Breastfeeding is an experience in itself. Some might have an enjoyable episode while others might not. But one thing is for sure, every new mother is apprehensive about breastfeeding and things associated with it. The process itself might be filled with anxiousness and self-doubt at the same time. Seeing a “just delivered” and hungry newborn can be too overwhelming. But doubts like, “how will I do it?” or “will I be able to produce enough milk?” are daunting. The icing on the cake is when elder females of the house come up with their version of when, how and why to breastfeed. Rest all the apprehensions aside and consult a doctor or a trained midwife to understand the nurturing act.
A few aspects are penned down below to help make breastfeeding a strong bonding experience.
When to Breastfeed
Even though milk-producing glands are developed, milk is produced when the baby starts suckling. In a normal delivery, it is advisable to breastfeed the baby as soon as one is wheeled out of the delivery room. In case of caesarean delivery, the mother can start feeding when she is comfortable holding the baby which generally takes a few hours. Initially, babies might need a feeding every 2 hours for short durations, i.e. 8-9 feeds in a day. The frequency decreases as the feeding time increases. After a couple of months, the feed frequency can come down to about 5-6 feeds a day. But, again, this depends on the weight and health of the baby. A premature and lightweight baby may need more feeding and for longer durations. Indication to feed may be that the baby starts crying or nuzzling towards the chest or making suckling noises with lips and tongue.
How to Breastfeed
Breastfeeding requires latching and positioning. Latching is a term used for a baby’s hold onto the nipple. If the mother does not experience any pain or soreness, the baby gets a steady flow of milk and both are comfortable, then the latch is perfect. For positioning, one can sit comfortably and cradle the baby in the arms to breastfeed. Support of a cushion over the lap and under the baby can save the mother from backache. One can also try lying down on a side and feeding. Ideally, one can be open-minded and experiment with various positions before deciding on the best one.
Why to Breastfeed
Breastfeeding protects the baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and increases immunity. Initially, the milk is thick and yellow in colour because of colostrum. This stage is of utmost importance to the newborn as it contains vital nutrients essential for immediate immunity. Later, after a week, the consistency changes to slightly thinner milk and further, after another week, the consistency is watery thin. At each stage, the milk is a carrier of micronutrients that the body of the newborn can absorb, process and digest. One can also experience heaviness and leaking. A complete feed can solve this problem.
- While breastfeeding one can experience sharp hunger pangs. This is because breastfeeding requires extra calorie intake to fulfil the needs of the baby. So eating well and healthy is highly recommended.
- Questions like, “is it enough for my baby?” always torment a new mother. The point to note is if the baby is not cranky or is dozing off after a feed, then the quantity is enough.
- Nursing mothers should maintain good personal hygiene. Keeping the breasts clean and dry should be of utmost priority.
- Breastfeeding ensures period-less time. So one need not worry about not starting with menstruation.
- Another common myth revolves around the size of the breast. Though the breasts enlarge during pregnancy and lactation, the size plays no role in the amount of milk produced.
- Does eating a type of food affect the taste of milk? Mother’s milk always has a distinct smell and taste. The smell is what the baby is attached to. Eating a type of food, for example, spicy food or any gas-producing food can affect the baby’s stomach. This also means that a fussy eating mother, unknowingly, develops a fussy eating child. The best thing is to eat a variety and not be picky and choosy. But one does need to keep a close watch on the frequency and colour of the leaks. Lesser number of leaks is an indication that the baby is dehydrated.
Like every bond, breastfeeding requires patience. The time-consuming and draining process calls for a calm and relaxed atmosphere. It is a fact that nobody gets it right in the first go. So it is pertinent to take it easy, loosen up and enjoy breastfeeding the newborn.