Breastfeeding: benefits, tips, positioning, problems and solutions

“Breastfeeding is not a choice, it is a responsibility.”

According to WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION, “Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers.”

Breastfeeding is the mother’s gift to herself, her child and the earth. It is the most natural way to feed your baby. It provides the nutrition your baby needs for the first six months, satisfies his hunger and thirst.

BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING

Breast milk has many benefits for your baby’s healthy:

  • Breastfeeding provides all the benefits that your baby needs for the next six months.
  • It satisfies the baby’s thirst and hunger.
  • The act of breastfeeding helps in jaw development.
  • It protects the infants against the infectious and chronic diseases, as it promotes cognitive and sensory development.
  • It reduces the risk of obesity in childhood and later in life.
  • Breastfeeding contains a range of factors that protects and boosts the immunity system of your baby that is still developing.

Breastfeeding , not only for babies, but also for mothers hold many benefits.

  • The main benefit is that a mother milk is convenient and always available to a child.
  • It reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • It reduces the risk of hemorrhage immediately after delivery.
  • Breastfeeding prolongs the amount of time before you get your periods again.

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL BREASTFEEDING

Breastfeeding is affected by positions and attachment. Therefore, it is very important to have comfortable positioning and good attachment while breastfeeding.

Here are some general tips and ways to position and attach your baby for breastfeeding:

  • Sit comfortably with your back and feet supported – you can be fully upright or you might prefer to be laying back a little bit.
  • Unwrap your baby and hold him or her close against you.
  • Turn your baby on his or her side so they are wrapped around you with their nose level with your nipple.
  • Make sure you support your baby’s neck and shoulders with your hand, but don’t hold your baby’s head – allow him or her to find the best position for attaching to your breast.
  • Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby.
  • Gently brush your baby’s mouth with the underside of your areola – this will usually cause your baby to open their mouth very wide.
  • When your baby opens their mouth, bring him or her quickly to your breast so they take a good mouthful of breast tissue.
  • As you bring your baby to your breast it can help to hold your breast like you would a sandwich, with your nipple aimed at the roof of your baby’s mouth.

It is important that your baby is attached to your breast to avoid breaking of nipples and also your baby will get the most amount of milk out of your breast.

Signs that your baby is well-attached to your breast includes:

  • Your baby’s chin should be tucked into your breast, and his or her mouth should be wide open with the bottom lip curled back.
  • Your baby’s nose will be clear or only just be touching your breast.
  • More of your areola will be visible above your baby’s top lip than below it.
  • Your baby’s cheeks should not be sucking in and there should be no clicking noise during sucking.
  • There should be no nipple pain – but you might feel a stretching sensation as your nipple adjusts to breastfeeding.

HOW REGULARLY WILL MY BABY FEED?

You should always feed your baby when he or she shows signs of hunger. During the first week, the baby develops a habit of feeding 8 to 12 times a day. But how would you get to know if your baby is getting enough milk or not?

Here are some ways to know whether your baby is getting enough milk or not:

  • Your baby is feeding at least 8 times a day (with some of those feeds occurring overnight)
  • He has at least 5 wet disposable nappies or 6 to 8 wet cloth nappies per day
  • He has 2 or more soft or runny bowel movements per day for around the first 6 weeks of life (babies have fewer bowel movements once they reach about 6 weeks)
  • Your baby is gaining weight and growing as expected
  • He is alert when awake, and reasonably contented.

MILK PRODUCTION IN BREASTFEEDING

  • Breast enlargement during pregnancy occurs primarily from the growth of milk-producing glands. Differences in breast size prior to pregnancy are caused more by non-milk-producing fat tissue than by glands. Small-breasted mothers do not produce less milk than do large-breasted mothers.
  • The more much of the time your newborn child sucks (accurately), the more drain you deliver, until the point when you have both arranged the best possible equalization.
  •  It is unusual for a mother not to produce enough milk for her baby unless she is not breastfeeding correctly or frequently enough.
  • If your baby is gaining weight properly, then you are probably doing fine.
  • Sucking on the breast in the same way as from an artificial nipple is likely to produce sore nipples and a reduced milk supply. This “nipple confusion” is why you should not give bottles to babies during the early weeks when they are still learning to suck properly. If a baby sucks incorrectly on a rubber nipple, the baby still gets rewarded with milk. The baby does not get milk when improperly sucking mother’s breast.
  • avoid the use of dummies (pacifiers).

PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH BREASTFEEDING

1. LATCHING PAIN- 

It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.

If the baby’s position is correct and latching on still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Make sure to wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Lanolin-based creams are good for applying between feedings.

2. CRACKED NIPPLES- 

Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush, dry skin, pumping improperly, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood, while kind of gross, won’t harm baby.

3. ENGORGEMENT- 

Engorgement means high milk supply.

It becomes difficult for baby to latch on to the breast because it’s hard and un-conforming to his mouth.  Try hand-expressing a little before feeding to get the milk flowing and soften the breast, making it easier for baby to latch and access milk. Of course, the more you nurse, the less likely your breasts are to get engorged.

4. MASTITIS

Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts marked by flu-like symptoms such as fever and pain in your breasts. It’s common within the first few weeks after birth (though it can also happen during weaning) and is caused by cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement.

5. THRUSH-

Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can also spread to your breasts. It causes incessant itchiness, soreness, and sometimes a rash.

Your doctor will need to give you antifungal medication to put on your nipple and in baby’s mouth — if you’re not both treated at the same time, you can give each other the fungi and prolong healing.

6. LOW MILK SUPPLY

Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand process. If your doctor is concerned about baby’s weight gain, and he is being plotted on the World Health Organization curves designed for breastfeeding babies, this may be the problem.

Frequent nursing and hands-on pumping during the day can help increase milk supply. Surprisingly, forcing fluids and eating more calories or different foods hasn’t been shown to increase milk production.

7. PAINFUL/ OVERACTIVE LEAD DOWN

Your breast is like a machine — when you let down, all the milk-producing engines constrict to move the milk forward and out of your nipple. Sometimes the working of these inner parts can hurt, especially when in overdrive. Some mothers feel a prickly pins-and-needles sensation and others just get an achy feeling.

It has become very important to normalize the idea of breastfeeding.

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