The WHO recommends every baby be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, after which you introduce them, gradually, to regular food, but also continue to breastfeed for two years (or more). Not only is this important for optimum nutrition (formula has all the nutrients but lacks the antibodies found in breast-milk) for your baby, studies also suggest that moms who breastfeed are at a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, and breast and uterine cancers.
But for many women, initiating breastfeeding can be a challenge immediately after the exhaustion of childbirth. It’s easy to think of it as the most natural thing in the world (all mammal species breastfeed, after all), but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Here’s all you need to know according to the lactation consultant in Kolkata, before you meet your baby and put them to the breast.
You may start ‘leaking’ milk even before the baby is born. This yellowish ‘first milk’ or colostrum is the first vaccine and is crucial for the baby. In case the baby is premature and, in the incubator, it can be pumped and fed to the baby. The size of each fat globule in colostrum is almost 12 times higher than that in formula milk.
Babies need fats and proteins at birth, which comes out in small quantities in colostrum. It also lines and strengthens the gut bacteria to enhance the infant’s digestive system. According to a 2017 University of California—Los Angeles study, 30% of the beneficial bacteria in the baby’s digestive tract comes from breast-milk and 10% from the skin on Mommy’s breast.
Don’t stress about the quantity of the milk or colostrum within the first few days. Lactogenesis begins post the first trimester of pregnancy. This means that the mother’s body is ready to feed the baby as soon as it registers that the amniotic sac is ruptured, baby delivered, and placenta removed. The baby only needs 15ml of colostrum in the first 24 hours. By day 4, the milk usually comes in and mothers make 300 - 400ml if the baby has been with them and continuously feeding.
Latching is the technique of holding onto a mouthful of breast, which would include the nipple and the areola. Many a times, mothers are unable to understand whether the baby is sucking with a good latch. An incorrect latch leads to sore nipples, improper let down and milk transfer, lower milk supply, fussy baby, and an extremely fatigued mother who may want to give up on nursing.
The mother and baby need to be close for optimal milk production. The breast-crawl should be initiated at birth (or within the first hour of life, in case of a C-section or complication) and then skin-to-skin care can be practiced. As the baby is skin-to-skin with the mother, they will learn to suckle as per their need.
Mothers only need to watch their own digestive systems and health when eating postpartum. If the mother is unwell or facing indigestion from the foods she has eaten, she may experience a change in her milk supply as a consequence. However, the exact taste and smell of the food does not transfer to the breast milk. Also, drinking more milk will not lead to more lactation.
A lot of new moms complain of pain in their breasts, from breastfeeding. But fact is, breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt. If it does, chances are your latch isn’t right. And if your nipples crack, that could also be because of a poor latch and/or dryness. If, at any stage, you’re uncomfortable while feeding your baby, you can consult your lactation consultant in Kolkata.
You and baby are both new at this thing, so don’t be hard on yourself. In the first week, the baby could be nursing even 20 times a day. After the first week, we see a pattern emerging. Anywhere between 8-12 feeds a day, with each lasting at least 15-20 minutes, is normal to get adequate milk removal and transfer from the breast. Breast-milk production follows a demand and supply principle—the more your baby feeds, the more milk you’ll produce.
Babies can cry because they are overstimulated, sleepy, wet, need to be held, hungry, under-stimulated or colicky. A baby could just want to sleep post feeding and could be crying, or needs to be burped; at other times, they are unable to manage the flow of milk. The baby could also be howling if he or she is being overfed because the mother wants to keep baby at the breast.
Most commonly, babies want to be on their mothers all the time because that is their secure habitat. So, whenever a mother thinks a feed is over and puts the baby away from her body, babies tend to wake up and cry. If your lactation consultant is okay with the number of wet and soiled diapers, the baby is getting enough to eat and there is absolutely no need to give the baby a formula top-feed.
The breasts have fatty tissues and functional tissues. The fatty tissues give the breast its size and appearance but have absolutely no correlation to the functional tissues involved in milk production. You may have an A-cup size, but can still have a perfect milk supply.
Daddies can actually learn the technique of latching the baby onto the breast. Most new mothers are fatigued and sitting up every few hours, day and night, can really take a toll on their bodies. Every once in a while, as Mommy rests in a side-lying position, Daddy can help latch the baby onto the breast and monitor a safe position while feeding.
On a psychological and emotional level, it helps them develop empathy, in the postpartum situation, too. During the first few weeks of lactation, it is common to experience baby blues, and for the mother to feel weepy and irritable. A considerate partner can ensure that postpartum blues do not turn into postpartum depression!
Follow Vidhi Beri and learn more about her maternity wellness programme and more. Vidhi Beri is CAPPA certified Lactation Educator who provides specialized training for pregnant mothers as well as counselling for new mothers in the different aspects of Lactation. To book appointments visit her website- http://www.vidhiberi.com/contact