Guide to Improve Your Chances For Breastfeeding Success

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Guide to Improve Your Chances For Breastfeeding Success


Like you, a good number of expecting, or mothers with newborns are faced with the dilemma of whether to breastfeed or formula feed. The rest decide easily because they know the conveniences involved in either method.

Whichever route you take, fed is best.

In this article, we are going to explore breastfeeding and learn all the tricks that can help you breastfeed easier.

Let’s dive in.

What we shall cover;

  • Breastmilk and its wonders.
  • Why it is crucial to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months.
  • Pros and cons of breastfeeding.
  • Tips for successful breastfeeding.
  • What you can expect while breastfeeding.
  • Home and workplace support for breastfeeding moms.

Let’s do this!

The wonderful Breastmilk.

You might not have known this, but the process of milk production starts quite early in your pregnancy stage. Your baby’s developing placenta signals your body to start the complex biological process of preparing the milk. By the second trimester, your milk ducts were most likely fully developed and ready to channel milk would your baby end up being born early.

There are 3 stages of breastmilk.

Colostrum -the first stage that you will encounter, will come in a small amount a few days before or after the birth of your child. This milk is will look slightly yellow and thick. It is rich in antibodies and more concentrated in proteins.

Transitional milk – Comes in second and may last up to 2 weeks. It’s white in color or might look slightly tinged with blue. Your body will produce high quantities of transitional milk as it is yet to learn the amount your baby will need.

Mature milk – The dominant stage, comes in last and also in high volumes. By now, your body has learned a bit about your baby’s feeding demand and will be adjusting the quantity according to the demand. Mature milk will look thinner than transitional milk. It is composed of 90% water and 10 % carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. When your baby is feeding, your breast will first release a watered-down foremilk for hydration before releasing a richer hindmilk for calories.

The real deal

Your infant’s immunity system is not fully developed. He will be relying on yours for a while as his matures.

When your baby sucks on your nipple, its diameter increases and a small back pressure is created inside your breast. This pressure will pull in oral fluids from your baby’s mouth back into your body. This backwash of the baby’s saliva communicates to your immune system the needs of your baby.

In response, your immune system works with your body to prepare just the right ingredients your baby requires in the next feeding. Your breastmilk is therefore not just a ready-to-serve meal but a customized medicine when your baby is in need.

Exclusive breastfeeding; why first 6 months are important.

To breastfeed exclusively means that your baby will only feed on your breast milk or milk from a wet nurse, with the only exemption is of medicine or supplements.

It might seem intimidating and a tough task to be your baby’s only source of nutrition. However, research has found breastmilk to be a perfect meal full of all the nutritional needs of an infant up to the age of 6 months. Health experts, therefore, recommend it for optimal growth, health, and development of any child.

After the first 6 months, with your baby’s immunity matured and appetite increasing, it is proper to gradually start introducing him to other foods and water. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a child continues to breastfeed for up to 2 years of age and above. As a mother, however, if your baby is gaining weight and growing properly, the decision to continue breastfeeding is entirely up to you.

Advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding.

It’s always nice to start on the bright side. So let’s see what’s in it for you and your baby.

Pros:

  1. Breastmilk is a perfect meal for your baby. Its composition is dynamic from day 1. Sugars, protein, fats, and compounds levels are adjusted according to his needs. The backwash mechanism triggers your immunological umbrella to customize the immune factors in the milk for your baby.
  2. It is medicinalColostrum has high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA) that form a layer of protection in your baby’s nose, throat, and digestive tract. Breastmilk has been found to protect children against infections of the upper respiratory tract and the middle ear. Breastfed children are at a lower risk of getting child leukemia, allergies, and bowel diseases. Also, preterm babies can be protected against necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal inflammation that causes death.
  3. Might help you lose weight. For your body to make milk, it melts your body fats. Cool, right? The baby weight you gain during pregnancy is, in fact, a stock of fat cells your body will use later on to make food for your baby. It is normal and part of the process for your body to lose weight during breastfeeding. And to prove this, your body will likely feel hot and even sweat when you nurse your baby.
  4. Helps your body to quickly recover from the traumas of childbirthBreastfeeding triggers the pituitary gland in your brain to produce a ‘love hormone ‘ called oxytocin. This hormone on its own is credited with good feelings like orgasms, relaxation, stress and anxiety reduction, lowering blood pressure, and causing muscle contraction. When you breastfeed, your oxytocin levels ramp up, helping you to bond with your child and your uterus to shrink down to its normal size. It also triggers the let-down reflex in your breasts that makes your milk flow down easily.
  5. A natural birth control method. Lactational Amenorrhea is something you might experience 6 months prenatal if you breastfeed exclusively. It can be described as nature’s way of ensuring spacing between consecutive pregnancies.  In lactational amenorrhea, your body does not ovulate nor menstruate. Instead, it focuses more on producing optimal nutrition for your child.
  6. Cost-effective and convenient. Breastmilk can be a cost-free meal or require just a little investment in purchasing a pump and feeding bottles. You will not incur recurring costs like when buying formula.  Also, breastmilk is almost always readily available and at the right temperature and sanitation. No prior preparations are needed.

Though it might seem like the best choice, there are some downsides that are too significant to ignore. Let’s walk through them.

Cons:

  1. It can be uncomfortable. In the first few weeks or months, as you and your baby are getting to know each other, breastfeeding can get painful. It is common at this time for your nipples to get sore and cracked, and for your breasts to feel sore, and painful from clogged ducts. Some women also get mastitis, an inflammation that often leads to an infection.
  2. Dietary restrictions. Your baby may be out of your body but it won’t mean that you are finally at liberty to eat whatever you want. You are required to be alert on what you eat as some of it will end up passing to your baby through the milk. While it is okay to eat spices and garlic, you will be required to be modest in alcohol or caffeine consumption. You will also need to alert your doctor when he gives you a prescription.
  3. Restricted movement. Your infant will ask to feed every one to three hours maximum. That means that you cannot go anywhere far from him without risking a missed feeding. There is an easy solution to this though. Pump.

Tips for successful breastfeeding.

Armed with the following tips, you will be able to breastfeed for years and you and your baby will love it.

  1. Prior preparation. You might need to designate a location, comfortable seat, and a nursing pillow for this. Being comfortable allows your mind to relax and be calm. For your energy, keep some healthy snacks and a lot of drinking water at an arms reach when breastfeeding or pumping. Your body will be in need of an additional 500+ calories to balance off what it is releasing. As for water, taking small sips now and then helps with the let-down reflex. A book or your phone might keep your mind engaged.
  2. Eat lactogenic foods. Including lactogenic foods in your meal will make a huge impact on your milk production. Examples of these foods are fenugreek and fennel seeds, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, leafy greens, beets, carrots, oats, barley malt, goats rue, garlic, blessed thistle, etc. Not only will these foods add your milk, they will be an additional source for your calorific, mineral, and nutritional needs, ensuring that you stay healthy and strong.
  3. Pumping or feeding on a schedule. Breastmilk production follows the law of demand and supply. The higher the demand, the more milk will be produced. To increase or maintain your supply, ensure that you are nursing or pumping every two hours. Power pumping will also trick your body by artificially increasing the nursing frequency and demand.
  4. proper latch. Latching is how your baby mouths your nipple and areola when nursing.  A bad latch can stand in the way of successful breastfeeding. Your baby won’t get all the milk he needs and your body will interpret this as low demand, tanking your supply. Additionally, it will hurt your nipples, leaving them sore and cracked and the whole session will be painful. For a good latch, direct your baby’s mouth such that he gums your areola. This way, he will be able to effectively express milk from your breast.
  5. Breastfeeding Positions. How you hold your baby during nursing matters. Positions dictate whether your baby is able to mouth your areola with ease. Every set of mother and child is unique and you might have to try out several positions before knowing which will work best for you and your child. The common positions are:-
  •  
    •  
      • Laidback nursing.
      • cradle hold.
      • Cross cradle hold.
      • Ball hold.
      • Side-lying position.
      • Koala hold.

A good position will enable your baby to latch properly or even help with clearing clogged ducts.

What to expect if you are new to breastfeeding.

  • Your baby will need to feed frequently. (Every 1 – 3 hrs). His stomach is tiny and will require about 8 to 12 feedings per day.
  • Feeding patterns will vary. If you follow your baby’s lead/ feed on demand, some sessions will be longer than others. He might cluster feed for 45 minutes for one session and be on the breast for 7 minutes for the next. As long as he is gaining weight and has enough wet and soiled diapers, the pattern is hardly a cause of worry.
  • His poops will be different from those of a formula-fed baby. Breastmilk-fed babies have poops that are yellow in color and runny. They also go less frequently.
  • He might get frustrated during feeding and even refuse to nurse. While it’s normal, it is good to eliminate probable causes like over and undersupply of milk and distractions.
  • You will feel thirsty. Milk from your body is 90% water. To replenish your body, ensure to drink about 128 ounces / 3.8 liters of fluid. You should however avoid sodas and sugary drinks. Staying hydrated will also save you from constipation, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches.
  • Discomforts; Leaking, soreness, engorgements, lopsidedness, and pain. These are however temporary and only last for a few months.

Home and workplace support for breastfeeding moms.

Breastfeeding is good for everyone. As a statement, August 1st to 7th is globally recognized as the world’s breastfeeding week. Global organizations have acknowledged the need to support breastfeeding mothers through organized and predictable structures.

With proper support, breastfeeding will be easier for you you and you will be able to do it for a longer-term. There are roles that your partner, family, community, employer, and government should play towards this.

To highlight a few examples;

  • Your partner can get involved by learning the basics of what is expected or in setting goals for breastfeeding.  Financial expenses that may arise should also be a shared responsibility.
  • Your employer is required by law to give paid maternity leave to female employees. He should have a set policy with established guidelines for breastfeeding employees. On returning to work, he is required to provide a private, clean, and well-ventilated nursing room with facilities such as clean water, comfortable seats, and or storage facilities. You are entitled to pumping breaks every few hours of not less than 30 minutes each, every time you are at work.
  • Health providers; A Lactational consultant should be available to you in an event of you needing one. Also, to note, some insurance providers cover the cost of hospital-grade breast pumps for nursing mothers, ensure to check with your provider before enrolling for a plan.

To conclude;

Breastfeeding is natural, convenient, and cost-effective. Research and emerging technologies keep uncovering previously unknown benefits. Also, mothers and health professionals are constantly realizing methods of making it even easier for modern times. With proper knowledge and support, breastfeeding can play a big role in the general well-being of everyone involved. The decision of whether or not to breastfeed is however up to you. As long as your baby is fed, you are doing a great job!

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