World Breastfeeding Week is observed annually from 1 to 7 August. It was first started in 1992 by WHO to promote the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. According to UNICEF, “Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives to achieve optimal growth, development and health, and thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional needs, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed for two years or more.”
There are countless benefits of breastfeeding for the baby. It is the best source of all the nutritional needs of the baby and even makes changes as per their needs. Breastfeeding also helps in strengthening their immune system and protects them from short to long term diseases like allergies, bowel conditions, diabetes, respiratory infections etc. Other than this, Breastfeeding promotes baby’s neurodevelopment And thus leads to better cognitive abilities. Physical intimacy such as skin-to-skin touch and eye contact during breastfeeding may also be linked to better behavioral patterns seen among breastfed infants early in their lives.
The list of benefits for breastfeeding mothers is also long. Breastfeeding mothers are seen to recover better from childbirth. The hormone oxytocin released during breastfeeding not only helps the uterus to return to its regular size faster but also reduces postpartum bleeding. Oxytocin helps mother bond more with her baby And thus reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Breastfeeding protects breastfeeding mothers from ovarian and breast cancer, as well as many other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can also stop menstruation and ovulation in some women which can prevent iron deficiency after giving birth and thus prevent anemia.
When we are talking about the benefits of breastfeeding, there are many myths surrounding it. Let’s clear up some of them.
Un-Latching the Truth
Myth 1 – Breast size is proportional to the amount of milk it can produce
first thing first, Breast size has nothing to do with ability to produce milk, Breast size is determined by fatty tissues while glandular tissue is responsible for milk production. Most mothers produce enough milk to feed their babies. A hormone called prolactin stimulates the mammary glands in the breast to secrete milk. As the baby sucks, the body releases even more prolactin and so on. The more food a child eats, the more the mother produces.
Keeping this in mind, a sudden increase in appetite does not necessarily mean that the mother is not making enough milk, but it is a sign of rapid growth in the baby. Once their baby’s appetite suddenly increases, many mothers begin to doubt their supply, but on-demand feeding is unable to adjust the mother’s milk supply to meet their baby’s growing needs. Will help.
Myth 2 – Breastfeeding should be stopped when mom is sick
This is one of the most common myths about breastfeeding. Keeping in mind the health of their baby, most mothers temporarily stop breastfeeding when they are ill, especially in the case of colds and flu and stomach infections. However, in addition to extreme conditions such as HIV or the Ebola virus, health experts believe that Breastfeeding by a sick mother is not only safe but also beneficial for the baby. Breastmilk cannot transmit disease, but the antibodies that the mother develops to fight off foreign bodies can reduce the risk for the baby to suffer from the same or even help them fight it.
Having said that, in case of communicable diseases like common cold it is necessary to maintain proper hygiene to prevent its spread.
If medications are the reason someone is unsure whether they should breastfeed, tell the doctor they are a nursing mother. While most of the medicines have no effect on breast milk, it is better to be sure in case of babies.
Myth 3 – Lactating mothers should avoid spicy food
Given that what a mother eats has an effect on her breast milk, it is understandable that she refrains from food that seems to be potentially harmful to her baby. Breastfeeding mothers turn their backs on various spices with strong taste which they feel may bother their babies. However, this belief is only partially true.
What a mother eats affects her breast milk but spicy foods can actually benefit young humans. Babies are born with an evolutionary tendency to prefer sweet and avoid bitter foods to encourage the consumption of energy-dense foods while avoiding the intake of toxins. While this taste preference may work in the early years, we all know that eating sugary foods leads to a number of health complications in life, from diabetes to cardiovascular conditions. Thus, even though the taste of breast milk changes according to what the mother eats, it introduces the idea of different tastes to a baby and once they start eating solids they should be able to eat their own food. You can encourage yourself to be more open to including a variety of flavors. In addition, recently Research Explains that any food should not be avoided during breastfeeding unless the baby reacts negatively to it.
Myth 4 – Exercising reduces breast milk production
The answer to whether you can exercise while breastfeeding is yes. Exercising may increase the amount of lactic acid in breast milk which may change its taste but this is only temporary and certainly does not make breast milk unhealthy. To combat this, you can keep an eye on your workout intensity. Breastfeeding mothers are advised to do low- or moderate-intensity exercise, Staying hydrated and having a calorie-rich diet are of vital importance here. It is dehydration that affects milk production and not exercise. In addition, not getting enough calories can cause you to lose weight rapidly, which can reduce milk supply, vitamins, and nutrients in your system.
Pro Tip- Feeding or pumping baby right before exercising will help you avoid nauseous or uncomfortable feeling of fullness during your workout.
With these myths off the table, it’s safe to say we understand the dynamics of breastfeeding a little better. Yet, through these myths, we realize how mothers go the extra mile like skipping their favorite foods or compromising on their body shape to ensure the best for their baby. Breastfeeding requires dedication and effort on the part of mothers and it can be difficult to fully master the art. Every child is unique and so is the experience of a mother in their upbringing. However, we have listed some tips that can come in handy while taking care of babies.
Tips for Nursing Mothers
1. understand hunger cues
Children cry when they are hungry. That said, watching your babies can help you predict when they might be hungry so that you don’t have to wait for them to cry for attention. Frequently raising your head, opening and closing your mouth or sticking out your tongue are common signs that the baby is hungry. If you see your baby making these gestures, offer to feed him. This will deepen your level of intimacy with your child as they gradually realize that they do not need to struggle for your attention.
2. give baby an upper hand
Let’s just say the kids are quite iffy. The person who knows them best is themselves. (Mom and Dad!) That being said, it’s best to let your baby decide when and for how long to feed. Don’t deny a baby her food because she just had it or wake her to feed because it’s been a long time since her last feeding. The time interval you set for your child is sadly not going to work for them. Let him be the judge here. The same goes for the period of breastfeeding. Some kids are quick eaters, while some like to take their time.
3. Correct Position
As mentioned above, children know themselves best. They know the most comfortable position when they nurse. Pay attention to these positions so that breastfeeding becomes easier over time. While this can vary from child to child, some general rules can help both of you get comfortable. Position your baby in such a way that his head is tilted slightly back and he does not have to move much. Their chin should be just above your breast so that their nose is clear and they can breathe normally while sucking. Lastly, their mouth should be at the level of your nipple. Try latching them onto the entire areola, not just the nipple, for a pain-free feeding.
4. your comfort matters
Your being in a comfortable position is just as important as that of your baby while you are breastfeeding. Staying in an uncomfortable position for a long time can cause back, shoulder and neck pain. Frequent lures on your part can also disrupt your baby’s breastfeeding, making him irritable.
Read more about different breastfeeding positions and choose the best one for you.
Also, make sure you are calm during breastfeeding. Babies can sense if you’re not comfortable which may prompt them to latch on properly and then you know the drill!
We learned above that it is important to remain relaxed during breastfeeding. But what to do when you are in a hostile environment? How do you feed your baby if it’s not okay to do it in public? It is also recommended that the infant should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. What does this mean for the working mother? There is only one answer to all these questions – pumping and storing breastmilk. While there are ifs but how and how many when pumping and storing breast milk, we are here to help you.
Pump-ed up for later
Wash your hands with soap and water before expressing your breast milk. Store expressed milk in a clean, capped food-grade glass container or hard plastic container made from BPA-free ingredients. You can also use special plastic bags designed for milk collection and storage. It is advisable to check the date and time the breast milk was expressed on the containers and store them at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer, depending on when you use them. want to do. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature for up to six hours, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and in the freezer for up to 6 months.
You can see your stored breastmilk separating into layers, with the fat (cream) rising to the top. There’s nothing to worry about. Simply swirl the container gently to mix the layers before feeding your baby. Remember not to shake or shake the container vigorously as this may damage some of the milk’s nutritional and protective components.
When your baby feeds expressed breast milk from a cup or bottle, bacteria from her mouth can end up in the milk and thus the leftover milk should be thrown away within one to two hours of their initial feeding. To avoid wasting expressed milk, it is better to store it in small quantities.
While we encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies, we also understand the mental pressure that comes with it and thus respect the decision of a woman who decides against it. Because at the end of the day, a mother knows what is best for her child.