Breastfeeding is, by all means, the best way to nourish a baby from the day he’s born till he’s six months old minimum. According to the World Health Organization, they believe it’s a necessity for mothers to try to feed their babies until they’re two.
Breast milk contains live cells. The composition keeps on changing with each feed.
Concerning the breastfeeding benefits for the mother, they include:
- Breastfeeding stimulates uterine contractions and prevents the mum from heavy bleeding after delivery.
- Breastfeeding helps the mother lose weight and get her body back in its pre-pregnancy shape.
- Breastfeeding stimulates the production of Prolactin that helps the mother feel calm and relaxed.
- Breastfeeding plays a role in lowering a mother’s risk of breast cancer or uterine cancer.
As for breastfeeding benefits for the baby, they include:
- Breastfeeding helps to strengthen the baby’s immunity and ability to fight infections.
- Breastfeeding lowers the baby’s risk of many health issues related to colic, gas, diarrhea and constipation.
- Breastfeeding lowers the baby’s risk of ear infections, diabetes and other illnesses.
- Breastfeeding reduces the baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
To begin with, a mother should nurse her baby at will, i.e. whenever he feels hungry, which means between 8 and 12 times per 24 hours. And in order for her to succeed, she must start feeding her baby within a few hours of birth, following these important guidelines:
- Before nursing, wash your hands thoroughly with lukewarm water and soap.
- Allow your baby to nurse as long as he wants on each side, provided that you switch between breasts at the beginning of each session.
- Hold your baby so that his head is in a straight position under your chin. Make sure you support his neck and shoulders with one hand and his thighs with the other hand.
- Once your baby finds your nipple, check if he’s latched on properly, if his mouth is wide open, if the areola of your nipple is less visible on the downside than the upper side, and if his chin is touching your breast and his down lip is heading down.
- After you make sure your baby is latching on correctly, slightly tilt his head back so he would be able to easily suck and swallow your milk.
At the end of the feeding session that may take between 10 to 20 minutes on each side, a mother should check for indicators as to whether the baby has got the nutrition he needs or not. Let’s take a look at some of these indicators: baby feeling satisfied and full after each breastfeeding session, baby wetting a minimum of 6 diapers in a period of 24 hours, baby gaining normal weight and producing a soft yellow stool.
And since breastfeeding burns lots of calories, it is important for a mother to take good care of her daily diet and try to enhance it with extra 500 calories from healthy nutritional options, protein, calcium, Omega 3 and Iron sources, in addition to the different types of vitamins deemed necessary for her health and her baby’s while avoiding food and beverages full of empty calories and sugar, alcohol, caffeine sources, highly contaminated fishes, dairy products and other food allergens, like eggs, milk, peanut, soy, wheat, etc.