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Breastfeeding Basics – Everything You Need to Know

Breastfeeding is one of the most important and rewarding decisions a woman can make, but it’s not always easy. There are many misconceptions about breastfeeding that lead women to give up before they ever get started. With so much misinformation out there, it’s hard to know what is true and what isn’t. This article will dispel some common myths about breastfeeding and offer advice on how you can successfully breastfeed your baby for as long as possible.

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Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mom and baby

The benefits of breastfeeding are often overlooked because people think that formula feeding is just as good or better than breast milk. And while formula is perfectly adequate for giving babies their proper nutrition, breastfeeding has a few extra advantages.

Formula does not contain any antibodies, which means babies who drink formula have more risk of getting sick. Breast milk is naturally enriched with antibodies that help protect the baby’s immune system and fight off viruses, bacteria, and even some diseases! In fact, studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to get diarrhea, ear infections, stomach bugs, vomiting and colds than formula-fed infants. These problems can lead to more serious illnesses like meningitis and pneumonia for the baby, which could be fatal.

You can also protect your own health by breastfeeding! In fact, studies show that women who breastfeed have a significantly lower risk of getting Type II Diabetes than those who don’t. If mom is healthy, she will pass this on to her infant as well. Furthermore, breastfeeding can actually help you lose your pregnancy weight faster. When you are producing breast milk, you burn calories at an increased rate of 300 per day!

coordinated mother and baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can help mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster

Ad mentioned above, breastfeeding not only helps a new mother’s postpartum weight but it also helps them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster. Breastfeeding saves moms from the pain of exercising for long hours in order to lose weight.

Breastfeeding burns an average of 300 extra calories per day, which effectively burns off an extra pound each week. It takes about 3500 calories to lose one pound, so breastfeeding is a natural weight loss aid. The more you breastfeed your baby, the more weight you will lose!

While the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and significant for both mom and baby, breastfeeding is not all sunshine and roses. There are some things that you may want to be aware of, including the potential drawbacks of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can cause sore and damaged nipples

Many women feel pain while breastfeeding because they have never been properly prepared for it. Many doctors don’t give enough information about how to breastfeed or what to expect from the process. They tell women that breastfeeding is easy and natural but it’s not as simple as they make it out to be.

Breastfeeding requires a mother to use one hand to hold the breast, while using another hand or object to compress the breast tissue against a newborn’s mouth, so that her mouth can stimulate the milk ducts to release the milk. This constant use of your breasts can cause your nipples to become sore and cracked, which is an uncomfortable feeling for some women. Some small lacerations or tears in the nipple may also occur as a result of breast compressing, which may be very painful when breastfeeding initially after delivery.

Breastfeeding can cause blocked milk ducts, mastitis and nipple thrush

Blocked milk ducts are a common problem that breastfeeding mothers may find themselves contending with. The breast tissue becomes engorged when a woman is first starting to breastfeed or if it’s her very first time breastfeeding. This extra pressure can block some of the ducts, which causes the mother to experience a lump in one breast, tingling and soreness.

Breastfeeding can also lead to mastitis. Mastitis is inflammation of the milk ducts that occurs when there are blocked ducts or bacteria present that infects the gland and causes swelling. If left untreated, it can cause fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea and redness in the breast.

Mastitis is painful and can requires antibiotics to clear it up. Nipple thrush or yeast infection is also another breastfeeding complication that may occur if you are not taking any precautions against it. Mastitis and nipple thrush are treated with oral medications such as Diflucan for up to six weeks.

If you have nipple thrush and don’t treat it, it can spread to your baby’s mouth and cause her pain while breastfeeding. Babies who have thrush will be fussy when they are breastfeeding. They tend to irritate their mouth by chewing on your nipples instead of latching on properly with their tongue and lips. If your baby has thrush, this can result in poor milk supply for you because she will not be able to properly latch on and suckle from the breast.

It is important that before attempting to breastfeed, a new mother ensures that they are pain-free and well-prepared for breastfeeding. They need to know how to properly and correctly breastfeed, to avoid the possible negative effects of breastfeeding.

A good breastfeeding bra can make a big difference

A good nursing bra can help to prevent any injuries or discomforts while breastfeeding your child. A cotton-lined wire-free bra will be very comfortable for you as it absorbs moisture from your body and helps to keep your breasts from getting too engorged.

A good breastfeeding bra is designed in such a way that it can help you to latch the baby properly on the breast without causing any problems or discomfort for either the mother or child. There are certain types of bras which have wide and padded straps, where you can easily adjust them according to your comfort and thus avoid any unnecessary pressure on the neck or shoulders.

Serious calm careful young black mom sitting on sofa bed and breastfeeding baby while holding son in arms

Things You Need To Know Before Breastfeeding

  1. If you have not breastfed a baby before, then you need to set up an appointment with a lactation consultant so she can show you the proper way to latch your baby on and also demonstrate how to properly pump your breast if necessary.
  2. You need to have a good supportive bra as well as a good breastfeeding pillow so that the child can latch onto the breast without pain or discomfort to either of you.
  3. It is recommended that you nurse at least every two hours in the beginning, until you establish a good healthy milk supply.
  4. When breastfeeding, ensure that the baby is latched on properly so it doesn’t cause pain or soreness for either of you. This can be done by using your thumb to pull down and away from your body that side’s nipple and then putting her mouth around the nipple.
  5. If you are breastfeeding for the first time or if it is a new baby, then you should learn all of these positions and get into whichever one is easiest for you:

    Cradle Position : You can sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and put your baby’s body in an upright position. Then you can bring your baby’s head to the breast, while supporting her body with one arm underneath the neck and the other hand behind her bottom. The nipple should be towards the back of your baby’s mouth.

    Reclined Position : Lay back and allow the baby to lay skin-to-skin against your chest. This is the first position most women breastfeed in since a baby is generally placed on your chest after birth. It is especially good for those who have larger breasts or a strong let-down.

    Football Hold : This position is also called the underarm hold, and it works by having the baby lay along your forearm with his legs toward the back of your seat. It works well with a breastfeeding pillow, but with or without one, you should hold your hand under his head/neck area for support. This position is great for women who have had a c-section, twins or a premature baby.

    Side Lay Position : This is a comfortable position for both mom and baby. Mother and baby lay side by side with bellies together. You can place baby’s head on your bicep for extra support, or simply allow them to lay free on the bed.

    Koala Position : This position keeps the baby upright and has them straddling your thigh or hip as you support their heads and backs against you. Babies who have reflux, ear infections, low muscle tone or tongue-tie thrive in this position.
  6. You will see a lot of people recommending Lansinoh Lanolin as an excellent cream for sore nipples and thrush. It is a must-have for breastfeeding mothers! This is totally safe for babies to ingest, and it helps to keep nipple pain at bay.
  7. You may notice that your baby has some milk on her chin when she latches onto the breast, but don’t try to wipe it off because it helps to stimulate her appetite and she might be unwilling to nurse again for a while.
  8. It is best that you try breastfeeding for at least 6 weeks before you give up on it so that you can establish a good milk supply. If you want to stop sooner than that, then at least try using a breast pump for 10 minutes every other day to build up your freezer stash of breastmilk.
common breastfeeding positions

Things To Be Prepared For When Breastfeeding

  1. You will have painful breasts in the beginning, and you may also have some milk leaking from them. Some possible solutions are to use a breast pad or wear an incredibly supportive bra that will not let your breasts sag.
  2. It is highly recommended that you give yourself time every single day to relax, such as going for a walk while the baby is sleeping. That way, you can ensure that you are getting plenty of sleep at night.
  3. You will need to find out how much your baby is eating, and you can do this by weighing her before and after a feeding session. If she gains weight in the right manner, then everything is going well!
  4. You will need to make sure that your baby’s immunizations are up to date and that you have a good pediatrician.
  5. You will want to find out what breast pumping or breastfeeding accessories are recommended for the workplace, such as:
    • A comfortable chair with a foot rest
    • An area that is private and away from everyone else
    • A set schedule so you can make pumping part of your daily routine
  6. You may need to find some tips to help you with pumping and storing breast milk.
  7. When breastfeeding, don’t forget that it’s good for baby too:
    • Breastfed babies have fewer colds
    • They have less chance of becoming obese later in life
    • Breastfed babies have better mental development
    • Their immune systems are strengthened against illness
    • They develop fewer allergies (eg. to peanuts)
  8. You may think that you are not producing enough milk, but this is a common misconception. First off, your baby will eat at least 8-12 times in 24 hours so a bottle of expressed breastmilk will last you a long time, maybe even over the whole day if your baby is on a two-hour feeding schedule.
  9. You should know that having plenty of milk supply at first will make breastfeeding easier for the rest of the nursing relationship:
    • Your child may not want to nurse as often
    • There will be less need to use a bottle
    • You will not feel the pressure to keep up with a fast pace of nursing
    • Your child may be able to go longer between feedings
  10. Never be afraid to ask questions of your doctors and nurses about breastfeeding. It will be helpful if you have a journal so that you can write down everything in case you forget anything later on. After all of the information is given to you, you can ask questions to help you make an informed decision. Some things to consider:
    • You should ask if they think you will be able to make enough milk
    • You might be told that you need a breast pump or other accessories
    • Ask what their policy is about pumping at work
    • Research lactation consultants in your area, and ask the doctor if they can recommend one for you
  11. Try to avoid drinking tea, coffee, colas etc. while breastfeeding because it will increase the amount of caffeine going into your bloodstream and through to your baby’s bloodstream too. You might want to double-check the labels on your oatmeal and cereal too, as they may contain a lot of caffeine. If you are worried about your breast milk supply, try cutting out caffeinated drinks for a couple days.
  12. Make sure that you have plenty of time off work so that you can spend it with your baby at home. During this time, don’t forget self-care too!
  13. If you were unable to breastfeed for whatever reason, make sure that your baby gets iron-fortified formula and vitamins with minerals from the time they are young. Solid foods should be introduced gradually at about 6 months of age (or when their weight doubles).
  14. If you plan to breastfeed your baby for a year or longer, you should know that it is beneficial to keep breastfeeding after 6 months. You can try introducing other foods at this time. Make sure that you continue to eat a balanced diet to stay healthy.
  15. If you choose to breastfeed your child, don’t forget that it is still necessary to feed them a well-balanced diet full of fruits and veggies so as not to negatively affect their health in any way. Your pediatrician will be able to help you find out exactly how much solid food your child needs.
  16. If you have any questions or concerns about the health benefits of breastfeeding, be sure to ask your doctor!
benefits of breastfeeding

The benefits of breastfeeding are enormous. Let’s review:

  • Promotes healthy brain development
  • Can help with weight-loss postpartum
  • Decreases risk of Type II Diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension and high cholesterol
  • Decreases chances for developing allergies to food
  • Can help prevent childhood obesity
  • Improves vision and ability to pay attention
  • Promotes healthy immune system

Breastfeeding your newborn is a natural, instinctive act. It not only provides the best nutrition for your baby, it also has many benefits to you as well! Studies show that children who were breastfed are more likely to be healthier in adulthood than those who weren’t.

Consider breastfeeding at least until they’re six months old if possible because by then milk production decreases and return-to-work plans may require supplementation with formula or expressed breastmilk. In addition, research shows that infants weaned too early are at greater risk of developing asthma, diabetes Type II later in life (especially among women), obesity, hypertension and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.

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