by hand to help attract the baby’s attention. You can easily do this by putting a few drops of the breast milk onto your nipple and then touching her upper lip with your nipple to help the baby start a feed. The early stages of breastfeeding may comprise a few challenges like your newborn finding trouble finding or staying on your nipple and a little pain as your nipples open up to allow free flow of milk. Do not panic- breastfeeding require patience and practice.
2. Find a quiet spot
The first time you breastfeed your newborn is likely to be in a hospital bed, hopefully with a nurse to guide your baby’s mouth. At this point, ambiance should be the least of your concerns. However, when you get on your own back at home, you’ll want to find a quiet place where both you and your baby can relax- probably somewhere with limited noise and low lights. This right environment not only puts your baby in the feeding mood, it also sends your body the signal that it’s time to let the milk flow.
3. Get the right position
Few mums usually think breastfeeding come naturally, and they get put to test in those first days and weeks. Breastfeeding is supposed to be the most beautiful time in your life. There are a variety of baby positions which you can choose from to ensure that your baby is comfortable during the feed. These positions include the cradle, the cross my heart, side lying and the football hold positions. Try to switch sides when breastfeeding, just the same way you do when nursing. This simple move promotes both visual stimulation and development. Most first time mums become so nervous about holding their newborn and supporting his/her head properly that trying to get him/her in the right position to latch may seem impossible. You can get help from your health t if you have such difficulties. A health visitor can give you valuable information and a major confidence boost.
4. Let your baby set the pace
For the first few weeks most newborns breastfeed every two to three hours round the clock. You should watch for the early indicators of hunger such as restlessness, stirring, lip movements and sucking motions. Let your newborn nurse your first breast thoroughly until it feels soft. This may take about twenty minutes. Offer the baby the other breast. If your baby is still hungry he/she will latch on. If not, then you’ll have to start your next breastfeeding session with the second breast. If you realise that your baby only consistently feeds on only one breast at every feeding session, you can pump the other breast to relieve the pressure and to protect your milk supply.
5. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate
A nursing mum needs to drink enough water. Remember breast milk is manly made of water, so it is super-imperative to drink plenty of it each day to help you maintain a healthy supply of your breast milk, and to stay hydrated. The requirements differ among individuals, but as long as you don’t feel thirsty or have a medical condition that affects your fluid intake, and you produce at least 6 cups of urine a day that is light yellow in colour, it’s likely you are drinking enough of the fluids your body needs. Experts warn that not getting enough fluids can contribute to maternal constipation, fatigue and impaired milk concentrations.