When I was pregnant , breastfeeding was my last concern. In my vision, after the moment I gave birth to my baby , the second image was me feeding my baby, naturally, without any issue. But guess what? My feeding experience starts with me, after an emergency cesarean, at 32 weeks, struggling to hand express 1 ml of colostrum ( substance produced by breast, yellow to orange in colour, and thick and sticky in texture).
Next 5 weeks meant a hard working process of pomp expressing, hand-expressing, nipple shields ending with my special moment of first breastfeeding, which was speechless.
This article is written to encourage mothers in difficult situations, who experience various problems in breastfeeding. Even if you feel breastfeeding is difficult (a preterm baby, breast injuries, baby refusal to breastfeed, not having enough milk etc.) you should not give up! With practice it gets easier for you and your baby.
It’s very important to be patient and persevere, no effort is to big for your baby’s health. Breastfeeding is more than the fundamental right of the child, it is more than food supply for the baby. Breastfeeding is an art, it is unconditional love, it is relaxing , it is merging, it is veiling one in the other’s presence.
The attachment between you, the mother and your baby is unique and appears still during the pregnancy. It is a bond of affection, unique and extremely strong and resistant that will unite the two lives.
Besides skin-on-skin contact, breastfeeding is the second most important method to strengthen the emotional connection between you and your baby.
To begin with, we should see which are the benefits of this white gold (breast milk) for the baby and the mother, benefits that are going to last a lifetime.
Breastfeeding Benefits for the Baby
- Breast milk contains antibodies that protect the baby from germs and viruses. Recent studies show that children who are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life are less at risk for ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory diseases and may be less at risk of developing childhood obesity.
- It Boosts immunity and resistance to infection. It prevents allergies and other diseases ( colds, diarrhea, infectious diseases) due to the antibodies that it contains. The immune system of natural breastfed babies responds better to immunizations for polio, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophiliacs influenza.
- Breastfeeding helps teething and develops the ability to chew.
- Most babies digest breast milk better than any formula milk.
- Breastfed premature babies grow better than premature babies that are given formula milk.
- It is rich in fatty acids (DHA) that stimulate brain development.
Benefits for the Mother
- Breastfeeding consumes calories, facilitating additional weight loss gained during pregnancy.
- It also helps the uterus to recover to its normal size faster by stimulating oxytocin (the hormone that causes the contraction of the uterus) and lessens the bleeding that the woman may have after giving birth
- Exclusive Breast Feeding (without being supplemented with formula milk) delays menstrual cycle and ovulation; Exclusively breastfeeding women have little chance of getting pregnant; if you like to choose a contraceptive it is still necessary to talk with the doctor.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of osteoporosis and some cancers of the breast or ovary.
- Breastfeeding is free and convenient: no heating baby bottles in the middle of the night; the mother can breast feed the baby whenever he is hungry.
- Breastfeeding requires a respite in which both mother and child are in close contact together, in an atmosphere of peace and relaxation.
- Breastfeeding develops positive emotions: breastfeeding strengthens the attachment between mother and child. Physical contact is important to newborns and help him feel safe, protected and surrounded with warmth.
- Nursing mothers develop their confidence and increase proximity to the child.
Smoking affects the breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, yes. Many of the toxic substances from tobacco enter the bloodstream and into the milk. In addition, even smoking near the baby’s causes respiratory problems and increases the risk of sudden, infant death. Reduce the number of cigarettes or opt for weaker variants, never during the breastfeeding or around your baby.
If I had milk leaking in the 9th month, does that mean that I can not breastfeed?
These leaks represent the colostrum, a substance prior to breast milk, rich in protein and low in fat and sugar, with a large number of antibodies. Not all women have these leaks and this does not affect in any way the lactation capacity. The milk comes faster if you put the baby to breast faster: ideally between 30 minutes to two hours after birth. Baby ‘s suck reflex will stimulate lactation. Most likely after two days, you’ll have plenty of milk.
If I can not immediately breastfeed, will my baby suffer?
Your baby will have a very low food need in the first days of life, so he won’t worry because of it. However, it is the best moment to make most of the colostrum: one teaspoon at every meal is enough for your baby. In addition, if you had anesthesia or prolonged labor, the baby can be dizzy and lazy. Similarly, do not panic, he will recover quickly.
I will give birth by C- section and want to know if I could breastfeed?
Surely you can do this, but the pace depends on how fit you and your baby are. If everything goes well, without complications or side effects after surgery, you’ll be able to start breastfeeding immediately. It is possible that, at first, it might seem uncomfortable to you because of the surgery but do your best and you will succeed.
I am concerned that I will not have enough milk!
Many mothers have to deal with an insufficient amount of milk for their babies and the causes are diverse: the most important being stress. Lactation is a problem related to subconsciousness and self-confidence. All mothers have milk if the family supports them. What can you do in addition? Drink herbal teas that stimulate lactation: anise, caraway, fennel, lemon balm, dill, carrot, mint.
You can use them individually or in combination, for better results. It is best, to drink them in small quantities during the confinement, then during breastfeeding period, whenever you feel that milk is less. The tea starts working after the first few days of consumption.
During breastfeeding, medication is as restrictive as in pregnancy?
Yes, restriction and caution remain as important as during pregnancy. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication and, if you were prescribed one, try to do in such a manner that the concentration in the milk is as small as possible.
If I have small breasts and very flat nipples can I breastfeed?
Of course you can: this is not a problem because anyway breasts have the ability to produce and distribute milk. Breastfeeding is possible in any case regardless of the shape or size of the breasts or nipples.
Problems and Solutions
I fear that breastfeeding will fail at first
There is no reason for this fear. Although breastfeeding is natural, it becomes a natural process only later for some mothers. Sometimes, some physical factors hinder those first attempts or simply inexperience of the two Hattrick. But do not give up after the first attempt and soon breastfeeding will take place in perfect harmony. Some of the most satisfying breast-baby relationships debut after several days or even weeks. It is best to be fully prepared: follow a prenatal breastfeeding or read books and so, your fear will disappear.
What should I eat for my milk to be good and sufficient?
First, avoid foods stimulants (cereals, coffee, cocoa and other beverages with caffeine) but also those that cause bloating (eggs, beans, cabbage, peas, chickpeas) or have potential allergens (peanuts, walnuts, strawberries, kiwi, mussels). The fat-based composition of human milk protein-carbohydrate addiction is not what you eat but some vitamin deficiencies affecting the content, as well as excess.
You can drink a cup of coffee and occasionally just a sip of alcohol after breastfeeding if you really feel the need for it. You can also eat something sweet but in moderation. The essential: a diet rich in sweets will interfere with lactation. You can take a vitamin supplement for breastfeeding mothers.
How do I choose the right position for breastfeeding?
The baby should be placed right under the breast when you can observe that he stars to open a very wide mouth: direct his gum down very much below the base of the nipple. Therefore he has to suck around the areola (the pigmented area around the nipple) and sit on one side, facing the nipple and with the head straight. Always move the child close to the breast and not vice versa, to avoid trouble with grasping the breast. The baby sucks and swallows, and milk flows into an optimal stream.
If you notice a strong movement, steady and rhythmic in his cheeks it means that the process works
What can I do to relieve engorgement?
This problem involves a high abundance of breast milk and debuts at three to four days after birth due to late commissioning breastfed child. Breasts are overflow, feel warm and heavy, flattening the nipple and the areola becomes hard.
Sometimes it is accompanied by an increasing temperature: around 37.8° C. Under no circumstances, give up breastfeeding: it is the best solution, because the baby sucking unlocks the breast. To stimulate milk flow, apply warm compresses before breast during breastfeeding for 20 minutes.
Do not use medication, reduce fluid intake and apply something cool after breastfeeding (an ice pack- for like 2 minutes) and then you can apply an inflammatory breast cream prescribed by your doctor.
Mother and infant should learn, each in their own way, the correct breastfeeding’s “technicality”.
- Before putting the infant to the breast, the mother needs to wash hands thoroughly; all the time she need to keep her nails clean and cut short, in advance. The mother should wash the breasts with sterile compresses. Never use oil with fatty substances for the breasts nor apply disinfectants: they proved unnecessary and sometimes harmful.
- The smell is usually irritating for the baby and then he can refuse the breast.
- Preparation for breastfeeding should take place before the infant is awake; if he is forced to wait until the mother is ready, the baby can become nervous. Some infants will not suck if they have just awoken; probably because they do not feel hungry and also they are not satisfied with their sleep being interrupted. That is why the “diet on demand” works best.
- For breastfeeding the mother needs to choose the most comfortable position for her and the baby. In the early days, the mother should stay in confinement, in bed, with a pillow or rolled blanket under her head, so that the chest area is a little higher. The mother should lie on one side and the newborn will be placed facing the mother. With one hand the mother should introduce the nipple in the newborn’s mouth .
- The mother should comprise the edges of the areola, squeezing them between the forefinger and middle finger so the baby’s nose remains free for breathing.
- While breastfeeding, the mother should not ever remove the baby from the breast or to do other things (answer the phone, close a door, etc.). The brutal uprooting of the baby’s mouth can lead to subsequent refusal of the breast!
- If the infant falls asleep during breastfeeding, before serving the required amount of milk, the mother must push and pull the nipple easily from the baby’s mouth or she could also, gently, press a finger on his cheek.
Be careful! If the baby doesn’t want to breastfeed sometimes, you should not forced him! If the infant has served a more generous ratio at a previous breastfeeding, he can still “jump” over the next meal, preferring to sleep; this is a normal thing, so you don’t have to worry.
Hopefully, this article will make you understand the importance of breastfeeding and encourage you to try your best to succeed. Every effort to achieve this successfully will finally pay off!
Remember: getting the hang of breastfeeding can take a while, but the benefits will last you and your baby, a lifetime!