The Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Comprehensive Guide
When you breastfeed, you give your baby a healthy start that lasts a lifetime. Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. Breastfeeding saves lives, money, and time.
Five great benefits of breastfeeding
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most babies.
Breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases.
Breast milk shares antibodies from the mother with her baby.
Mothers can breastfeed anytime and anywhere.
Breastfeeding can reduce the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
3 Must-Have Foods for Lactating Mothers
Calcium-Rich Foods, Protein-Rich Foods, Iron-Rich Foods
Things to strictly follow while Breastfeeding
Eat little and often. Balance your day with three main meals, and two to three little snacks each day.
Keep a gap of at least one to two hours between your supper and bedtime.
Eat at least one serving of dry fruits per day, such as two figs, two walnuts, two raisins, etc.
Include seasonal fruits and vegetables to meet your vitamin A, E, C, and B complex needs. Note that fruits should only be eaten in the afternoon or evening.
Consume a variety of cereals, including oats, ragi, jowar, whole wheat, and broken wheat.
Consume foods from all the food categories (pulses, fruits and vegetables, cereals, dairy, sugar, and nuts).
Have at least 3litres of fluid every day. You could balance this between plain water, herbal teas, milk, soups, juice, lime water, and buttermilk.
Limit items like butter, cheese, ghee, and cream that are excessively high in saturated fat, as well as ready-to-eat meals with preservatives, deep-fried foods, alcoholic beverages, savouries, soft drinks, packaged juices, sweets, and white sugar.
Limit your use of coffee and tea. They prevent the absorption of iron in the body.
Stay away from any medications or herbal supplements without consulting your doctor or dietician.
Positioning the mother and baby for good attachment
To be well attached at the breast, a baby and his or her mother need to be appropriately positioned. There are several different positions for them both, but some key points need to be followed in any position.
Position of the mother
The mother can be sitting or lying down (see PIC DOWN ), or standing, if she wishes. However, she needs to be relaxed and comfortable, and without strain, particularly of her back. If she is sitting, her back needs to be supported, and she should be able to hold the baby at her breast without leaning forward.
Position of the baby
The baby can breastfeed in several different positions in relation to the mother: across her chest and abdomen, under her arm (See PICS BELOW), or alongside her body.
Whatever the position of the mother, and the baby’s general position in relation to her, there are four key points about the position of the baby’s body that are important to observe.
The baby’s body should be straight, not bent or twisted. The baby’s head can be slightly extended at the neck, which helps his or her chin to be close in to the breast.
He or she should be facing the breast. The nipples usually point slightly downwards, so the baby should not be flat against the mother’s chest or abdomen, but turned slightly on his or her back able to see the mother’s face.
The baby’s body should be close to the mother which enables the baby to be close to the breast, and to take a large mouthful.
His or her whole body should be supported. The baby may be supported on the bed or a pillow, or the mother’s lap or arm. She should not support only the baby’s head and neck. She should nograsp the baby’s bottom, as this can pull him or her too far out to the side, and make it difficult for the baby to get his or her chin and tongue under the areola.
These points about positioning are especially important for young infants during the first two months of life.
How a baby attaches and suckles at the breast
To stimulate the nipple and remove milk from the breast, and to ensure an adequate supply and a good flow of milk, a baby needs to be well attached so that he or she can suckle effectively Difficulties often occur because a baby does not take the breast into his or her mouth properly, and so cannot suckle effectively.
Good attachment – inside the infant’s mouth.
THE PIC shows how a baby takes the breast into his or her mouth to suckle effectively. This baby is well attached to the breast.
The points to notice are:
much of the areola and the tissues underneath it, including the larger ducts, are in the baby’s mouth;
the breast is stretched out to form a long ‘teat’, but the nipple only forms about one third of the ‘teat’;
the baby’s tongue is forward over the lower gums, beneath the milk ducts (the baby’s tongue is in fact cupped around the sides of the ‘teat’, but a drawing cannot show this);
the baby is suckling from the breast, not from the nipple.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Your baby is getting enough milk if they:
Act satisfied after each feeding
Gain weight consistently after the first 3 to 7 days after birth. (Your baby may lose a little weight during the first week after being born.)
Have about 6 to 8 wet diapers a day
Have about 2 to 5 or more stools a day at first. This number may decrease to about 2 stools or less a day
Sometimes babies fall asleep while nursing. You can squeeze your breast to make more milk flow. This may awaken your baby. If you are not sure they got enough milk, offer your other breast to see if your baby latches on again.
When to see your doctor
A red, sore, or painful spot on your breast
Painful engorgement (overfull breasts)
A fever or if you feel achy (these may be signs of an infection)
You also visit your doctor if your baby is losing weight for no apparent reason.
At times, breastfeeding can be challenging. With support, some of the issues with breastfeeding are temporary and can be resolved. There are people and resources that can help. Talk with your healthcare provider.
Stay healthy, stay active, and consciously try to be happy. What you eat and how you feel is almost exactly how healthy your child will be. However, if the diet and conscious changes in lifestyle don’t help, consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor can help you see through the missing links and positively alleviate the physical, mental, or emotional signs of distress.