This seemingly natural body function of a new mom doesn’t come as easy as you may think. Some mums struggle to breastfeed after giving birth, especially with their first child. From problems with latching and low milk supply to feeling immense pressure from family to breastfeed the child, every mum goes through a unique journey when it comes to feeding. Some expert advice from lactation consultants, your OB/Gyn, a registered nurse, dai ma, your mother-in-law or mum, can really be helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed, unsure, or underprepared.

WHO states breastfeeding as one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. This year, as we celebrate Breastfeeding Week, with the theme ‘’Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’ let’s learn everything we need to know about breastfeeding. And we must encourage breastfeeding to improve the baby’s health. This breastfeeding week, TC46 gathered all their sources, from answers and advice gained from doctors and experts, to help you know everything you need to know about breastfeeding. 

Did You Know?

The golden yellow milk that the milk glands produce immediately after birth is referred to as ‘liquid gold’.

Benefits Of Breastmilk For The Mother & Child 

Breast milk is also full of antibodies that help the newborn fight infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding has benefits for the mother as it also reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Click here to learn more about breastfeeding. Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology Dr Sushma Tomar of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, shares a few benefits.

For The Baby:

Breast milk contains all the right nutrients in the right quantity for the baby. It almost acts like a vaccine as it contains antibodies that protect your child from viruses and bacteria.

  • For the first six months, the baby’s immune system is weak and it is vulnerable to diseases like cold and cough, ear infections and gut infections. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of such diseases and improves the health of your child
  • It helps in maintaining optimal body temperature for the baby
  • Breast milk is rich in protein and lactalbumin
  • It reduces the risk of developing jaundice in the initial days of life
  • Breast milk has Ideal composition for digestion with low osmotic load; the fats are digested better
  • It promotes optimal oral and brain development
  • Breastfed babies cry less overall, and have fewer incidences of childhood illness
  • It lowers the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and allergies later in life
  • It strengthens the bond between mother and baby
  • It lowers the rate of infant mortality and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Breastfeeding means fewer colds and respiratory illnesses like Pneumonia, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Whooping Cough, fewer ear infections, especially those that damage hearing and fewer cases of Bacterial Meningitis

For The Mum:

As far as moms are concerned, breastfeeding is essential as it releases important hormones like prolactin and oxytocin. 

  • Prolactin and oxytocin are responsible for the production and let down of breastmilk
  • Breastfeeding relaxes the mum and helps her bond with the child
  • Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of postpartum depression 
  • It also helps them lose pregnancy weight
  • It reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • It reduces Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
  • Helps reduce the chances of Anaemia
  • It lessens the risk of postpartum Depression
  • Breastfeeding produces the naturally soothing hormones Oxytocin and Prolactin that promote stress reduction
  • Breastfeeding acts as a natural contraceptive, for a limited time (speak to your Gynaecologist about this)

10 Food Habits To Include In Your Diet, When Breastfeeding

Pregnancy is a phase where every woman indulges and eats all that she wishes to. That’s one phase where every new mom eats guilt-free with all the pampering coming her way. But as soon as she delivers, the question of what to eat and what not to eat starts to daunt her. Especially for mothers who choose to breastfeed, they are warier of what they are eating as it might have an impact on their baby! Let’s dig deep and explore some quick tips to ease all the new moms of all their diet-related queries! For a more detailed explanation, click here

  1. Hydrate yourself. But don’t drink excessively, as this could deplete your milk supply.
  2. Eat a wide variety of foods as close to their natural state as possible-raw vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains.
  3. Mothers are advised to include fibre rich food in their diet and eat light food that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. This is so they avoid gut-related problems.
  4. Have a diverse diet, including small amounts of everything. This can help cover all nutritional needs and reduce the risk of allergies in your baby.
  5. Drink beverages such as coffee, caffeinated tea, and herbal tea in moderation.
  6. Limit your saturated fat intake. If you eat a lot of saturated fat then the trans-fats will enter your milk which causes various diseases. 
  7. Nursing moms who are worried about their supply of breast milk may want to stay away from certain foods – especially specific herbs and spices as they may have a negative effect on milk supply.
  8. Fenugreek (methi), sesame (til), fennel (saunf), cumin (jeera), and poppy seeds(khus khus) are several seeds to include in your diet. They increase milk production.
  9. Don’t obsess over losing weight right after delivery. Restricting your food and calorie intake will reduce the amount of milk you produce and deprive you and your baby of essential nutrients.
  10. Alcohol consumption should be avoided specifically during the first initial months as it readily enters your bloodstream and thereafter in breast milk.

5 Breastfeeding Tips For New Mothers

Breastfeeding is hard work, both the mother and baby can benefit from breastfeeding, but it does not come easy. Here is expert advice on breastfeeding, especially for new mothers. 

1.The correct latch will provide a painless breastfeeding experience

Breastfeeding is never painful. It is your body’s way to tell you that something is not right. Correcting your latch is the most effective way to ease the pain, as a shallow latch is the most common reason for painful breastfeeding in the beginning.

2. Holding the baby right is the first step to getting a deeper latch 

Holding the baby correctly is the first step to get a deep latch. If the baby has the right access to the breast, then the latch is deep on its own. Aim to get your baby’s lower lip away from the base of your nipple and turn lips outward like a fish. Your baby should lead into the breast with the chin first and then latch onto your breast. The baby’s tongue should be extended, and the breast should fill his mouth.

3. Co-sleeping can help the mommy and baby sleep better

Once you are confident with breastfeeding, then lying down makes breastfeeding at night very easy. When you are sleeping with your baby, both the mother and the baby sleep better. There is longevity in your breastfeeding journey. Also, a baby who is close to the mother is proven to be more emotionally stable as a human being.

4. It’s advisable to continue breastfeeding even if you have mastitis 

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can be caused by obstruction, infection or allergy. Mastitis is most common in the first 2-3 weeks but can occur at any stage of lactation. Mastitis may come on abruptly and usually affects only one breast. Do not decrease or stop nursing when you have a plugged duct or mastitis, as this increases the risk of complications. Nurse the child frequently and make sure the breasts are emptied thoroughly. If the baby is not feeding, the mother should pump the milk.

5. Avoid introducing pacifiers and feeding bottles for the first 40 days

Any artificial nipple should be avoided till breastfeeding is not established as it can cause nipple confusion. Nipple confusion is when a breastfeeding baby is having trouble latching and breastfeeding effectively after being fed with a bottle. For the first 40 days, at least the baby should not be offered a pacifier or feeding bottle until medically advised.

How To Take Care Of Your Nipples When Breastfeeding

When a baby is learning to nurse, latching on to the breast can take more time and effort. The nipple can become irritated and sensitized as a consequence of the friction. The nipple can also dry out, resulting in broken skin and bleeding at times. Check out this link to learn more about nipple care. Here are a few tips to care for your nipples. 

  1. Even at night, wear a supportive bra. Make sure it’s comfortable and not too tight. Nursing bras make feeding a task easier.
  2. Avoid tight clothing and underwire bras, which can clog milk ducts and raise the risk of infection in the breasts.
  3. Nursing pads should be changed if they become damp, dirty, or sullied.
  4. Shower at least once a day to stay away from skin infections. On the nipples, only use clear water. Avoid using soaps as it strips off the natural lubricant created by the glands surrounding your nipples, causing them to dry out and crack.
  5. Keep your breasts moisturized. There are creams in the market that are specially formulated to be used on the breast while nursing, they are safe and can be used with the right prescription.

Extending Breastfeeding Is Healthy & Normal

While some may raise an eyebrow, it is common to breastfeed your baby even after 12 months, in some families. The World Health Organization (WHO) takes it a step further by recommending that babies be breastfed for 2 years or more, as long as all their nutritional needs are being met. Extended breastfeeding is a healthy and reasonable option for mothers and children who aren’t ready to wean. Learn more about extended breastfeeding here

Normally, it is crucial to breastfeed your baby till 6 months of age. The best way to stop breastfeeding is to wean off slowly, so it doesn’t hurt the baby and the mother. You may skip a few sessions of feeding in between, and reduce breastfeeding sessions slowly. Need more tips to help you stop breastfeeding? Click here

Pumped Breast Milk Is Completely Safe & Can Be Stored

Pumped milk is completely safe for the baby. Pumping is extremely helpful in case the baby is premature or cannot latch properly. Moms can use a breast pump to express milk if they plan to resume working.

Here are some tips: 

  1. Store the expressed breastmilk in a clean airtight glass container or a special breastmilk storage bag. 
  2. The duration of storage depends on the temperature at which you are storing it.
  • At room temperature (19 – 26 degrees Celsius): Less than six hours, it is better to use it within four hours
  • In the fridge (< 4 degrees Celsius): 3 to 4 days. Keep it at the back of the fridge where the temperature is the coolest
  • In the freezer (-15 degrees Celsius): Up to two weeks 
  • In a deep freezer (-20 degrees Celsius): Up to 6 months or a year

Being a mommy is not easy and right from the time you convey the good news that you’re pregnant, everyone around you seems to have advice for your pregnancy. And if that ends, myths and old wives tales scare you. This can leave a mommy-to-be or a new mommy very confused and often, stuck with misinformation. So here are a few myths bunked on breastfeeding. And always remember to consult with your doctor before anything. 

Stay Safe & Enjoy This Beautiful Journey! 

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