The period of breastfeeding can be quite challenging for new moms. This stage of parenthood comes with own set of trials and tribulations. If you are feeling the heat of the situation and are looking for information to help you better handle it, you have come to the right article.
We have compiled here all the information, issues and concerns regarding breastfeeding new moms are likely to have.
How does breastfeeding work?
There are two important names that perform the main functions in the process of making breastfeeding possible in the right way. The first one is the progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone. During your pregnancy, its levels rise considerably. This increase in progesterone is what keeps your breasts from letting out the milk that is being produced in your body. Because of this build-up, it is a natural and common phenomenon of finding some milk leaking over the course of your pregnancy.
In the last few weeks of pregnancy, you likely felt or will feel a heaviness or fullness to your breasts. That is the colostrum accumulating already.
After the delivery, the second name – the hormone prolactin steps in. This hormone’s increase results in a decrease in progesterone. Thus, your milk begins to flow. You will notice that in the early days, your milk is thick and yellow in colour. This is the colostrum and it is full of all the nutrients, minerals and gives your baby strength. It is imperative that your baby intakes this milk as the substances present in it prepare their digestive tract to digest breast milk properly.
Why should you breastfeed your baby?
Unless you are finding it difficult to breastfeed due to a particular reason, this method of feeding milk is obviously the most natural and hence, recommended too. Here are a few reasons and benefits of breastfeeding –
Breast milk builds immunity
Newborns are highly susceptible and vulnerable to various kinds of illnesses, diseases, infections, allergies. Thankfully, with the right vaccination and nutrition, most of these can be avoided easily.
This is because we have the tools to build a newborn’s immunity in order that it is strong and resilient enough to fight off viruses and such on its own. There are numerous properties breast milk possesses that help in this process.
There are many other diseases and health conditions that are averted by sufficient intake of breast milk. These illnesses can arise during infancy, or later on in life as well. So, what all of this essentially means is that because breast milk builds up the immunity of your baby and staves off many illnesses, there will be significantly fewer causes of worry for you – significantly less visits to the doctor or anxious calls to your pediatrician in the middle of the night.
You get to bond and spend time with your baby
Breastfeeding is, overall, quite a time-consuming task you will be doing many times daily. This means you get to spend time with your baby and be there for them when they call out. Breastfeeding also involves skin to skin contact. Doctors have been stressing on its importance a lot. This contact helps in the bonding between you two. It reassures your baby in a soothing and warm way that you are there to take care of them.
You are going to cherish these moments of joy for a long time to come – especially when there are times when you feel confused or feel like you do not know how to tackle another area of parenting, these early days offer confidence and hope.
What is the role of position in breastfeeding?
Your baby needs to be able to latch on to your nipple in order for the feeding process to go smoothly. And you need to feel comfortable and not in pain as well. Thus, there is no certified right position to breastfeed. What feels right and comfortable for you two, is the right position for you. If possible, you should definitely begin breastfeeding at the hospital, or in the presence of a professional. They will help you with the positioning and clear any questions or concerns you may have.
How to come to the right position
When you are about to breastfeed your baby, make sure you are comfortable in your seat. Your feet and body should be at ease and supported. You can sit upright or lie down; it depends on you. Hold your baby close to you. Support their neck and spine properly. When they are close enough, they will find the position themselves over time. Thus, you do not need to bend or reposition yourself to facilitate the process.
How many times do you need to feed your baby?
In the first few weeks, babies feed around 8-9 times a day. You just need to keep an eye out on your baby’s behaviour and you will be able to understand if and when they show any signs of being hungry.
You can tell from the number of diapers your baby wet (around five to eight) in a day and by the frequency of a runny bowel in a day in the six weeks after birth. When they are feeding regularly and sufficiently, babies will seem more active and cheerful when they are awake. Their rate of weight gain will be satisfied too, and you can have these checked with your doctor as well.
Is your milk supply enough?
Your baby and your glands are going to keep up with each other. Which means that you are going to produce milk in proportion to how much your baby is consuming it. During feeding, when your baby is no longer sucking on your breast, take it as a sign to reposition the baby to help them suck from your other breast. This maintains supply and ensures your baby has had their full. Up until six months of age, you do not need to give the baby anything other than breast milk. Using formula can hamper milk supply in this time period. After six months, you can complement the milk with some solid foods.
Breastfeeding is a mixed bag. It has its moments of pure bliss and connection with your baby, but it is also exhausting. Make sure you take care of yourself during this time too. Take these precautions and consult your doctor before making any changes or in case of any doubts.