Breastfeeding refers to the feeding of infants and toddlers with a woman’s breast milk. Doctors consider it to be vital for the baby as it is rich in essential nutrients for the growth of the baby. Breastfeeding starts right from the time of baby’s birth and continues for a few months or years. Initially, mothers breastfeed the baby for 10 to 15 minutes on each breast at the interval of every two hours. As the baby grows older, the feeding occurs less frequently. It is also called as nursing or lactation in medical terms. Sometimes, mothers, overproduce breast milk, which is even pumped and stored in bottles for further use. Breastfeeding has numerous advantages for both the nursing mother and the baby.
Breast Milk Composition
The breast is mainly composed of adipose tissue before pregnancy. During pregnancy, the breast undergoes hormonal changes. Estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and other hormones contribute to the changes that occur, which are an increase in the size of breast, nipples, and ultimately, milk production. During the second trimester of pregnancy, a thick yellowish fluid called colostrum produce in the chest which continues until birth and afterward till the milk flows naturally. Colostrum is natural for digestion, and it has a laxative effect helpful in the passing of first stool in infants. It helps get rid of excess bilirubin that causes jaundice. Colostrum also contains IgA that is immunoglobulin A that helps fighting germs attack.
Breast milk is divided into two parts. First, foremilk, which is thinner in consistency, also contains the essential vitamins and proteins helpful in the growth and development of the baby. Second, hindmilk, which has a creamier texture as it contains fats only.
Benefits Of Breast Milk
Breast milk benefits both the nursing mother and the baby.
Benefits for babies are;
- Lower risk or chances of asthma.
- No food allergies.
- Type 1 diabetes.
Benefits for nursing mother
- Uterus shrinkage
- Reduced postpartum depression.
- Delay in menstruation and fertility
Breast Feeding Manner
The process of breastfeeding involves lots of things to consider carefully. The first thing that comes in the process is skin to skin touch. The baby is allowed to have skin touch with mother. It is essential as the baby develops the stimulation towards the breast and also starts sucking them naturally. Next comes the timings of the feeding hours. Initially, mothers feed the child every one to three hours for the first few weeks. Eventually, mothers reduce the frequency of feeding to more extended hours.
The position of the body while feeding also holds its importance. It is essential to ensure the proper flow of milk to the baby’s mouth and also to avoid sore nipples too. Moreover, there are different patterns of breastfeeding which are football hold position, cradle pose, cross body, cross over, etc. each pattern is supposed to relax both mother and baby and ease the process of lactation.
The process of breastfeeding demands excellent care and also patience. Moreover, from latching on (an action that describes the baby attaching to the nipples for milk) to weaning (replacing breast milk with other substitutes of food), it requires special upkeep. Health experts suggest breastfeeding strictly until six months from delivery. Mothers should carry breastfeeding for a year or two. Even when the child is introduced to solid foods and other substitutes.