While breastfeeding is natural, many women experiences challenges with it. But making the decision to breastfeed your child is one of the best decisions you will make as a parent. Almost all women are physically able to breastfeed their child and produce enough milk.
However, how you feel about breastfeeding will be affected by several experiences. Experiences from your own childhood, parents, friends and workmates. Besides, managing your body and the quality of your relationships with your family, friends and partner will also be important.
Physically making milk is only one part of breastfeeding. Balancing your changing body shape, your work, your expectations of yourself, your family and your partner, and your own past experiences all contribute to successful breastfeeding. However, if you are having trouble breastfeeding don’t struggle; talk to your midwife.
Benefits of breastfeeding your child with breast milk
Babies and infants have specific nutrition requirements to support their healthy growth and development. Breast milk contains all the nutrients required by your baby for the first 6 months of their life. From around 6 months, your baby can have breast milk along with appropriate solid foods, and continue to do so until they are at least 1 year old, or older.
Along with breast milk providing nutrition for your growing child, breastfeeding has many other benefits. It is easy and free. Also the skin to skin contact can strengthen the bond between mother and baby.
Breast milk has many benefits:
- It is cheap, safe and readily available
- Breast milk digests very easily
- Also, it helps protect your baby against infection. The first milk (colostrum) is particularly high in the mother’s protective antibodies.
- It reduces the risk of allergies.
Tips before breastfeeding your child
- Take time to position yourself comfortably, so that you are relaxed.
- Use some pillows to support yourself or baby (particularly during the first few weeks or months).
- Unwrap your baby’s arms so they can explore your breast.
- Ensure their body is well supported.
- Have your baby’s mouth at the same level as your nipple. Baby’s mouth should go over the nipple and the areola (the brown area around the nipple).
After the feed:
- To release the nipple, break the suction by gently placing your finger in the corner of the baby’s mouth.
- Do not pull the baby off without doing this as you will hurt your nipple.
Looking after yourself while breastfeeding
The sudden changes the birth of a baby brings can be very confusing. Moreover, new demands can have an effect on your personal life together. You will feel tired especially when your baby is young. However, being tired can reduce your milk supply. Consider the following tips;
- Make sure you get enough protein and calcium.
- Have healthy snacks between meals, such as fruit or cheese.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking while breastfeeding.
- Avoid taking OTC medications unless prescribed by your doctor.
- Some oral contraceptives can affect your milk supply – check with your doctor.
- Eat healthy. Eat foods such as fruit and vegetables, bread and cereals. Also consume milk products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream. Consume lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, peas, beans and lentils.