Breastfeeding

Health professionals recommend that breastfeeding begin within the first hour of a baby's life and continue as often and as much as the baby wants.
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When should I start breastfeeding?

You should start breastfeeding shortly after the birth, as soon as you have recovered. The dense milk (colostrum) that the body produces in the first few days after birth must be given to the baby. Colostrum helps the baby to grow and take in protective substances that fight against disease. Even if milk production is delayed for 1 or 2 days, you should avoid starting to feed your baby with formula milk or a bottle. You should keep breastfeeding, if possible. When the baby is breastfed frequently, even after 3 or 4 days, some milk may come out of your breasts. Breastfeeding should be maintained for newborns and jaundiced babies. Artificial teats should not be given to the baby, if avoidable.

How should the baby be latched onto the breast?

It may be comfortable for the mother to breastfeed lying down during the first few days. In this way, the baby is positioned facing the mother, who is lying on her side. The mother can move the baby with her free arm and hand towards her breast. It may help the baby to settle if the mother uses a pillow to support her back while breastfeeding. When breastfeeding in the sitting position, the mother should sit up or bend a little but her lap should be straight. For this position, she can use a stool under her feet if necessary. A pillow placed on her lap can help her to hold the baby comfortably.

How can the baby latch onto the breast better?

Babies nurse by opening their mouth wide and moving their tongue. Bring your baby slowly to the breast, making their mouth touch the nipple. The mother may experience nipple pain when she starts breastfeeding. However, pain that does not go away during breastfeeding indicates that the baby is not latching onto the breast correctly. The reason for the nipple pain is that the baby is moving their tongue against the nipple instead of the breast.

If their mouth is not sufficiently open, the tongue will rub against and injure the nipple. If the baby does not seem to be sufficiently full after breastfeeding, it means that they are experiencing a problem in latching onto the breast. The baby must open their mouth wide to reach the ducts full of milk.

Expressing and storing breast milk and feeding it to the baby

In any situation that efficient breastfeeding cannot take place, you should keep feeding your baby with breast milk without using other baby formulas. In the case of the mother or baby experiencing difficulty in breastfeeding, you can express your breast milk with your hands or by using an electric breast pump to express the milk.

Storing freshly expressed breast milk

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in a fridge for up to 24 hours.

It can be stored in the freezer compartment of a fridge for up to 4 weeks.

It can be stored in a freezer for up to 6 months.

Breast milk which is already refrigerated can be stored in a fridge for up to 24 hours.

It will not spoil for 6-8 hours at room temperature.

Breast milk which has previously been refrigerated should not be refrozen.

Breast milk taken out of the fridge should be thawed at room temperature or should be warmed by gently swirling it in hot water. It should not be thawed using direct heat or a microwave.

Increasing and restarting breast milk supply

If milk production is reduced due to reasons such as stopping breastfeeding because of the mother or baby being ill or the baby starting on an artificial diet, the mother needs to increase her milk production, should she wish to start producing breast milk again. To achieve this, the mother should breastfeed her baby frequently, maintain a healthy diet, consume lots of fluids, and, above all, she should be focused on breastfeeding her baby. A regular increase in the breast milk supply will be observed within a few days after the baby starts nursing again.

How to express breast milk

Every mother should know how to express breast milk by hand. Expressing breast milk may be necessary in a variety of situations. Expressing milk helps with:

Relieving breast congestion and swelling;

Feeding the baby until they learn how to nurse from an inverted nipple;

Feeding a baby who does not want breastfeeding until they like nursing;

Feeding a low birth weight baby who cannot nurse efficiently;

Preventing milk from flowing needlessly, if the baby cannot nurse efficiently;

Preventing milk from leaking, if either the mother or the baby is sick;

If the mother works.

Using the hands is the best way to express breast milk. It does not require any equipment and it can be done anywhere and any time. Make sure the cup in which the milk will be poured is sterile. You should choose a wide-brim cup or glass when expressing milk by hand. Wash the cup with soap and water; then boil the cup in or fill it with boiling water. After a few minutes, it can be emptied. Boiling water will destroy most bacteria.

The importance of breast milk

The most favourable nutrition for the baby’s physical and mental health is breast milk.

Milk production is easier with breastfeeding that is started shortly after the birth and done frequently.

Thanks to early breastfeeding, postpartum bleeding stops quickly, the breasts do not become congested or infected and the postpartum period gets easier.

Breastfed babies have no need for any additional fluids, including water, additional nutrition or vitamins, except for vitamin D.

Giving the baby additional fluids or nutrition decreases the mother’s breast milk production.

Babies fed with breast milk only for the first 6 months grow up and thrive in a healthy manner. They become immune to diseases, they do not catch microbial diseases such as diarrhoea and they do not get sick as often after this period.

Thanks to breastfeeding, the relationship between the mother and the baby grows stronger, which makes it easier for the mother to embrace her baby and for the baby to develop a healthy personality.

Every healthy mother can produce sufficient milk for her baby.

What are the benefits of breast milk?

The yellow milk that comes out after birth is called beestings/colostrum. It protects the baby against diseases. Despite its small quantity, it is sufficient to feed the baby and initiate bowel movement.

Breast milk is the ideal nutrition for feeding the baby.

Breast milk is the most natural and fresh nutrition.

Breast milk is always clean and sterile.

Breast milk is always available and economical.

Breast milk is easily and fully digested.

Breastfed babies suffer from abdominal pain and constipation less frequently.

Breast milk mediates the mother-child attachment.

Breastfeeding your baby may help with their intellectual development.

A breastfeeding mother experiences less postpartum bleeding.

A breastfeeding mother loses weight more easily due to increased metabolic functioning.

Breastfeeding may lower the risk of contracting breast, uterine and cervical cancers.

Expressing breast milk by hand

1. Wash your hands thoroughly before the expression process.

2. Sit comfortably, then gently massage your breast with your fingertips from the outer part of the breast, moving inwards towards the brownish or pinkish area surrounding the nipple. Apply a warm towel over your breast to increase milk flow.

3. Hold your breast by placing your thumb over the top part and cupping your other fingers under the bottom part. If the breast is large, you should hold it with one hand on top and the other hand at the bottom. To express breast milk, gently press your thumb and fingers together inwards, towards the chest wall, and then against each other. Keep pressing while moving your hand away from the chest wall. In this way, breast milk flows towards the nipple. Breast milk expression is not a painful process; if you feel pain, then there is a problem with the method you are using. When you repeat this process, breast milk starts to flow. You should repeat the expression process for milk flow. During the expression process, you should move your fingertips by rolling them; you should not rub the skin on your breast with your fingertips. You should not move your hand around the fleshy part of the breast only; you should massage your entire breast including the armpit. Expressing breast milk by hand takes about 20-30 minutes. Applying a warm towel, taking a warm bath, and dangling the breasts by leaning forward helps breast milk to flow. Leaning forward empties the bottom region.

MORE BREASTFEEDING = MORE STIMULATION = MORE MILK

The more the baby nurses, the more milk the mother produces.

Should I use both breasts for breastfeeding?

The milk that comes out at the beginning of each breastfeeding is the “foremilk”, which contains less fat. As the baby keeps nursing, the composition of breast milk changes and its fat content increases. “Hindmilk” is the milk which is highest in fat content and is the type of milk lactated at the end of breastfeeding. A baby needs both foremilk and hindmilk.

The fat content of hindmilk is similar to that of cow’s milk. It is lighter and more digestible. This fat is an invaluable source of energy for the baby. The baby develops the feeling of fullness and they need the energy provided by this fat to gain sufficient weight.

If you latch your baby onto your breast well and feed them until they are full and stop nursing by themselves, it means that your baby is taking both foremilk and hindmilk. If the baby wants to keep nursing, you can give them your other breast. If the baby is fed with only one breast, you should use the other one for the next feeding. In the meantime, it is appropriate to express the remaining milk after breastfeeding. If you feed your baby with both of your breasts, next time you should start next feeding with the breast the baby nursed on the previous time. Most babies get full by nursing on a single breast for 5-10 minutes and then fall asleep. Some babies nurse for at least 20-30 minutes.

Is night-time breastfeeding necessary?

Night-time breastfeeding increases milk production as more hormones are secreted at night. The hormones which increase milk production relax the mother and sometimes make her drowsy. Thus the mother generally gets a good night’s rest even after breastfeeding at night. Babies also want to nurse at night, until they are able to be satisfied with breastfeeding during the day only. The time to stop night-time breastfeeding varies depending on the baby. Generally, gaps between night-time feedings become longer after the first few months.

How often should you feed your baby?

There is no need to set a time limit for breastfeeding,

You should breastfeed your baby frequently in order to increase milk supply.

You should breastfeed your baby whenever they cry.

Newborn babies usually want to nurse 8-10 times a day; this number gradually decreases.

Breastfeeding frequently prevents breast congestion and pain and ensures a large amount of milk supply.

Feed your baby with breast milk only during the first 6 months for their health and mental wellbeing. After the first 6 months, you can keep breastfeeding with proper nutritional supplements for up to 2 more years. Breast milk contains the correct amount of nutrition and water necessary for the baby. Breast milk satisfies your baby’s thirst even when it’s very hot. If you give water to your baby, they won’t want to nurse as their stomach will be full of water. As a result of this, the baby will nurse less and breast milk production will be reduced.

How to relieve a baby’s wind after breastfeeding

After breastfeeding, holding the baby up straight for 10-15 minutes helps them to relieve excessive pressure. If the baby falls asleep on the breast and seems peaceful, there is no need to relieve their wind. If the baby is fussy, gently patting them on the back while holding them up straight can help to relieve any trapped wind.

Why do babies hiccup and what should you do to stop it?

Babies hiccup due to the development of a muscle called the diaphragm.

It is a completely normal and physiological event. To stop hiccups:

• Wait

• Hold the baby straight

• Massage the bottom of their feet

• Breastfeed the baby for a short time Hiccups may persist for several minutes or up to an hour. If the baby continues to hiccup for more than an hour, if the hiccuping does not stop despite the measures taken and if it lasts so long it prevents the baby from nursing, you should consult your doctor.

If you’d like to know more tips about newborns, don’t hesitate to consult our other articles.

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