For new mothers who have just given birth to newborn babies, the decision to start breastfeeding is usually a personal matter. However, this is a decision that most of the time is very likely to draw strong emotions and opinions from your spouse or other family members as well as close friends alike. Even though breastfeeding may seem to be easy and simple to some people, this is not usually the case especially for new mothers. Soon after the mother starts to nurse her baby, unexpected problems and challenges may arise and put pressure on her to give up breastfeeding even before it’s the right time to do so. Nowadays the discussion about breastfeeding has not only become a very large and broad subject, but also a seriously debated topic that it now requires the involvement of health professionals, doctors, organizations and even the government in order to help educate the society on the benefits and importance of breastfeeding exclusively. These organizations and health professionals also offer advice and the required support to help nursing mothers deal with the common problems and challenges that they usually face when nursing their newborn babies. However, you and your little baby are unique with different needs and that’s why it’s completely up to you as a mother to decide whether you want to breastfeed your baby or not. With this in mind, we’ve created this definitive guide in an attempt to fully cover every topic related to breastfeeding all under a single guide.
Main Contents In This Guide
1.The importance and benefits of breastfeeding
Soon after giving birth, any parent must make the very important decision on how and what to feed the newborn baby. Parents either have the option to choose between baby formula or breastmilk. If a parent chooses to start breastfeeding immediately the baby is born, she is making a very healthy investment in the health and well being of the baby both now and in the future. Breastfeeding comes with so many benefits not just for the baby, but also for the parent and society at large.
How does colostrum help your baby?
The very first thick milk that mothers make during pregnancy and soon after giving birth is called colostrum (also known as liquid gold thanks to its deep yellow color). This milk is very rich in healthy nutrients and also includes disease fighting antibodies that will go a long way in protecting your infant from diseases later on in life. In addition, colostrum also helps your baby’s digestive system to grow and function properly. However, your little baby will only be able to get a small amount of this colostrum during each breastfeeding session because your baby’s stomach is still tiny and can only hold a small amount of milk.
However, this colostrum usually changes into mature milk after three to five days of giving birth and even though it now looks thinner than the original colostrum, it still consists of all the nutrients, antibodies and just the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and water to help with the healthy growth and development of your young baby.
Health benefits of breastfeeding to the baby
As mentioned above, a mother’s milk contains cells, hormones and antibodies that protect babies from diseases when they’re still young and even in later life. In fact, research has shown that babies who are constantly breastfed when young develop strong immunity to certain types of diseases and illnesses including; leukemia, childhood obesity, diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory infections, asthma, ear infections, eczema, type 2 diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and necrotizing enterocolitis ( a disease that commonly affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term babies).
Health benefits of breastfeeding to mothers
Breastfeeding usually helps to release a hormone called oxytocin which helps a mother’s uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and it may also reduce uterine bleeding immediately after giving birth. In addition to this, breastfeeding also lowers the mother’s risk to developing certain diseases such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and even osteoporosis. And even though experts are still researching to determine whether there’s a relation between breastfeeding and weight-loss, most of the mother’s who constantly breastfeed their babies say that it has really helped them in getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.
Benefits of breastfeeding to the society
Did you know that the whole society at large also benefits when mothers breastfeed? Let’s look at how breastfeeding helps the society.
Breastfeeding saves the environment – did you know that the plastic cans and bottles used to store baby formula create additional plastic waste which as a result leads to more environmental degradation? A mother’s breastmilk on the other hand is a fully renewable source that comes readily warmed and packaged for the baby to consume anytime, anywhere.
Breastfeeding helps the economy save lots of money – did you know that the United States economy alone would be capable of saving nearly $2.2 billion annually if all the mothers in the country chose to breastfeed their young babies for the first six months? These cost savings would be realized because breastfed babies would fall sick very less often and this means fewer hospitalizations and less money spent on sick care visits and medical prescriptions.
Breastfeeding makes the workforce to be more productive – babies who aren’t breastfed regularly tend to fall sick more often and if the mother is working full-time, she will need to skip work in order to tend to the sick baby. On the contrary, mothers who breastfeed their babies regularly tend to have more healthy babies who are less prone to sicknesses and this means the mother won’t miss work every now and then. This also helps to reduce the medical costs of the employer.
Breastfeeding is a life saver – research has shown that approximately 1000 infant deaths can be prevented if more than ninety percent of mothers chose to breastfeed continuously for the first six months after giving birth.
Is vitamin D needed by breastfeeding babies?
As we are all aware, vitamin D is vital if your baby is to develop strong bones and thus protecting them from developing rickets. In fact, all infants should get at least 400 International Units of vitamin D daily. We also know that sunlight is a major source of vitamin D but it’s still difficult to measure the exact amount of sunlight your baby is getting on a daily basis and also long periods of sun exposure can be harmful to your baby’s delicate skin. However, if you feel that your baby is not getting enough vitamin D from the food he/she is eating, you can consult with your doctor to know whether you need to buy your baby vitamin D supplements of about 400 IU daily. This is especially important the moment your baby starts weaning.
What are the advantages of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding?
Breastfeeding is also better than formula feeding in a number of ways. Below we’ve discussed the advantages breastfeeding has over formula-feeding.
Breastmilk is easier for the baby to digest – since organic baby formula is made from cow’s milk, it will take the baby’s stomach more time to adjust and digest it as compared to breastmilk. This is true especially for most premature babies.
Formula feeding is more expensive – when compared to breastfeeding, formula feeding is more expensive since you’re spending money to buy it. Breastmilk on the other hand is freely available and far more healthy and nutritious thus boosting your baby’s immunity against diseases and this means less money spent on your baby’s health.
Breastfeeding develops a strong and close bonding between the mother and baby – young infants need to feel loved, secure and comforted from the moment they are born. The close and physical contact created during breastfeeding makes the baby feel more loved and comforted while the skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby also boosts the production of oxytocin, a hormone that boosts the flow of breastmilk.
Breastfeeding saves time and makes life easier – once you find a suitable routine for both you and your baby, you’ll notice how breastfeeding saves more time and makes life easier when compared to formula feeding. With formula feeding, you have to spend time going to the store to buy it, come back home to measure and mix the formula to the right proportions. And if your baby needs to feed in the middle of the night, there’s the hassle of having to warm the bottles before giving it to the baby. But with breastfeeding, the milk is ready for the baby to feed on anytime anywhere in an instant so you can satisfy your baby’s hunger immediately.
Breastfeeding helps in emergency situations – when natural disasters like earthquakes happen, most of the amenities like clean water supply and electricity are usually interfered with and this means people lack access to clean drinking water and electricity to power and operate household appliances. In such situations, breastfeeding can really save the life of your little baby. First, because breastmilk contains water, it can help protect a thirsty baby from drinking unclean water. Secondly, a mother’s milk is always readily available and therefore it doesn’t require additional supplies. Last and more importantly, a mother’s breastmilk is always at the perfect temperature for the baby to consume and this helps to prevent the body temperature of your baby from dropping too low.
2.Learning How To Breastfeed
Preparing for breastfeeding before giving birth
There are many things a mother can do to prepare herself for effective and efficient breastfeeding even before the baby is born. Below we’ve listed the things you can do as a mother to get ready for breastfeeding prior to the baby’s birth.
• Take up a breastfeeding class to ensure you’re on the right track to successful breastfeeding. These classes will also offer you the opportunity to ask any pressing questions you might have about breastfeeding so as to prepare yourself effectively in advance.
• You can consult with your doctor to give you a lactation consultant who will offer you all the support you require with respect to breastfeeding even after the baby is born. This should be done before birth to ensure you already have a good relationship with your lactation consultant.
• Getting good prenatal care can help to prevent early births or delivery since babies who are born prematurely usually have more issues when it comes to breastfeeding.
• If you’re going to spend some time in the hospital after giving birth, it’s important to inform your doctor about your breastfeeding plans so that he can organize a staff and necessary support that’ll ensure you have a successful breastfeeding routine. If you give birth in baby friendly hospitals and birth centers, then you can be rest assured of having the best environment for successful breastfeeding.
• If you’ve undergone any breast surgery or have any injuries in the recent past and you’re taking some medications or food supplements in order to help restore your health back to normal, then it would be advisable to consult with your doctor about the medications that have no effect on breastfeeding and can therefore allow you to continue breastfeeding without causing any problems to the baby.
• You can also tell your doctor that you would like to breastfeed just immediately after the baby is born. This is because the first sucking instinct is very effective within the first hours of the baby’s birth.
• You can also talk to close family members and friends on how they can help you on your journey to successful breastfeeding. They can do this by helping you with chores around the house, being kind and encouraging you to continue breastfeeding exclusively, making sure you’re eating well balanced diet, listening to any concerns you might have about breastfeeding, taking care of the other playful toddlers in the house and showing your newborn baby all the love it needs either through cuddling or playing.
How to get off to a great breastfeeding after birth
Immediately after giving birth, you can breastfeed as soon as possible, try to cuddle with the baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth so as to create the physical bonding as quickly as possible. You can also tell the staff not to offer your baby any formula or sugar water unless the doctor says it’s necessary, you can also ask for some help from an IBCLC and of course ask if you can stay with the baby in the hospital so you can breastfeed more frequently. All the above steps can go a long way in ensuring you have a great start to successful breastfeeding just after giving birth.
How to get your baby to “latch on” properly while breastfeeding
For newborn babies, it usually requires some practice before they learn how to latch properly on your breast and it can even turn out to be a bit frustrating for both you and your newborn baby. The best technique is allowing your baby to follow his/her instincts to suck. This is called baby-led breastfeeding or biological nurturing. If you allow the baby to learn the process of searching for the breast him/herself, it will really help a lot in taking some of the pressure off of you while still letting the baby to keep calm and relaxed when breastfeeding. When you feel your baby is ready to start breastfeeding, the following steps below can help your baby to latch on to your breast to start sucking.
• The first step is to create a calm environment by reclining on a smooth, comfortable area such as a pillow. This will help you to stay calm and relaxed.
• Second, you need to hold your baby very close skin-to-skin against your bare chest and ensure the baby is wearing a diaper only. Do this for some time without any thoughts of breastfeeding.
• Third, let your baby lead. Usually when the baby is hungry, he/she will bob his/her head against your chest while trying to make some eye contact and squirming around. If the baby isn’t hungry, he/she will usually stay curled up against your bare chest.
• Next, support your baby’s head and shoulders as he/she is searching for your breast but don’t try to force him/her to latch on.
• Finally, you should let your breast to hang naturally so that when the baby’s chin hits your breast, the firm pressure from your hanging breast enables her to open her mouth wide so as to reach up and over the nipple.
But even with the baby-led latch, your baby might still have some difficulty getting a good latch-on. In such a case, you can try the following tips: First, tickle your baby’s lips using your nipple so as to encourage her to open her mouth wide. Secondly, bring your baby very close such that the baby’s chin and lower jaw moves into your breast. Then finally, watch your baby’s lower lip and try to aim it as far from your nipple’s base as possible to enable the baby take a large mouthful of your breast.
Signs of a proper latch while breastfeeding
If you want to know whether your baby has got a good latch while you’re breastfeeding, then the following signs are a good indication of a proper latch.
• The baby’s tongue should be cupped under your breast so that you can’t see your baby’s tongue.
• You should be able to hear or even see your baby swallowing.
• The baby shouldn’t have to turn his/her head while sucking.
• The areola should be very less visible or not visible at all. However, this will depend on the size of your baby’s mouth and also the size of your areola (dark skin surrounding the nipple)
• Your baby’s chin should be touching your breast
• Your baby’s mouth should be mouthful of your breast
• The lips of your baby should turn outwards and not inwards
• If you see the ears of your baby wiggling slightly then that’s a sign of a good latch
• Finally, the latch shouldn’t pinch or hurt and should thus feel comfortable to you.
Common latch problems when breastfeeding
Below we’ve listed the most common latch problems while breastfeeding and the solutions.
Frustration – in some cases, both the mother and her baby might become frustrated with the whole breastfeeding process. If this is the case, you can decide to take a short break but continue holding the baby in an upright position. Try to maintain the very close skin-to-skin contact with your baby and then comfort your baby with a song or by talking gently to her. Afterwards, you can try to continue breastfeeding again.
Your baby gets a weak suck – if you feel your baby is not getting enough milk while sucking, you can simply break the suction gently by placing your clean figure in the corner of the baby’s mouth. You can then try to get the baby to latch on again. Usually a weak suck is caused by the baby not getting a deep enough latch so as to effortlessly suck milk from the breast.
Tongue-tied babies – these are babies who have a short lingual frenulum (this is the piece of tissue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth). Because of this, the baby might find it hard to breastfeed since they might be unable to extend the tongue over their lower gum line in order to properly cup the breast while breastfeeding. A good solution is to consult with your doctor to hear what solutions he might propose for your baby.
The mother feels pain – a comfortable and proper latch should enable your baby to suck on both the nipple and the areola. If your baby is only sucking on the nipple and not the areola, then this might lead to the mother feeling some pain. To solve this issue, you can first try to break the suction and then try to latch the baby again. If you want to know whether your baby is latching on both your nipple and areola, check the shape of your nipple when it comes out of the baby’s mouth. If it’s the same shape as it was before breastfeeding, then your baby had achieved a good latch. However, if the nipple is flat or compressed, then that’s a sign of poor latch.
How long and often should you breastfeed?
To be honest, there’s no set time for breastfeeding because it depends on whether the baby is hungry and willing to feed. You can’t limit the timing on how long your baby should breastfeed because the baby will usually let you know when they are full and don’t want to continue breastfeeding. It also depends on the routine of the mother on a day to day basis. As for the frequency, you can breastfeed the baby at least 8 to 12 times a day if you want to make and produce plenty of milk. In the first few days after the baby is born, the baby should be breastfed every one to two hours during the day and for a few times throughout the night.
Best positions for breastfeeding
Mothers have their own preferred positions for a comfortable breastfeeding session. If they need additional support and comfort, mothers usually place pillows under their elbows, arms or neck just for some more support. Discussed below are some of the most common breastfeeding positions used by almost every mother while they are feeding their babies.
Cradle position – in this position mothers usually rest the side of the baby’s head in the crook of their elbow with the baby’s body facing the mother. Then they use their other free arm to support the baby’s head and neck.
Football position – in this position, you hold the baby at your side while the baby is lying on his back and with his head at your nipples position. You then support the head of your baby by placing the palm of your hand at the base of your baby’s head. This is one of the preferred positions for mothers who have had c-sections and have large breasts with inverted nipples and a strong let-down reflex.
Transitional position – in this position you hold the baby along the opposite area from the breast which you’re using to breastfeed the baby. You then place the palm of your hand at the base of your baby’s neck so as to support his/her head. This position is preferred for babies who usually have a weak suck since it gives the baby the required head support to help the baby to stay latched.
Side-lying position – this position is good because it enables the mother to rest while breastfeeding the baby. You simply lie on your side and hold the baby while facing you. It’s also a good position for mothers recovering from c-sections.
Signs that indicate your baby is getting enough breastmilk
The following signs are a strong indication that your baby is getting enough breastmilk. First, the color of your baby’s urine should be pale yellow and clear enough. The urine should not be deep yellow or orange in color. Secondly, if your baby gets enough bowel movements, then that’s also a sign of enough breastmilk. Thirdly, your baby should look satisfied after breastfeeding. Next, if you notice the baby is switching between short sleep periods and wakeful alert periods, then that also means he/she is drinking enough milk while breastfeeding. Sometimes when the baby sucks too much milk from your breast, the breast may feel softer after the feeding session is over. It’s also important to note that babies usually lose some small amount of weight in the first few days after being born and this may not necessarily mean that the baby is getting insufficient breastmilk. The only way to know the reason behind your baby’s lose of weight is to visit your doctor for a checkup within the first 3 to 5 days after birth and then later on when the baby gets to 2 or 3 weeks old.
How long should you breastfeed your baby?
Many medical authorities including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months after giving birth without substituting with any formula, water or juice. In addition to this, AAP also encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding even after the baby is one year old and for as long as both the mother and baby would like. Mothers are advised not to force the baby to stop breastfeeding (weaning) but should instead allow the baby to lead the process naturally. Other factors that may cause the parent to start weaning include: the need to return back to work, the health of both you and your baby and when the mother feels that it’s definitely the right time to stop breastfeeding.
When not to breastfeed
In many cases, mothers can continue breastfeeding even when either she or the baby is sick. However, if the mother is sick with any flu (including the H1N1 FLU) she shouldn’t come close to or in close contact with the baby to avoid infecting the baby. If the mother is taking some medications especially those that deal with anxiety and migraine, the medicine might be passed to the baby through the mother’s breastmilk and this is dangerous. Also if the mother has specific illnesses such as active tuberculosis or HIV or even undergoing radiation therapy, then in such situations the mother is highly advised not to breastfeed since it may harm the baby as well. If you want to be certain you won’t infect or harm your baby through the medications you’re taking, then it’s wise to consult with your doctor first before breastfeeding. There are certain medications that mothers take during pregnancy and might also be safe even when the parent is breastfeeding. In addition to this, you should also talk to your doctor immediately you notice your baby is reacting negatively to your breastmilk by crying excessively, diarrhea or sleepiness.
Mothers need to understand that their breasts make and produce milk in response to how long the baby suckles. In short, the more you breastfeed your baby the more milk your breasts will make and produce. This is very important because it will help mothers understand the dos and don’ts of the breastfeeding process.
How breastmilk is made
When mothers are pregnant, their breasts usually tend to become fuller and tender; a good sign indicating that the alveoli cells are preparing to make and produce milk. The alveoli cells are responsible for making milk and they do this in response to the hormone prolactin. When the baby is suckling or breastfeeding, prolactin usually rises and as a result causes the alveoli cells to start secreting more milk. Also when the baby is suckling, another hormone called oxytocin also rises to stimulate small muscles in the breast to contract so as to help move the milk through the ducts. This movement of the breastmilk through the ducts is what is commonly referred to as “let-down reflex”. When a baby starts to breastfeed, the nerves in the mother’s breasts send signals that cause the release of milk into the milk ducts. Let-down either happens within seconds to several minutes just after the baby starts to nurse or a few times during the breastfeeding session. But did you know that let-down doesn’t only happen when your baby is nursing? There are other factors that may stimulate or trigger the let-down reflex even when the baby isn’t feeding. For example, the sound of a baby crying or the deep engulfing thoughts about your baby is enough to stimulate a let-down reflex. Also factors such as stress, anxiety, excessive use of caffeine, alcohol, embarrassment, smoking, pain, cold, certain medications and breast surgery may negatively affect or interfere with a mother’s let-down reflex.
Will you be able to make enough milk to breastfeed efficiently?
This is a common question among many mothers especially after the baby is born. Mothers who have small breasts tend to worry because they tend to relate the small size of their breasts to low amount of milk production. However, this is not the truth and mothers should know that the size of their breasts has nothing to do with the amount of milk they’ll be able to make. The most important thing to remember is that the more your baby suckles, the more milk your breasts will produce. A good way telling whether your baby is getting enough breastmilk is by looking at the number of bowel movements in a day. An increase in the baby’s weight is also a good indication that he/she is getting sufficient milk. However, if you feel your milk supply is not enough, you can talk to your lactation consultant about this issue to hear any advice he might have about boosting your milk production and supply.
Has your breastmilk supply gone down?
Usually within the first few days after giving birth, the mother might still feel that her breasts are full and tender even though she is breastfeeding her baby more frequently. However, after a few months of exclusive breastfeeding, a mother’s body usually learns to start producing just the right amount of breastmilk for the baby. It’s at this time that the breasts start to feel less full and tender when compared to the first few weeks after birth and so they start to worry that their milk supply has gone down. Another factor that may trick the mother into thinking that her milk supply has reduced is the reduced nursing time of the baby after a few months of breastfeeding. Right after the baby is born, he/she will breastfeed a lot for about 8 to 12 times within 24 hours and each breastfeeding session may last for about 15 to 20 minutes. After a few months, the baby’s nursing time may reduce to only five minutes and the feeding sessions may be further apart. That is enough to worry the mother that her milk supply has gone down.
However, those two factors are not signs of a lower milk supply. The main reason for these changes is because the baby has become very good at sucking milk from the breast and as a result the mother’s body starts to adjust in order to meet the feeding needs of the baby.
What affects the amount of breastmilk you make?
There are a few factors that may affect the amount of milk your breasts can make and produce. First, if the milk is completely sucked and removed from your breast during each breastfeeding session, then that may boost your milk production since an empty breast creates more space for even more milk to be made and produced to fill the empty space. Secondly, the frequency by which you breastfeed or pump to remove milk from your breast completely is also going to affect the amount of milk your breasts make. Lastly, the amount of milk that remains in your breasts between feeding sessions will also affect your milk production process. If more milk remains in your breasts between each feeding session, your breasts will make less milk. In most cases, one breast may make more milk than the other because that’s the one your baby prefers to feed from whenever he/she is breastfeeding.
How to increase the amount of milk your breast makes
As mentioned above the secret to making more breastmilk and thus increasing your milk supply is to always ensure you completely empty your breast each and every time you’re feeding your baby. The process of emptying your breasts should be done quickly and very often to prevent milk from building up in your breasts between the breastfeeding sessions. Below are a few tips that will make the breast emptying process far more effective.
• When you massage and compress your breasts, it boosts milk flow through the ducts and this helps to remove all the milk from your breasts.
• Usually when a baby breastfeeds, he/she may not be able to completely suck all the milk from your breasts. In such a case, you can use a breast pump device to help you pump and completely remove all the milk from your breast. This will go a long way in boosting your milk production and supply between each breastfeeding session.
• Another tip is to try to offer your baby both breasts instead of just one specific breast while he/she is feeding. Remember the more your baby sucks from both breasts the more milk both breasts will produce.
4.The Most Common Challenges Mothers Face With Breastfeeding
Sore nipples – in the first few days after the baby is born, most moms tend to get sore or painful nipples soon after they start to breastfeed the baby. There are many things mothers can do so as to prevent them from getting sore nipples. First, always ensure your baby is getting a good latch while he/she is breastfeeding because a poor latch usually leads to painful and swollen breasts. Also moms should avoid wearing bras that are too tight to prevent putting pressure on their nipples. If you normally wear nursing pads make sure to change them more often to avoid trapping in moisture. Mothers should also avoid using ointments or soaps that contain astringents on their nipples and should always consult the doctor or lactation experts before using hydrogel pads, nipple shields or even creams. If you find yourself getting very sore nipples then it’s highly advisable to seek help from your doctor since he may recommend using non-aspirin pain relievers to help reduce the soreness or pain on your nipples.
Worrying that your milk supply has gone down – even though most moms still make enough milk to breastfeed their babies, they still tend to become uncertain as to whether their milk supply has increased or decreased. However, there are factors that might make the mother think that her milk supply has gone down when it’s actually just normal. Remember that when it gets to around 6 weeks to 2 months after giving birth, a mother’s breast may start to feel less full when compared to the first few days after birth and this is very normal. Also around this particular time, the baby may start to breastfeed for less periods of time when compared to how long he/she was feeding in the first few days after birth. Those two factors are what usually trick the mother into thinking that her milk supply has gone down but that’s not the case. A good way of knowing that the baby is getting enough milk from the feeding sessions is to watch the change in your baby’s growth and the increase in body weight. Other things you can do to ensure your milk supply goes up is to breastfeed more often, ensuring the baby latches on properly while feeding, trying to offer the baby both breasts while nursing and avoid supplementing your breastmilk with baby formula especially for the first 6 months after giving birth.
Oversupply of breastmilk – in some cases a mother’s breast may feel uncomfortably full with milk and this may make the whole breastfeeding experience to become stressful both for the mother and her baby. In such situations a mother can try to hand express the breast that feels unbearably full so as to help ease some of the pressure in the breast. In addition, you can change your breast with each feeding session so that in the first session you offer the baby your left breast for no less than 2 hours then in the next session you offer him/her the other breast for more than two hours. You can also start to breastfeed your baby even before he/she becomes hungry to avoid aggressive sucking during the feeding sessions.
Strong let-down reflex – this is a common breastfeeding challenge faced by some mothers and it may happen along with the oversupply of breastmilk. A good way of reducing the strong reflex while breastfeeding is to assume the side-lying position or the football hold position to help reduce the intensity of milk ejection. You can even hold the nipple between your index and middle fingers and then compress the milk ducts lightly to help reduce the force of milk ejection. When your baby is sucking allow him/her to latch and un-latch at will. You can also unlatch your baby if he/she starts to choke or spatter while feeding and spray the excess milk on to a cloth.
Engorgement – this is when your breasts become heavier and larger because they’ve been filled completely with milk. Engorgement is something natural and a sign of good health but can also create problems for the mother. It can lead to swelling of the breast, tenderness, the breasts becoming red in color, flattening of the nipple and even low-grade fever. The best way to deal with engorgement is to prevent it even before it happens. However if engorgement happens you can try the following to solve the problem: you can massage your breasts to help ease and sooth them. You can also get into a pumping schedule so that you pump milk from the breasts using breast pump even when you’re not feeding your baby to help keep the breasts empty. Ensure you’re wearing a well-fitting bra that is not too tight. You can also use cold compresses on your breasts to help ease or relieve the pain.
Blocked ducts – when a milk duct fails to drain effectively or properly, it usually leads to the duct becoming blocked and causing a buildup of pressure behind the plug and this as a result causes the surrounding tissue to become swollen. So what are solutions to such a challenge? Well, you can try to breastfeed more frequently from the affected breast to help loosen the plug so as to allow the milk to flow freely. Try to use a warm compress on the sore area and massage your breast from behind the sore spot towards the nipple. Also avoid wearing bras that are too tight since they may constrict the milk ducts. If the problem of blocked ducts keeps coming back then the best option is to seek advice from a lactation consultant on this matter.
Mastitis (breast infection) – breast infections are usually caused by bacteria which accidentally enter the breast through a cracked nipple after nursing your baby. The common symptoms include vomiting, nausea, fever, when you touch your breasts they feel hot and look pink or red in color and a yellowish discharge from the affected breast. The remedies to dealing with breast infections are the same as those applied to dealing with blocked ducts because both have the same symptoms and is therefore difficult to distinguish between the two. The remedies include; massaging the breast, using a warm compress to apply heat on the sore area, getting extra sleep since breast infection is usually a sign of stress, and avoiding bras that are too tight to avoid constricting the milk ducts. If the above remedies don’t work within 24 hours or if the symptoms worsen then you’ll need to seek help from your doctor. More importantly, if the infection has affected both breasts or there is the presence of blood or pus in your breastmilk, then you’ll need to see your doctor immediately.
Thrush (Fungal infections) – the main signs of fungal infections include cracked or itchy nipples, deep pink and blistered nipples and getting sore nipples that last for more than a few days. Fungal infections are usually caused or brought about by use of steroids or antibiotics, chronic illnesses like anemia, diabetes or HIV, a thrush in your baby’s mouth which is passed to you during breastfeeding and a very moist environment around sore or cracked nipples. Since fungal infections tend to last several weeks before clearing up, you can follow the following tips to prevent further infections: if you use disposable nursing pads make sure to change them very often, any cloth or towel that is in contact with the yeast should be washed in very hot water of above 122 degrees Fahrenheit, wear clean bras daily, wash your baby’s hands frequently, anything that your baby puts in his/her mouth such as pacifiers, toys or bottle nipples should also be washed in very hot water, if you’re using a breast pump make sure each part that comes into contact with your breastmilk is boiled everyday and finally, ensure all members of your family are treated as soon as possible if they show any symptoms of thrush or any other types of fungal infections.
Inverted nipples – inverted nipples usually point inwards instead of the normal outward direction. Since the baby needs to latch on to both the nipple and breast, inverted nipples may not necessarily make breastfeeding a difficult task and the inverted nipples usually tend to protrude outwards with time so long as the baby continues to suck from the breasts more often. If you find your inverted nipples are making it difficult for your baby to breastfeed with ease, you can seek advice from your doctor or lactation consultant about your nipples. Additionally, you can try using a special device that’s designed to pull out inverted nipples.
Nursing strike – this is when your baby suddenly refuses to breastfeed yet he/she has been doing so for many months without giving you any problems. When your baby suddenly boycotts nursing, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that he/she is ready to wean. In most cases the baby might be sending you a massage that something’s wrong with him/her. However, a nursing strike may be caused by many factors such as ear infections which cause pain when the baby is sucking, a fungal infection in the baby’s mouth which causes mouth pain, external distractions that divert the baby’s attention to other things, a stuffy nose that makes it difficult for the baby to breathe properly while feeding, an injury on your baby’s body which causes him/her to feel pain when nursing from a specific position and a sudden change in the mother’s breastfeeding routine. One of the proposed solutions is to be patient with your baby but keep trying to breastfeed your baby and if he/she seems frustrated you can stop and try to breastfeed again later. Also make sure to give your baby all the attention he/she deserves while you’re nursing. Another tip is to sooth and comfort the baby by cuddling or gently touching her while breastfeeding. If your baby is still rejecting your breast, you can use a different method to feed your baby with breastmilk. For example, you can use a sippy cup or even a spoon to feed your baby.
5.What If Your Baby Has Health Problems?
Babies may sometimes find it hard to breastfeed comfortably especially if they have some health issues. If your baby finds it hard to breastfeed because he/she has health issues, then you can pump your milk using a breast pump and feed your baby using a cup, a spoon or even a dropper. In this topic we will list and discuss some of the most common health problems found in newborn babies and how to deal with each problem.
Colic – it is normal for young babies to cry once in a while but if the crying becomes too much such that it becomes uncomfortable for other family members to handle, then colic may be the real reason why your baby is crying abnormally. If your baby has colic he/she will usually scream or cry inconsolably, pass gas, pull up or extend his/her legs while crying. Colic usually begins when your baby is around 2 to 4 weeks old after birth and even though crying usually happens anytime, it normally gets worse early in the evenings. However, this problem usually starts to improve or disappear when your baby is around 3 or 4 months old. Even though doctors can’t tell the real reason why some babies get colic, it could sometimes signify that your baby has a health or medical problem such as hernia or some other illness. If your baby starts to show signs of colic then it’s advised to talk to your doctor about the problem. Sometimes it might be because the baby is highly sensitive or reacting negatively to what the mother is eating for example foods like chocolate, caffeine, nuts or dairy products. In some cases rocking, swaddling or even soothing the baby can help to calm them down.
Premature birth – premature births happen when the baby is born before the full gestation period of 37 weeks is realized and this usually leads to low birth weights of less than 5 ½ pounds. A Premature birth will usually create some challenges for both the mother and her baby when it comes to breastfeeding and this may force both of them to adjust to the normal nursing routine. However it has been proved that premature babies usually grow and remain healthy with the help of a mother’s breastmilk. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all babies with low birth weights have problems with breastfeeding especially if they were born after the full gestation period of 37 weeks. However such babies usually need to be kept warm with consistent skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby and they also need to be breastfed more frequently. So what can a mother do if her baby is born prematurely and finds it hard to breastfeed? Well, the mother can talk to the hospital staff about whether she can rent an electric breast pump. If the mother has an insurance plan that covers breast pumps, the plan should indicate whether she is able to afford renting an electric pump or a manual pump. The mother should then use the pump to express colostrum from her breasts while she’s still in the hospital as soon as possible. She should also stick to the normal breastfeeding routine by pumping milk around 8 to 12 times within 24 hours period. Once the baby is ready to start breastfeeding, the mother will need to provide skin-to-skin contact so as to help calm the baby and provide a great start to successful breastfeeding.
Gastro esophageal Reflux disease (GERD) – this is a condition that causes food and milk to come back up into the esophagus because of the muscle located at the opening of the stomach opening at the wrong times. Common symptoms of GERD include: choking while swallowing, severe spitting of food after feeding, projectile vomiting causing milk to shoot out of the mouth, slow weight gain, refusing to eat or breastfeed and crying as if the baby is in discomfort. However, it’s important to note that babies who are healthy might have some of the above symptoms while actually they don’t have GERD. Others may have few of the above symptoms and have severe GERD. If your baby’s symptoms become more severe such as poor weight gain, refusing to breastfeed or eat, or losing weight or frequent choking while swallowing food then it’s important you see your doctor immediately. But also keep in mind that even if your baby has GERD, it is important and easier to continue breastfeeding instead of giving him/her baby formula which is harder to digest.
Jaundice – this is a condition in which your baby’s skin and eyes appear to be yellowish in color. Excess build up of bilirubin is what causes jaundice in young babies and it usually happens when the accumulation of bilirubin becomes way more than what can be removed from the baby’s intestinal tract during the newborn period. This condition doesn’t usually harm the baby and it may clear up when your baby is 2 weeks old after birth. Some babies who breastfeed on a regular basis can also develop jaundice especially if they don’t get enough milk because the mother’s milk is yet to come in or due to challenges while feeding. But soon after coming in of the mother’s milk the jaundice will usually disappear quickly if you continue breastfeeding the baby more frequently. Another alternative is to take your baby to a doctor so that he can monitor your baby’s bilirubin level by carrying out blood tests or apply phototherapy (treatment using a special light that causes bilirubin to be broken down into a form capable of being easily removed from the body). It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is best for your baby’s health and well being even when he/she is sick and this will help in speeding up the healing process of your sick baby. The doctor will also help to ensure that the jaundice clears up quickly by making sure that the baby is eating and breastfeeding as expected.
6.Breastfeeding In Special Situations
There are some special situations where a mother might need advice on whether it would be suitable or even possible to breastfeed successfully. For example, if the mother has adopted a baby, has undergone breast surgery in the recent past, she is pregnant or given birth to twins, triplets or multiple babies, how would the mother ensure that all the babies are breastfed successfully? Below we discuss how mothers can breastfeed successfully in each of these situations.
Breastfeeding twins or multiple babies – in the beginning, the notion of breastfeeding multiple babies at once may seem a bit overwhelming for the mother. However, most moms always find it easier to breastfeed multiple babies as opposed to other feeding methods such as formula feeding. Remember that the importance of breastfeeding still applies to multiple babies and the benefits are considerably greater because most twins or multiple babies tend to be born early. The best action a mom can take is to start preparing herself for successful breastfeeding even before the twins are born. There are many ways of getting prepared: for example, the mother can take up a breastfeeding class, join support groups for mothers who have multiple babies through the hospital or a breastfeeding centre within your locality, talk to a lactation consultant who’s experienced in dealing with multiple babies before giving birth or you can also search for print resources for parents of multiple babies online. Producing enough milk is also critical soon after the multiples are born. To do this the mother can try the following tips: the mother can double pump from both breasts which can help in making more milk, the newborn twins should also be breastfed soon and frequently after being born to help the mother’s body produce more milk, in the case of twins the mother can breastfeed both babies at the same time by offering both breasts to each baby and then switching sides in the next feeding session. Switching breasts is important in keeping the production of milk high especially if one baby is not feeding the same as the other one. Another tip is to constantly take your twins to the doctor to carry out weight checks that will enable him to know whether the twins are getting enough milk from the mother’s breasts.
Can a mother breastfeed if she’s pregnant? – A breastfeeding baby may start to wean if he/she notices a change in the flavor or amount of the mother’s milk. This may happen if the mother is pregnant and she still has another baby to breastfeed. In cases where the mother has a history of preterm labor, uterine bleeding during pregnancy, pregnancy hormones that may make breastfeeding to be uncomfortable or a big belly that makes breastfeeding difficult for the other baby, then in such situations the mother’s decision to wean may be personal or influenced by the doctor’s advice. It’s also important to note that if the weaning baby is not yet 12 months old, then he/she will require additional foods or drinks. If the mother continues to breastfeed the older baby even after the new baby is born, she should first breastfeed the newborn baby to make sure he/she gets the colostrums and then later on when her milk supply goes up she can create a proper routine so as to meet the feeding needs of both babies. The mother will also need to take good care of her own health and diet by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and drinking lots of fluids since she is taking care of two babies at once and this can be stressful. The husband can also help ease the mother’s burden by taking care of the older baby while the mother is breastfeeding the younger one.
What about breastfeeding an adopted baby? – In such cases the mother will need to talk to the doctor or lactation consultant to help her decide on the best way of establishing a steady milk supply for her adopted baby. There are a few things the mother can do to ensure there’s enough milk supply for the new adopted baby. First, the mother can decide to pump after every 3 hours continuously for 2 to 3 weeks before the baby’s arrival. Second, she can decide to wait for the baby to arrive and then start breastfeeding. Another option is to use a lactation aid or supplemental nursing systems to ensure the baby gets enough nutrition and the mother’s breasts are stimulated in order to produce milk at the same time.
Can a mother breastfeed after undergoing breast surgery? – The way a breast surgery is carried out will determine whether the mother will continue to produce milk efficiently or not. If the surgery damages most of the breast tissue and/or milk ducts, then it will definitely have a negative effect on the amount of milk the mother can make or produce. Most women continue to breastfeed successfully even after undergoing a breast surgery provided the surgery was done in a safe manner without interfering with the nerves or milk ducts. In addition to this, mothers who are planning to undergo breast surgery should consult with the surgeon so that the operation is done safely to help preserve as much of the milk ducts, nerves and tissue as possible.
Can a mother use breastmilk from donor banks? – there are situations where the mother may want to breastfeed the baby but she can’t give her baby her own breastmilk because of the following reasons: – the baby has health issues, the baby was born prematurely, the baby is allergic or intolerant to formula, the mother has specific illnesses such as active tuberculosis or HIV, the mother is taking certain medication that’s dangerous for the baby and can be passed on to the baby through breastmilk, or when the mother is getting a radiation therapy. In such cases the mother may consider using a human milk bank to offer breastmilk to her baby. Breastmilk that’s dispensed from a donor bank is tested thoroughly to ensure it is safe for your baby to drink. Mothers who have an insurance plan can call their insurance company to enquire whether her insurance plan will cover the cost incurred from the donated breastmilk. If this cost is not covered by the insurance plan, she can enquire from the milk donor bank on the best way to make the payments.
7.How To Pump And Store Breastmilk Effectively
How to pump or express breastmilk
There are situations where a mother may not have the time to directly breastfeed her baby especially if the mother has a full time job which leaves very little time for the mother to tend to and care for her baby. In such a case, the mother can decide to pump breastmilk in advance and store it in the freezer so that when she comes back home in the evening, she can warm the milk and give it to her baby. It’s important for the mother to continue removing milk from her breasts so that she can continue making and producing more milk as a result. In order to maintain a safe and hygienic standard when expressing breastmilk, the mother must wash her hands with soap and water or she can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to ensure her hands are free from germs. Any parts of the breast pump that come into contact with your breastmilk must also be washed to ensure they are clean.
If the mother wants to get her milk to start flowing she can do the following:
• She can think about her baby since let-down reflex can be stimulated by sweet thoughts about your baby.
• She can gently massage her breasts or rub her nipples in a smooth, soothing way.
• Applying a warm moist compress on the breasts can also cause milk to start flowing in the breasts.
• Another tip is to quietly sit down in a relaxed position and visualizing the flow down of milk from your breasts.
Ways of expressing milk from your breasts
Hand expression – this involves using your hands to massage and compress your breasts to help remove milk from your breasts. There’s no cost involved in using hand expression but this technique usually requires some practice, skill and even coordination. If you’re looking for a technique that will enable you to express milk when you’re always close to your baby, then hand expression is the one to stick with. The more you practice using this technique, the easier it will become and you can even find yourself expressing milk just as quickly as using a pump.
Using a manual pump – this usually involves the use of hands and wrist to operate a hand-held device so as to help express milk from the mother’s breasts. Just like hand expression, manual pumping also requires practice and coordination when expressing milk from your breasts. This method of expressing milk can be useful in situations where the mother is away from the baby once in a while. However, there’s some cost involved with using a manual pump since most of these devices usually cost around $30 to $50 to purchase. In addition, the mother is putting herself at a higher risk of getting breast infection if she doesn’t maintain a high hygienic standard when using such a device.
Using electric breast pump – these devices usually operate on batteries or by being plugged into electrical outlets. Electric pumping makes milk expression much easier than using manual pump or hand expression. In addition to this, the mother usually has the option to either pump from one breast or express from both breasts simultaneously. Double electric pumps also enable mothers to express and collect more milk in much less time and this is very convenient for working moms who have little time to spend with the baby. And even though electric breast pumps are very useful and convenient, they are usually very expensive since most of them will set you back between $150 for the cheapest model to around $300 for the more expensive models.
A mother can also rent an electric breast pump either from a breastfeeding organization or from a lactation consultant in a hospital within her locality. According to the Affordable Care Act, a health insurance plan is supposed to cover the cost of a breast pump and your plan may include proper guidance on how long the cost coverage of a rented pump will last, whether they will provide you with the pump before or after the baby is born and whether you can rent an electric pump or a manual pump.
How to store your breastmilk
When it comes to breastmilk storage, devices such as hard BPA-free plastic bottles which also have tight-fitting lids usually work very well. Devices made for freezing breastmilk, such as milk storage bags can also be used. Mothers should avoid storing milk in disposable plastic bags or bottle liners. After you’ve expressed milk from your breasts and you want to store it, the following tips are important to consider:-
• Always refrigerate breastmilk soon after pumping. You can also freeze it in small batches of 2 to 4 ounces for future use.
• Soon after putting the milk in the storage bag, make sure to swirl it gently to ensure the top cream part of the milk is mixed with the rest of the milk. Avoid shaking the milk as this may cause some of the valuable parts of the milk to be broken down.
• If you’re using a storage bag or container to store the milk, write the date in which you kept your milk in that particular storage bag.
• Avoid filling the storage bag up to the brim and always leave a space of about one inch between the milk and the top of the storage bag since the milk will usually expand during the freezing process.
• Wait until the milk has frozen completely so that you can completely tighten the lid or bottle cap.
• Always store the milk in the inner compartments of the freezer and not on the shelf of the freezer’s door.
When you want to feed your baby on breastmilk that’s been refrigerated before, it’s important to first warm up or even thaw the milk before giving it to your baby. You can follow the tips below to ensure you thaw or warm up the frozen milk properly:-
• If you labeled the date in which you kept all the storage bags in the freezer, then make sure to start warming up the bag that was stored for the longest time in the freezer.
• You can thaw milk storage bag by either putting it in a container with warm water, or holding it under running water that’s warm.
• Avoid putting the milk storage bag in the microwave since the waves produced may damage the milk or even produce hot spots that might burn your baby.
• Swirl the milk while still in the storage bag and check the temperature by putting some of the milk on your wrist to ensure it is not hot but comfortably warm instead.
• If you decide to thaw breastmilk that was initially frozen or refrigerated, make sure to use it within 24 hours and always avoid refreezing thawed breastmilk.
• You can also decide to serve the breastmilk when it’s cold or at room temperature after taking off the chill. Remember that breastmilk does not necessarily need to be warmed before giving your baby to drink.
The place and right period for storing fresh breastmilk
Countertop – if you’re storing breastmilk on the countertop, always ensure the milk is at room temperature. Time periods of up to 3 to 4 hours is the best but in the case of very clean expressed milk, a storage period of between 6 to 8 hours is okay. If the milk is stored in a storage bag and kept on the countertop, ensure to cover the milk storage bag or container with a cool clean towel to help keep the milk cool.
Refrigerator – breastmilk stored in the refrigerator should be kept at a temperature of around 39 degrees Fahrenheit or colder than that. Milk stored in the refrigerator is best consumed within 3 days but for very clean expressed milk it can be stored for up to 5 days before being consumed. Always keep the storage bag in the back of the refrigerator’s main compartment. Storing breastmilk in the refrigerator is the best option for those moms who work full time during the day and come back home late in the evening or at night.
Freezer – breastmilk stored in the freezer must be kept at temperatures of around zero degrees Fahrenheit or colder. In the freezer, breastmilk can be stored for as long as 3 to 6 months before being consumed. Very clean expressed milk can be kept for as long as 9 months in the freezer since the very low temperatures help to keep the milk safe. However, when the milk is finally removed from the freezer to be given to the baby, its quality might not be as high as it was before being frozen. Always store the breastmilk towards the back of the freezer as that’s the place with the most constant temperature.
Deep freezing – in the deep freezer, breastmilk is stored at temperatures of around -4 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. At these temperatures, very clean expressed milk can be stored for a full 12 months before being consumed. Keep the storage bag or container towards the back of the freezer where temperatures are constant. Even though these temperatures are safe for long periods of milk storage, the milk would have lost some of its quality when it’s finally removed from the freezer for consumption.
8.Breastfeeding in Your Day To Day Life
Most mothers enjoy breastfeeding their babies on a day to day basis. However, breastfeeding can sometimes turn out to be stressful especially when a mother is trying to juggle between her new born baby and a good breastfeeding routine at the same time. The mother should therefore know how to keep her stress levels down so as to provide a positive breastfeeding experience for both the baby and herself. This usually requires eating a well balanced diet and doing some physical exercises to help the mother get the energy she needs to be able to cope with the everyday tasks she faces and also breastfeeding her baby successfully.
Are there specific foods to avoid while breastfeeding? – The good news is that mothers don’t need a special diet while they are breastfeeding a baby and in most cases there are no foods that the mother needs to avoid while breastfeeding. The mother should only avoid foods that cause the baby to react negatively to her breastmilk and in addition, the mother should also seek help from her doctor if her baby is reacting negatively to her breastmilk.
Eating healthy while breastfeeding – it’s important for a breastfeeding mother to eat healthy to ensure she maintains a good health and gets enough nutrition to help her produce even more milk. To do this, the mother should drink a lot of fluids to help her stay dehydrated each and every time she is breastfeeding the baby. Drinks with lots of added sugars such as soft drinks or sodas should also be avoided. Even though a lot of caffeine usually causes problems to a breastfeeding baby, it’s not bad for the mother to moderate the amount of coffee she is drinking on a daily basis and drinking just one or two cups of coffee a day is fine for the baby. Some breastfeeding mothers may usually require additional supplements such as multivitamins and minerals on top of the other healthy food choices they are eating. But before taking these supplements, it’s first important for the mother to consult her doctor to know whether it’s recommended to take supplements while breastfeeding.
Is it risky to drink, smoke or do drugs while breastfeeding? – Mothers addicted to smoking are highly advised to try and quit smoking while they are breastfeeding. And even if they find it hard to quit smoking, they should still continue breastfeeding the baby because it may protect the baby from SIDS and respiratory problems. In addition to this, the mother should always smoke very far away from the baby and make sure to change her clothes to keep her baby away from the chemicals left behind by smoking. For mothers who are alcoholics, they should also avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol while breastfeeding but an occasional drink once in a while is fine. The AAP recommends you wait for at least two or more hours after drinking alcohol before breastfeeding your baby or expressing breastmilk before drinking alcohol so that you can feed your baby later on. When it comes to drugs, it’s unsafe to use illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, PCP and heroine while breastfeeding since they can create side effects such as seizures, poor feeding and vomiting in your baby.
Can my baby become allergic to my breastmilk? – Usually when a baby starts to react negatively to a mother’s milk, it’s not the breastmilk that is the problem but what the mother is eating instead. Babies usually show symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, eczema, rush, dermatitis, dry skin, fussiness, crying for long periods inconsolably, wheezing and even coughing when they are allergic or sensitive to what the mother is eating. The above symptoms indicate that the baby is allergic to what the mother is eating but not allergic to the breastmilk as most mothers tend to think. The best solution to this problem is for the mother to stop eating whatever she thinks is causing a negative reaction to the baby and possibly wait for a few months before eating that food again to see whether its effects have reduced. In addition, the mother can talk to her doctor if she notices her baby is showing any of the above symptoms.
What if you’re a vegan? – Mothers who strictly follow a vegan diet that doesn’t consist of any forms of animal proteins might be putting both her and the baby at a risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Lack of vitamin B12 in babies usually causes weak muscles, blood problems, slow motor development, vomiting, loss of appetite and extreme exhaustion. In order to make up for the lack of vitamin B12 in your vegan diet, you can start taking vitamin B12 supplements so as to help protect you and your baby from problems associated with lack of vitamin B12.
Can physical exercise affect your breastmilk? – physical exercise does not affect your breastmilk both in terms of quantity or quality of the milk produced but will instead help you stay energetic, healthy and feeling much better. However, you can follow these tips to achieve comfortable work-out sessions while breastfeeding: – First, make sure to express your breastmilk before starting the work-out sessions. Second, make sure you’re wearing a supportive bra and nursing pads in case you leak while working out. Third, drink lots of fluids or water and always talk to your doctor on how and when to start exercising after giving birth to your baby.
Can stress affect breastfeeding? – of course stress can affect you in the sense that you might end up getting sick, stomach problems, lack of sleep, headaches and even mental health conditions. However, breastfeeding can be a good way for mothers to relax and cope with stress. To help reduce stress while breastfeeding, a mother can follow the tips below:-
• Teach yourself all the important facts about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to ensure the whole nursing process is successful. This is because the first few days of breastfeeding your baby are usually the hardest but it usually gets easier with time.
• Getting enough sleep so that your body stays healthy and this also helps to avoid stress. Stress usually worsens with the lack of enough sleep.
• While breastfeeding, it’s important to find yourself a quiet, comfortable and relaxing place to make the whole breastfeeding process enjoyable for both you and the baby. In addition, you can try to bond with your baby by listening to soothing music or reading a book.
• Get as much physical exercise as possible so as to boost your mood. When you’re working-out or exercising, your body produces certain chemicals called endorphins that help to relieve stress by improving your good mood.
• If you’re stressed up, avoid drinking too much alcohol or smoking to prevent harming both you and your baby. You also need to avoid overeating when you’re stressed up.
• Family members and close friends can be really helpful in ensuring you have a stress free life especially while breastfeeding your baby. They can do this by supporting you so as to enable you achieve your breastfeeding goals in a stress-free way.
• If your stress gets worse, you can seek help from a professional or a therapist who can help you in working your way through stress by offering you tips on how to deal with problems related to or caused by stress.
Will my partner feel jealous if I breastfeed? –The best way to prevent your partner from feeling jealous is to ensure he/she is fully involved once you start breastfeeding your baby. Even before the baby is born, you can try to explain to your partner how his/her support will be needed not just for you, but also for the baby. You can also inform your partner on the importance and health benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby by getting him/her a book about breastfeeding because a partner who fully understands the importance and benefits of breastfeeding can make a big difference. In addition, you can tell your partner that breastfeeding is far more convenient and cost effective when compared to other feeding methods like formula feeding which can cost both of you money. You can also encourage your partner to join you when you’re giving birth, breastfeeding your baby or even attending a new parenting class. Such classes are available in many parenting organizations and also through the hospital in which you gave birth from. Soon after the baby is born, you can also encourage your partner to get involved by changing your baby’s nappies after a feeding, bringing the baby to you at night to be breastfed and even providing skin-to-skin contact between your partner and the baby.
Can breastfeeding interfere with my sex life? – Sometimes a mother may need to make some adjustments in order to help make sex more comfortable both for her and her partner. For example, if you experience vaginal dryness immediately after giving birth or even while breastfeeding because your estrogen levels are usually lower during these time periods. Water-based lubricants can help make sex more comfortable if you have vaginal dryness. Leaking breasts can also make the sexual experience to be uncomfortable for both you and your partner. In such a case, breastfeeding your baby before making love to your partner can really reduce the chances of your breasts leaking while making love. However, some women’s breasts tend to leak or spray milk when having an orgasm. If this is the case, she should ensure she has a cloth or towel in handy to help contain the leaks.
Do you need birth control while breastfeeding? – Yes. Birth control is something that your doctor should discuss with you even before the baby is born. Even though breastfeeding can sometimes delay the return of a normal ovulation and even interfere with your menstrual cycle, it is still not a sure way of preventing pregnancy. The best option is to discuss with your doctor about the birth control choices you can use while you’re still breastfeeding.
Do breastfeeding babies require vaccines? – Yes. The importance of vaccination to your baby’s health is something that can’t be overlooked. However, breastfeeding can also help your baby to respond much better to certain immunizations that help protect your baby from diseases or illnesses. In addition, when your baby is upset after being given a vaccine, breastfeeding him/her immediately can really help to soothe and relieve some of the pain. It’s important to strictly follow the vaccination schedule given to you by your doctor and if for whatever reasons your baby happens to miss any vaccine, check back with the doctor to ensure your baby gets back on track as quickly as possible.
Is it safe for the mother to get a vaccine while breastfeeding? – Breastfeeding usually has no effect on the vaccine and in most cases the opposite is also true i.e. vaccines are not harmful to a mother’s breastmilk. However, vaccinations for treating yellow fever and smallpox should be avoided while breastfeeding since they can be passed on to the baby through the mother’s milk. It’s important to talk to your doctor so he can shed some light on whether it’s safe to take certain vaccines while breastfeeding.
9.Breastfeeding And Returning Back To Work
For most mothers who need to go back to work while still having a baby to breastfeed at the same time, the transition process can be a bit challenging. For this reason, the mother needs to start planning ahead of time to enable her to continue enjoying breastfeeding her baby even after her maternity leave is over. There are many things a mother can do to even before the baby is born to prepare herself for successful breastfeeding when she goes back to work.
Things to do while pregnant to prepare for breastfeeding after going back to work
• You can join a support group about breastfeeding to share tips about breastfeeding while working.
• You can watch videos from mothers who give important advice on how to breastfeed successfully even after going back to work.
• Breastfeeding classes offered in the hospital from where you gave birth can also offer you important tips on how to effectively breastfeed your baby when you’re still working.
• Breastfeeding experts can also offer you the support and advice you need to ensure you find a perfect balance between breastfeeding your baby and working your full-time job without any inconveniences.
• It’s important to inform your boss about your breastfeeding plans so that both of you can agree on a suitable working schedule to ensure you continue breastfeeding while doing your job without any problems. Your boss can decide that you start working part-time or split your work between day and night shifts.
• Try to find out whether your company offers any lactation support programs for female employees. In addition, you can also ask your lactation program director, the employee human resources office, your supervisor, the director for wellness program or other female coworkers whether they know of any women who have successfully breastfed their babies even after going back to work.
• Another tip is to explore the child care options that you have by checking to know whether there’s a child care facility close to where you work. If this is the case, ask whether the facility has a special place set aside for nursing mothers so that you can be breastfeeding your baby during your lunch breaks. It’s also important to ensure this facility will be feeding your baby with your expressed milk.
• You can also encourage your boss to visit websites that provide helpful and important tips about supporting breastfeeding moms at work.
Things to do during your maternity leave to allow for successful breastfeeding after going back to work.
• Ensure to take as many weeks off as possible so that you can effectively recover from child birth and come up with a good routine for breastfeeding your baby.
• You can also practice pumping your breastmilk either by hand or through a breast pump. While you’re working, expressing milk through a breast pump can be the best solution that will enable you to effectively remove milk from your breasts. In addition, a hands-free pump can also allow you to express or pump milk while you’re working in your private office.
• You can also try giving your baby breastmilk from a bottle or a cup instead of allowing the baby to suck from your breasts directly. It’s also important to have someone else feed the baby with breastmilk from a bottle or cup so that the baby gets used to being fed from a bottle by somebody else rather than the mother. This will make things easy for the mother to return back to work without any problem.
• You can also talk to your child care provider and family members about your plans to breastfeed successfully after returning back to work. Tell them that you’ll need their support for your transition to be a successful one.
After going back to work, what can you do to help ease the transition? – To help ease the transition after returning to work, you need to continue talking to your boss about your working schedule so that he/she can know from the start what is working for you and what isn’t working for you. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most of the employers are supposed to offer enough breaks to their breastfeeding employees so that they can pump or express milk for a full year after giving birth and the employer should also provide a private place where the breastfeeding employee can comfortably and safely express her breastmilk. Another thing the mother can do is to try reconnecting with her baby by breastfeeding him/her immediately when she arrives at the child care facility to pick up the baby. This will enable both the mother and the baby to reconnect even before going back home.
How often should you express milk at work? – Even when you’re at work, you should continue expressing your milk in the normal times that you usually breastfeed the baby. This means pumping or expressing your breastmilk 8 to 12 times within 24 hours. Since expressing milk can take nearly 10 to 15 minutes – and sometimes even longer – you will need to use your regular lunch break to pump your breastmilk. In order for some mothers to create the time needed for expressing milk, they usually come to work very early before other coworkers arrive or they stay late after everybody has gone home.
Where do you store your breastmilk at work? – Most companies have refrigerators where employee food is kept or stored. Since breastmilk is food, it should be kept in the employee refrigerator or in a cooler with ice packs. If you’re working in a medical department, avoid keeping your breastmilk in the same refrigerator where other medical specimens are kept. For the purpose of safety and in order to avoid confusion, it’s important to label the milk storage bag with your name and also write on it the date in which you expressed your milk. Then place the milk storage bag or container in an insulated bag and discreetly put it in the back of the employee refrigerator together with the rest of your employee’s lunch bags.
How much breastmilk should you send with your baby during the day? – This will depend on your baby’s feeding cycle. This is because some babies tend to eat less during the day when the mother is not around and then feed more at night when the mother is around, this is known as ‘’reverse-cycling’’. If you notice that your baby is reverse-cycling, then you may not need to express much breastmilk during the day. Some babies also tend to eat normally during the day when the mother is away and then at night they feed even more. This may be caused by a craving that the baby has to being close to the mother. But even if your baby reverse-cycles or not, it’s still important to express your milk 2 or 3 times a day to ensure the caregiver is left with enough breastmilk in case the baby becomes hungry when you’re not around. Research has shown that babies aged between one and six months old drink an average of 2 to 4 ounces of breastmilk in each feeding session. However, your baby will start to drink less breastmilk as he/she gets older and as a result, your breastmilk will also start to change so as to meet your baby’s feeding needs. This means that when your baby is 9 months old, he/she will still be getting the nutrition needed – as he/she was getting when only 3 months old – from the same number of ounces.
10.Breastfeeding In Public
Even though there’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding your baby in public, most mothers still tend to feel uncomfortable whenever they find themselves in a situation where they need to breastfeed the baby while surrounded by many people such as in events, meetings or other social places. Breastfeeding in public might be a taboo in some places but that hasn’t stopped the awareness of the support that new mothers need from building up. In fact, there are laws that protect mothers who want to breastfeed in public places. However, if you still find it uncomfortable to breastfeed your baby in public, there are many things you can do to help you breastfeed your baby discreetly even in public. In addition, you need to wear your confidence and keep reminding yourself that you can still succeed in breastfeeding your baby in public. The most important thing to do is to believe in yourself and your personal choice to breastfeed your baby in crowded places.
Important tips for successful breastfeeding in public
• You can wear a nursing cover or a special breastfeeding blanket around your shoulders to hide your breast from people around you.
• You can also wear tops that can be pulled up from the waist or buttoned down so as to allow for easy and quick access to your breasts.
• Baby carriers can also enable you to breastfeed your baby discreetly especially when you’re travelling. You can use a soft structured baby carrier that provide for a hands-free way of nursing your baby and keeping the baby comforted and very close to you. Avoid using baby slings since they are risky and always check on the Consumer Product Safety Commission warnings about the use of infant slings.
• If there are any women’s lounges or dressing rooms nearby you can slip into such rooms to breastfeed your baby.
• If you’re breastfeeding your baby in a restaurant, you can face the wall instead of facing the people around you.
• Another tip is to practice breastfeeding while at home to ensure you learn how to be less revealing when you’re breastfeeding in crowded places.
• Breastfeeding the baby before leaving the house or before he/she becomes hungry can help to ensure you have enough time to reach your destination without having to feed the baby while on the road. After reaching your destination, you can look for a discreet or comfortable place from where you can breastfeed your baby.
But there are situations where a mother can get criticized because she is breastfeeding her baby in public. In such a case, you can either ignore the person who is criticizing you or you can change the conversation into something else. You can also share with the other person the importance of breastfeeding a baby and the long-term benefits associated with exclusive breastfeeding. You can help lighten up the mood by making a joke about yourself or the situation at hand. You can also ask questions to show the other person that you understand his/her point of view. If all else fails, you can show the other person that you understand how they feel by being empathetic.
With that said, it’s important to keep in mind that by breastfeeding your baby often, you are meeting both the health and developmental needs of your baby and even if you’re a stay at home mother who doesn’t have a full time job, it’s not good to stay in the house all the time since you might get bored then later on become in active and stressed up. That’s why it’s important to be travelling with your baby more often to avoid the boredom of staying at home all the time. With this in mind, you should feel free and comfortable to breastfeed your baby even when both of you are out and about. When on the road, it’s far more convenient to feed your baby directly from your breasts as opposed to feeding the baby from a bottle. This means there are fewer supplies to pack when no feeding bottles are involved plus you don’t need to worry about warming up the milk to get it to the right temperature.
Weaning refers to when a mother suddenly decides to stop nursing her baby because she feels it’s the right time to do so or when the baby finally decides to stop nursing without being forced to do so. There are some factors that can determine whether weaning is going to be a struggle or a simple process and these include the circumstances that surround the mother or how attached the baby is to breastfeeding. In this topic we discuss the most important things you need to know about weaning such as how to wean, when to start weaning and the best way to deal with issues that often put pressure on mothers to stop nursing before the right time comes.
Who is a weaned baby? – a weaned baby is one who has stopped breastfeeding from the mother and as a result gets all the required nutrition from different sources other than the mother’s breast. A baby can also wean from the bottle but the term commonly refers to when the baby stops breastfeeding from the mother’s breast. The intimate bond that was created between the mother and the baby is still strong even after the baby starts to wean even though the mother has now decided to nurture and nourish her baby in different ways rather than through breastfeeding. However, the baby might become problematic when he/she starts to wean especially if you used breastfeeding as an opportunity to comfort the baby. Because of this, the mother will need to look for other ways to comfort the baby since she no longer comforts him/her through breastfeeding. A good solution to this is to either sing a soothing song, or play with the baby to help keep him/her happy and feeling good.
When to start weaning? – Usually the mother is the best judge on when it’s the right time to start weaning. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding the baby for at least 12 months and even longer so long as the mother and her baby still want to do so. This means that the decision to wean shouldn’t be influenced by close family members, relatives or friends but should be done only when the mother feels it’s the right time to do so or by allowing the baby to lead the process naturally. Weaning can either be ‘’mother-led’’ or ‘’baby-led’’.
Mother-led weaning – this is when the mother decides to wean because she feels it’s the perfect time to do so or because she is returning back to work. However, this may not necessarily mean that the baby is ready to wean and therefore it can take a lot of time and patience before the baby finally adjusts. This means the mother should not completely wean the baby quickly but should instead do it slowly and gradually. Experts also warn that when mothers decide to abruptly withhold their breasts from the baby, it can turn out to be traumatic for the baby and could also lead to blocked ducts or breast infections for the mother.
Baby-led weaning – the best option is to let the baby lose interest in breastfeeding instead of forcing him/her to wean. The baby can decide to wean anytime especially after he/she starts to eat solid foods after around 12 months. In addition, when the baby becomes more active and doesn’t want to sit still for long periods of time then this is the time that he/she may start to show less interest in breastfeeding. A baby may also be giving you signs that he/she is ready to wean when he/she becomes fussy and impatient while being breastfed.
How do you wean? – The best way for the mother to wean is to start the weaning process slowly and gradually until she notices the baby is becoming frustrated with breastfeeding. There are a number of methods the mother can use to help start the weaning process. First, she can skip or reduce the number of feedings to see how the baby will react. She can also offer the baby a bottle or a cup of milk instead of breastfeeding the baby. When the mother starts to reduce feedings one at a time over a period of weeks, it will give the baby enough time to adjust to the change. The mother’s milk supply will also start to diminish slowly without causing breast engorgement or mastitis. Another method is to shorten the nursing time so that if the baby usually breastfeeds for 15 minutes, you limit the time to only 7 minutes and then try to follow the feeding with an unsweetened applesauce or a cup of milk. But remember that most babies who are younger than 6 months old may not be ready for solid foods because their stomach has not yet developed fully to be able to digest solids effectively. The mother can also try to postpone and distract a feeding session if she’s used to breastfeeding the baby a couple of times daily. This method usually works better if your baby is old enough to understand you. When the baby tells you that he/she wants to breastfeed, you can either distract him/her with another activity or tell him/her to wait until sleep time if he/she is used to feeding early in the evenings. To help ease the baby’s transition to a bottle, the mother can give the baby a small amount of milk in a bottle several hours after breastfeeding but she should do this before the baby becomes so hungry to the point where he/she becomes impatient and frustrated.
Will the baby get enough nutrients when weaning? – if the mother decides to wean before the baby is 12 months old, then the baby will need to continue drinking breast milk or iron-fortified formula until he/she reaches 12 months old. But it’s important to remember that even babies who are breastfed exclusively still require extra nutrients – like vitamin D – that the mother’s milk can’t provide. Finally when the baby becomes a toddler, the mother can now start to give him/her some more food varieties that will provide the required nutrients needed for growth and development.
What should the mother do when weaning becomes a struggle? – Usually when the mother is trying to wean her baby but the baby is refusing to do so then it means that the timing is still wrong. There are many things that can make the baby to still want to breastfeed more. For example if your baby is sick, then he/she would want to feed more frequently. Remember that a mother’s milk is full of nutrients and disease fighting antibodies that will help the sick baby to recover quickly. Trying to wean because you’ve returned back to work can also be a struggle since the baby is still trying to adjust to the new feeding routine. Major life changing events within your household (such as divorce or moving to a new location) can also make weaning a struggle. The best option is to try again in the following months to see whether it’ll be successful.
The main reasons why mothers wean before they are ready
We all know that weaning should be a personal decision that shouldn’t be influenced by external forces around you. However, in some cases a mother’s decision to wean her baby can be influenced by family circumstances, personal health problems and even cultural norms. Remember that words are very powerful and whatever the mother is told by people who are close to her in terms of breastfeeding and weaning can have a big impact on the mother’s decision on whether to continue nursing the baby or to wean the baby even before it’s the right time to do so. Discussed below are some of the main reasons why nursing mothers decide to wean before the right time comes.
Being resented by her husband whenever she’s breastfeeding – sometimes your husband might start to complain that he feels he’s not involved in the breastfeeding equation and there’s nothing wrong with that. The best way to deal with such complaints is to start involving your husband in the nursing process by allowing him to spend enough time snuggling the baby and also bottle-feeding the baby with your expressed breast milk. It’s also important to keep the communication channel between you and your husband open all the time and do your best to educate him on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding your baby exclusively for at least 12 months. If your husband insists on formula feeding, tell him that formula feeding is costly and takes additional time to prepare.
Feeling pain while breastfeeding – this is a common problem that most moms complain about especially in the first few weeks after giving birth. When the baby starts to breastfeed he/she may not be able to latch on the mother’s breasts properly because the baby is still learning how to nurse and this is what usually causes breast pain. The mother can also take some time before figuring out the most comfortable nursing position that will enable her to nurse the baby while relaxed. In this case, a lactation consultant can really help you in solving these problems associated with poor latch and breast pain. It’s good for the mother to persevere through the first few weeks of breastfeeding because once the baby starts to get older then he/she will start to spend less time nursing.
Feeling tied down by breastfeeding and you want your old life back – in almost all cases the normal life of the mother changes soon after giving birth. This is especially true for mothers who have a full time job or are used to being on the road every now and then. Once the baby is born, the mother will need to start spending more time at home nursing and caring for the newborn baby and since nursing is a commitment, it’s normal for the mother to start feeling trapped by her baby’s constant demands. A good way to deal with this issue is to remind yourself that you won’t be nursing your baby forever because it only takes at most 12 months before finally introducing your baby to other feeding methods. In addition, you can look at breastfeeding as a rare and special opportunity for you to break from your fast track lifestyle so as to develop a strong bond with the baby.
Working full time with no private place to express your breastmilk – the common trend of today where office designs are shifting from individual offices to large and spacious office plans means that mothers don’t have the privacy they need to nurse their babies discreetly anymore. However, the inclusion of more women in the work places has made it possible for more employers to start accommodating nursing mothers as well. A good solution to this problem is to talk to your boss or human resources manager to see whether they can create a private room within the office building to allow nursing moms to breastfeed discreetly. They can also give you permission to look for a private place out of the office building from where you can express your milk privately. You can also try expressing your milk early in the morning before going to work or later in the evenings after returning home from work.
When your best friends are no longer nursing their babies – sometimes a mother’s decision to stop nursing her baby can be highly influenced by her close friends who have young babies that they stopped nursing before the babies reached 12 months old. This can make the mother to start feeling lonely since she is the only one in a common playgroup who’s still nursing her baby. But it’s good for you as a mother to remember that good friends should help to make your nursing time easier by supporting and encouraging you instead of giving you a hard time. For the few who are trying to discourage you from nursing your baby exclusively for 12 months, you can gently remind them of the importance and health benefits that you and your baby will get from exclusive breastfeeding. It’s a matter of being a leader rather than a follower of false advice.
When close friends and family members think you’re coddling your baby by continuing to breastfeed – Most people tend to think that babies who are breastfed for more than 12 months end up becoming clingy or overly-dependent. But on the contrary, research has actually shown that a mother’s breastmilk not only boosts a baby’s immunity against diseases but it also helps to foster independence and self-confidence in the baby when he/she gets older. In addition, all toddlers tend to become clingy at some point in time and so breastfeeding can still be an excellent source of reassurance and comfort when the baby is transitioning from one phase of development to another.
12.Where To Find Help And Support With Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding a baby is not as simple as most people tend to think and in fact most nursing mothers usually find it hard or frustrating to cope up with the constant nursing needs from their little babies. Breastfeeding usually comes with its own challenges and problems which can be caused by both the mother and her nursing baby. It’s for this reason that most nursing mothers require some kind of help, coaching and support so as to be able to nurse their babies successfully. Luckily, there are a number of organizations and health professionals whose job is to clear out any bumps and obstacles that may prevent a mother from nursing her baby as is expected. Additionally, there are family members and friends who can also offer important advice, help and proper support to a nursing mother.
Health professionals who help with breastfeeding
Below are some of the health professionals that can help with breastfeeding.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) – these are nursing professionals who are certified and have the highest level of skills and knowledge in offering effective support with breastfeeding. These professionals usually provide help and support to a wide range of problems associated with breastfeeding. For these professionals to earn an IBCLC certification, they must have education and experience in either a medical or any health-related discipline. They also need to pass a challenging examination for them to get this certificate. If you’re not sure on where to find a certified lactation consultant, you can ask your doctor or midwife for the name of any IBCLC within your area.
Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) or Certified Breastfeeding Educators (CBEs) – these are professionals who not only teach but also help mothers who have any problems and questions pertaining to breastfeeding. They usually have some sort of special training about breastfeeding.
Doulas – this is someone who is professionally trained to provide both social and emotional support to birthing families during pregnancy and birth as well as at home within the first few weeks after the mother has given birth to a new baby. There are doulas that are also trained in breastfeeding and they can also help mothers who have any challenges with breastfeeding.
Mother-to-mother Breastfeeding support
Did you know that other nursing mothers can also offer helpful advice and great support by sharing tips and solutions to common breastfeeding problems? But for you to be able to get this help, you must know how to connect with the other nursing mothers and here are some of the ways to do this:
• You can visit the La Leche League International site from where you can find whether there’s a La Leche League International support group within your area.
• You can also search the internet to see whether there’s a breastfeeding center that offers help and support within your locality.
• You can also enquire from the hospital where you gave birth from whether they can suggest a support group for nursing mothers.
• You can also try to look for a peer counselor with the help of your nurse or doctor. A ‘’peer’’ refers to a counselor who has enough experience from nursing her own babies and can therefore help other mothers to breastfeed without any problems.
• You can also search for message boards, chats and breastfeeding blogs online. Nowadays social media sites have also become popular “gathering places” for mothers with newborn babies but you shouldn’t rely on resources found in social media for medical advice.[showhide type=”post” more_text=”sources…” less_text=”sources…”]Sources
American Academy of Pediatrics: “Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.”
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Breastfeeding Your Baby.”
National Women’s Health Information Center: “Benefits of Breastfeeding.”
National Women’s Health Information Center: “How Lifestyle Affects Breast Milk.”
La Leche League International: “How Do I Position My Baby to Breastfeed?”
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Breastfeeding: Hints To Help You Get Off to a Good Start.”
National Library of Medicine: “Overcoming Breastfeeding Problems.”
KidsHealth.org: “Feeding Your Newborn.”
American College of Nurse-Midwives, GotMom.org: “Breastfeeding with Confidence.”[/showhide]