Maternal Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a woman’s exclusive privilege. Special substances called hormones are responsible for these changes and breast’s preparation to produce milk. As child’s nourishment continues after birth, breastfeeding is one of the most natural things and is based primarily on woman’s instinct. However, do not hesitate to seek your Doctor’s help and guidance during the first weeks, as support and practical assistance are the key factors to success. Mothers are alone in the first days or weeks after childbirth and give up breastfeeding when experiencing even the slightest difficulty. Although breastfeeding can be a challenge, the emotional changes that occur after birth are responsible for a woman’s decision to stop breastfeeding. A clue of what breastfeeding is all about during the first weeks and knowing what to expect, can prepare yourself for an easier transition. Although Mother Nature physically prepares all new mothers to breastfeed their babies, breastfeeding does not always come naturally. Your baby was born with a natural reflex of breastfeeding but trying to satisfy his/her hunger is something completely new. Breastfeeding is a learning experience for both of you and it is important to be prepared before your baby is born. Remember that most difficulties may arise during the first six weeks after birth. Your determination, getting proper guidance from your doctor and encouragement from your loved ones can help you avoid premature discontinuation of breastfeeding. Eventually you feel relaxed, confident and enjoy breastfeeding.

How to breastfeed properly!

The sooner you start breastfeeding and the more you do it, the faster you can produce colostrum and regular milk. Almost all mothers can breastfeed their children and the production of breast milk is proportional to the needs of the newborn and infant. Breast size has nothing to do with the ability to produce milk.

  • “First Milk” – Colostrum: Colostrum is the first milk that the newborn gets; is thick, yellowish, and scant. The baby’s nutritional needs are being met because colostrum is rich in proteins, salts, vitamins and is law infat, which make sit digestible. But the most important thing of all is that it contains many antibodies, i.e. substances that make babies resistant to infections. This does not mean that breast-feeding children never get sick, but that they are more resilient and easily overcome Some women during pregnancy normally produce colostrum, others produce just a few drops and while others not at all. In any case they are capable of breast-feeding.
  • Mature milk: Almost three days after childbirth colostrum becomes thicker and after the seventh to tenth day becomes mature milk. This does not mean that it has less nutritional value but transforms according to the needs of the child. It is produced in a larger quantity and gives more energy. It contains the optimum quantity and quality proteins, fats, carbohydrates, salts, vitamins, and antibodies in comparison to cow milk. This is one of the reasons breast milk is irreplaceable food for the newborn. It also contains a lot of water and the baby does not need any additional fluids.
  • Children who breastfeed rarely suffer from gastroenteritis, otitis, bronchitis and are more resistant to certain viruses. Breast milk has no germs because the child takes it directly from his/her mother’s breast and does not need any preparation. It contains special substances able to protect the baby against many diseases and allergic manifestations.
  • For premature newborns, their mothers’ milk is the only, ideal food. Recent research has shown that the milk of mother’s giving birth prematurely has significantly higher protein content than the milk of those who give birth normally.
  • Breastfeeding is the foundation of the child’s mental health and bonds mother and child for a lifetime.

New Mothers

If you do decide to breastfeed, you need to be patient and not listen to any irresponsible or misguiding advice. Be calm and happy. Stress is one of the main factors of reducing your milk and your baby may also be affected by your mental state.

Breastfeeding Steps

Breastfeeding should begin as soon as possible, even minutes or hours after childbirth.

  • Every morning while taking a shower, wash your breasts, the folds under it and your armpits with soap and water.  Wash your breasts, before and after breastfeeding, using just water. Do not use antiseptics, because they dry out the natural oiliness of the nipple and making it is prone to injury. Your hands should be soaped before every breast-feeding because this protects your baby from many infections and diseases.
  • Always wear a clean, comfortable, and well-fitting bra and keep your nipples clean and dry.
  • At the time of breastfeeding, you should be comfortable. While breast-feeding, place a pillow on your knees. Your baby should be lying on the side and be turned towards your breast. With one hand you hold your breast and with the other hand you hold your baby’s the head by the neck. When your baby opens his mouth, make sure his lower lip is under the base of your nipple and his head is gently pushed towards your breast. This helps the baby to take in his mouth the dark part around the nipple without injuring the nipple itself. After the baby is placed well on your breast, make sure to hold his head in a slight tilt so that his chin rests on your chest.
  • Your baby should breastfeed the dark area around your nipple. How to achieve the correct breastfeeding position: support your breast from the underside in a u-shaped hold. Gently guide your baby’s mouth to your breast without bending over or leaning forward. You do not give the baby the breast, but you push the baby’s head towards your chest with the palm of your other hand. So, the baby grabs the nipple and does not suck the nipple. If your nipples are injured, do not despair, and seek professional advice. Never interrupt breastfeeding. Do not apply ointments on the nipple. No matter how many ointments you use, unless you breastfeed properly, the nipples will be injured again. Instead of using ointment, you can spread one to two drops of milk all over the nipple because breast milk helps healing.
  • Breastfeeding is free and unlimited. The baby breastfeeds day and night, whenever he wants and as much as he wants. Do not interrupt the breast-feeding process. When done, the baby will leave your breasts by itself. If your baby sleeps while breast-feeding, this does not mean he is done, he will wake up and start breast-feeding again. Breast-feeding will be over when your baby leaves your breast. Each baby is unique and has its own eating habits and schedule. Additionally, your baby can regulate the quantity of milk it needs on its own.
  • Breast feed your baby only from one breast and next time he gets hungry, use the other breast. If you stop breastfeeding from one breast and continue with the other, your baby will only get the original thin milk, because the quality of your milk is different during breastfeeding. At the beginning of breastfeeding milk is thin, while towards the end of breastfeeding it gets viscous, because it contains more fat. This is done around the third to fourth 24 hours. Then only to prevent breast breaking you breast-feeding from both breasts at the same meal.
  • If you have twins, do not despair. Your milk is enough for both your children. You can even breastfeed them at the same time if this works for you. Place both babies -head to head- on pillows directly in front of you. Be sure to keep your babies’ bodies turned toward you, rather than facing up. Use your palms to support each baby’s head. Some babies might show a preference for individual feedings as well. Try different approaches to see what might work best.
  • If you feel thirsty during breast-feeding, have as many fluids as you want.
  • After breastfeeding, keep your baby upright, resting on your chest or face down on your feet, gently rubbing his back to burp and then put it on his bed without a pillow, but with his head on the side. When your baby lays on his back, there is a risk of drowning.
  • Do not wake your baby up after falling asleep during breast-feeding. Only when your breasts are full then wake the baby up and breastfeed him from both breasts.
  • Do not give your baby any liquids between meals. Your milk contains enough water to quench your baby’s thirst. Proper breast-feeding from the breast has a beneficial effect on its teething.
  • If your baby is crying, even if you just breastfed him, do it again and do not give your baby any milk supplement. Do not panic when thinking you do not have enough milk. The first six weeks are adjusting time for both your baby and you.
  • Check your baby’s weight every ten days during the first weeks of his life and then repeat it once a month to see if breastfeeding is enough. Keep in mind that breastfeeding helps your baby to get stronger and not fat.
  • You do not have to eat much to produce milk or try to lose weight too soon after pregnancy. Eat healthy food reach in minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins. If you are thirsty, drink as much water and juice as you want. If you are hungry, eat more but avoid spicy food and sweets, alcohol, and coffee. Prefer oil and avoid fat. Do not eat beans or fava while you are breast-feeding. Breastfeeding will help you losing the weight you put on pregnancy, because the fat you stored is burned to produce milk. Do not follow a strict diet and do not smoke.

Do not forget that:

  • Breast is an organ that produces milk rather than “storage” that you expect to fill between meals.
  • Milk is mainly produced while your baby is breast-feeding.
  • The baby breastfeeds every time he cries, day and night. If he is not crying out of hanger, if you put him on your breast, he will not eat. Something bothers your baby, he may need a change of his diaper, perhaps he is in pain or just needs a cuddle.
  • You will be able to keep up with your baby’s eating schedule after the 6th week/your baby’s eating habits should be settled to a routine after the 6th
  • When breast-feeding properly, milk is sufficient to meet the needs of the newborn.
  • Do not give your baby chamomile or sugar water.
  • Do not give your baby any milk supplement.
  • You need to eat healthy food. If you are hungry, eat more. At the end of breastfeeding, you will lose the extra pregnancy weight.
  • Do not smoke.
  • During your baby’s sleeping hours, rest as well.

Do not! When breastfeeding ends, the breast takes the shape and size it had before. After all, during pregnancy, breasts grow and hang whether the mother breastfeeds or not. In addition, breastfeeding acts protectively against breast cancer.

When you breastfeed properly milk never stops because breastfeeding obeys the law of demand and supply. It is up to you to keep breastfeeding as long as you want. The solution is simple: Feed your baby ONLY with your milk.

If your baby is lively, eats well, sleeps quietly, grows, and only breastfeeds, you don’t need to worry that your baby poops after every feeding. Sometimes breastfed babies may go from several days to a week without having a bowel movement. You have nothing to worry about.

Do not worry or give your baby milk formula. Some babies, around the third to fourth month act like this. Do not push your baby to eat. It is only temporary. Your baby will back on schedule after a few days. The same might happen the first day of menstruation.

This happens in the first few weeks and it is normal. During breastfeeding the body releases a hormone, oxytocin, which causes contractions in the muscle fibers of the breast. This is why you feel pain and burning in the breast. The same contractions occur in the uterus, so the pain in the belly is justified.

Do not worry about it. At the time of orgasm, oxytocin is produced, a hormone responsible for the flow of milk. The solution is simple. Breastfeed your baby first and then make love.

Yes, you will but you have to try. During pregnancy and after childbirth, pull your nipple out and twist it with your forefinger and thumb for 2-3 minutes, 2 times per day. Don’t forget to soap your hands. You can also use a plastic nipple shield. But, as mentioned before, the baby should breastfeed the nipple and not suck the nipple. Therefore, you will be able to breastfeed.

The best way to avoid swelling is to breastfeed properly and frequently from both breasts, when you have feelings of heaviness. If swelling continues besides your efforts, be patient. The most effective breast engorgement treatment is a hungry baby! You should try to empty your breasts as often as you can to allow milk flowing. Have a hot bath or put a warm compress and massage your breasts gently while feeding to help the milk drain effectively. If your breasts are still very firm and full after a feed, express a little milk, either by hand or with a breast pump until you feel comfortable. After breastfeeding, wash your breasts with water, let it dry and wear your bra, keeping your breasts as high as you can. If your baby is asleep and you feel your breasts filling up again, wake him up and breastfeed him from both breasts. Don’t be afraid of causing him indigestion; breastfeeding babies know when to stop eating. Finally, try to be patient. Your body is still getting used to making milk and feeding your baby. The engorgement should soon subside as you both get used to breastfeeding.

You can create your own milk bank by storing breast milk in the refrigerator for up to 3-8 days.

It is recommended toexclusive breastfeeding (i.e. no other fluids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods.

After six months you can gradually replace breastfeeding meals with solid food and the amount of milk will be reduced automatically. Breastfeed your baby only in the morning and evening. After one year, if you do not want to continue, first replace evening and morning breastfeeding with pasteurized or evaporated cow’s milk. By this way you can stop breastfeeding gradually and painlessly.

Always remember that it is good to know as much as you can about breastfeeding, but you also must learn to trust your own instincts. Only you know what is best for you and your baby. Your breastfeeding experience can be wonderful right from the beginning, or it may take a while for you and your baby to feel comfortable during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is something unique for both Mother and Child and as time passes by you will trust more in yourself to look after of your newborn as you become familiar with his daily needs. Just remember that the first six weeks after childbirth is a critical period, as you are called upon to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, adapt to your new role as a mother, and develop a healthy relationship with your baby. Do not forget to take care of yourself, to follow a healthy and nutritious diet, to rest (for as long as you breastfeed to sleep when your baby sleeps). Your baby’s schedules and habits will change day by day as she grows so you need to be flexible. One of the most wonderful aspects of breastfeeding is that you will have all these precious memories for the rest of your life of how soft, warm and wonderful you felt the newborn in your arms, nestled in your chest, and how proud you felt watching your baby grow with the nutritious milk created by your body.