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15 important facts about breast-feeding

Portea Homecare

Portea Homecare

  Domlur, Bengaluru     Feb 12, 2017

   5 min     


Breast milk is probably the best gift one can give to their newborn baby. Here are 15 important facts about breast-feeding that every parents must know. It is not just about the benefits for the newborn but includes the benefits for the mother as well. 

Why breast feed?

  • Breast milk is the ideal food
  • Good for your baby’s health
  • Good for mother’s health
  • It helps develop a very special bond with the child
  • It is the best instant food for baby

How often to breastfeed?

  • Try to give the first breast feed within an hour of birth
  • Later, whenever the baby demands
  • Learn to recognize the cues when the baby is hungry

When should you breastfeed the baby?

Feed “on cues”of the baby which include

  • Sucking sounds
  • Put fingers in mouths
  • Open mouth and turn their head as if they are about to feed
  • Move eyes rapidly
  • Make soft cooing or sighing sounds
  • Smack lips
  • Become restless
  • Crying- But this is a late cue. It may interfere with feeding

How will breast milk help your baby?

  • Now
    • It gives all the nutrients required by the baby
    • It protects your child from common childhood illness like diarrhoea& pneumonia
  • In future
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Lower rate of overweight & obesity
    • Lower rate of type2 diabetes
    • Higher IQ

Why is breast milk better than Infant formula milk?

  • It helps fight disease because it contains substances called antibodies
  • Chances of infection in baby decrease. You do not require a bottle, cup or spoon or water which can be contaminated.
  • There is no danger of malnutrition because of the milk being too thick or too thin. You do not need to formulate it correctly.
  • The more you breastfeed, the more you produce milk. By starting infant formula milk you do not breastfeed. So breast milk production will automatically decrease.

How does it help a mother?

  • It reduces risk of breast cancer
  • It reduces risk of ovarian cancer
  • Helps mother to be back in shape faster
  • Establishes a very special bond between mother and child

How does it help the father?

  • Joy and satisfaction of a healthy baby in the family
  • A better quality of life with your partner in the long run because of health benefits to the mother
  • Improved confidence and self esteem when
    • You help your partner during and after breastfeeding by making her comfortable
    • Burp the baby after the breastfeed
    • Help around the chores in the house so mother can concentrate on breastfeeding

How long to continue breastfeeding?

As long as the mother and baby are comfortable. Generally, up to 2 years.

  • For the first 6 months
    • Give only breast milk
    • Do not give water, any other drink, or any other food. Otherwise benefits of breastfeeding decrease
    • Drops/Syrups containing medicines or nutrition supplements can be given as prescribed by the doctor
  • After 6 months
  • Start mashed solid foods gradually to complement breast milk
  • Do not stop breastfeeding
  • Do not decrease breastfeeding

Not enough breast milk?

  • Initiate suckling as soon as possible
  • Increase fluid intake of mother
  • Ensure correct feeding position
  • Let baby suckle frequently on both breasts
  • Give only breast milk
  • Do not use a pacifier
  • Breastfeed when the baby is hungry and at night
  • Express milk manually if mother has to leave home for work

What do you do for sore and cracked nipples?

  • Use only clean water to wash nipples once a day. No soap, no cream, do not rub hard with a towel.
  • Ensure correct feeding position
  • Continue to breastfeed from both breasts
  • Apply breast milk on nipple & aerola to help the skin heal
  • Do not wear a bra
  • Express milk manually if breastfeeding is intolerable

Part of breast is painful with or without fever?

  • Ensure correct feeding position
  • Let baby suckle on both breasts
  • Massage the breasts gently while baby is suckling
  • Start to breastfeed on unaffected breast first
  • Express milk manually if breastfeeding impossible
  • Do not wear a bra
  • Apply compress on breasts between feeds
  • Consult doctor if there is no improvement after 24 hours

Entire breasts are painful and look tense and shiny?

If baby is still able to suckle,

  • Ensure correct feeding position
  • Let baby suckle on both breasts frequently
  • Breastfeed when baby is hungry and at night
  • Express milk manually if mother has to leave home for work

If baby unable to suckle,

  • Express breast milk manually, apply warm or cold compress to breasts, gently massage the skin around the nipple to stimulate milk flow, and make it soft enough for baby to suckle
  • Correct feeding position
  • Let baby suckle on both breasts frequently
  • Breastfeed when baby is hungry and at night
  • Express milk manually if mother has to leave home for work

How to express breast milk by hand ?

  • Carefully wash and dry hands
  • Use a wide mouthed clean container
  • Position thumb & forefinger on the edge of the aerola, gently bring them together to squeeze milk
  • Press aerola from all sides to empty breasts
  • Repeat on other breast
  • Completely empty both breasts by turns
  • Cover and store in a cool place. It will stay fresh for 8 hours outside or one day in a refrigerator
  • Do not boil or heat breast milk
  • Bring it to room temperature before feeding if stored in a refrigerator.

How can you tell if your baby is getting enough milk?

  • Has frequent wet and dirty diapers about 6 or more per day
  • Appears satisfied after feeding.
  • Is gaining weight 

HIV and breastfeeding

HIV virus which can cause AIDS can be transferred from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.

But after weighing the pro and cons the current recommendation is that mothers who are HIV positive, take antiretroviral drugs and continue to breastfeed for 6 months. At 6 months start solid food along with breast milk. Continue breastfeeding till 1 year of age when the child can be given food with adequate nutrition.

But consult your doctor for specific guidelines. Looking for assistance to manage your newborn better? Avail mother and baby care from Portea at home.

Tags:  breast-feeding, neonatology, Post Pregnancy Care, Diabetics, cancer, HIV,

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