Facts about Breastfeeding
- All mothers can successfully breastfeed their baby, which is the most natural way to feed babies.
- Mother's milk is complete nutrition for the baby for first 6 months and the child should be exclusively breastfed during this period of time.
- No other milk, food, drink or even water is required.
- Your baby should be breastfed immediately after birth, preferably within half to one hour of birth, to give Colostrum to the baby - the initial yellowish mother's milk during the first 2-3 days after birth.
- Breastfeed the baby on demand without any restrictions.
- Nothing should be given before the first breastfeed.
- No pacifiers should be given to the baby.
- You can continue breastfeeding during sickness without any harm to the baby and yourself.
- You should continue breastfeeding for two years or beyond.
- Bottle-feeding is not necessary and even harmful for your baby. It is the leading cause of loose stools in babies.
- Solid foods should be introduced only after 6 months of age.
- Home made, family food is better than commercial food for your baby.
- Commercially available powder milks are always inferior to mother's milk.
Tips on Breastfeeding
- Put your baby on the breast straight after birth.
- It's important to have a drink (preferably water) at your side while breastfeeding. Feeding is thirsty work at first, and water helps replenish fluids that your baby is taking from you.
- To avoid sore nipples, feed your baby in different positions and alternate breast during feeding time.
- Invest in a special nursing bra, so you can use it on one side at a time.
- Leaking is common during early weeks, so buy special breast pads to tuck in your bra. Remember to change them regularly so your breast stays dry.
- Feeding the baby on demand helps to increase the mother's milk supply.
- In case you cannot breastfeed the baby directly, express your milk by using a good breast pump or use both hands to gently squeeze milk from your breast.
As a mother, you should establish good breastfeeding skills as it helps in effective milk transfer to the baby. Good breastfeeding skills include proper positioning of the baby at the breast and effective feeding. One can feed the baby in any comfortable position such as lying (sideways) or sitting. The baby needs free access to the breast. This is important because poor positioning often results in poor attachment.
For feeding, the mother should hold the baby with head straight, facing the breast with his nose opposite to your nipple and his body close, supporting infant's whole body not just the neck and shoulder. Your nipple should touch the infant's mouth. Wait till his mouth opens wide, and offer the whole breast to your baby to get as much as he can into his mouth. Good body positioning is recognised by the following signs:
- Baby’s neck is straight or bent slightly back.
- Baby’s body is turned towards you.
- Baby’s body is close to you.
- Baby’s whole body is supported.
- There is eye contact between you and the baby.
Poor positioning is recognised by any one of the following signs:
- Baby’s neck is twisted or bent forward.
- Baby’s body is turned away from you
- Baby’s body is not close to you.
- Only his head and neck are supported.
- There is no eye contact between you and the baby.
How should the baby suckle at the breast?
Babies suckle for closeness, comfort and pleasure as well as because they are hungry. To suckle effectively, the baby must take enough of the breast into his mouth, so that his tongue can press on the lactiferous sinuses. He must pull out or stretch the breast tissue to form a teat that is much longer than the resting nipple. The nipple just forms one third of this teat. You can sometimes see the long, stretched breast tissue for a moment when your baby stops suckling. This is good attachment. This way the baby draws all the milk from your breast.
If the baby is not well-attached, it may result in pain and damage to the nipples and breast engorgement due to ineffective removal of breast milk. The baby feels unsatisfied and wants feed very often and for a long time. He may get too little milk and not gain weight and the breast milk may dry up.
How long should the baby suckle?
The suckling pattern varies, with some babies fulfilling their requirements in 5-10 minutes while others take longer. The baby should be allowed to decide the duration of the feed. But if breastfeeds are very long (more than about half an hour) or very short (less than about 4 minutes) it may mean there is some problem. In the first few days, or with a low-birth-weight baby, breastfeeds may be very long and this is normal. You should feed your baby from one breast completely and then put the baby to the second breast, so that both breasts get equal stimulation for milk production.
How many times should the baby be breastfed in a day?
The baby should be fed on demand with at least more than 8 feeds in 24 hours. Initially the demands are very frequent but by 1-2 weeks the frequency decreases. The baby should be fed as frequently and for as long as he wants to, even at night. Breastfeeding at night helps maintain the milk supply as more prolactin is secreted during the night.
Source: Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India