Breast feeding is becoming known more popularly as the healthy choice for woman and their infants, the question is why. Breast milk for one thing is easier for the baby’s stomach to digest opposed to formula. Breast milk contains nutrients, cells and hormones that newborns need. Baby formula cannot match the chemical make up of breast milk.
Breast milk the first three to five days after birth is yellow and thick, this is called colostrum. This type of milk has all the nutrients, hormones, and antibodies that newborns require to be healthy. After this period of time the milk becomes thin and white and tailors to the babies nutrition needs.
Part of understanding how to breast feed properly comes from knowing how breast milk is created to begin with. A woman’s breast is essentially a large gland. Cells inside a woman’s breast called aveoli create milk in response to the hormone prolactin, then a hormone called oxytocin makes small muscles around the cells constrict and move milk through the tubes that lead to the milk ducts in the nipple itself and around the areola. The size of a woman’s breast have nothing to do with how much milk they will produce and will not affect the ability or effectiveness of her breastfeeding.
Latching can sometimes be an issue for new mothers. If the latch is painful then it is best for the woman to break the latch by placing a clean finger in the corner of the babies mouth and then help the baby relatch by pointing the nipple toward the back of the babies mouth as well as placing the base of the nipple as far from the bottom lip as possible. After feeding the nipple should not be flattened or compressed in any way, the nipple should either be the same as before feeding or long and rounded.
It is best for the mother to breast feed as soon as possible after the baby is born, if the baby is born a vaginal birth then the mother should breast feed right after to enforce the bond and help the baby to know its mother. If the birth is a C section then the mother should breast feed as soon as it is safe for both the mother and child.
Breast feeding should not be a painful experience. If a latch hurts then it is best to help your baby relatch and follow the steps previously mentioned. The mother should know that a baby knows how to latch and how to find a breast on its own.
A mother should learn her child’s signs of hunger as early on as possible by keeping the baby in the room with her while she is in the hospital. Babies will become more alert and active when they are hungry they will put their fists to their mouths or move their head around searching for a breast, crying is a critical sign of hunger.