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Breastfeeding Basics: What New Moms Need to Know (Guide)


Mother Holding Her Newborn
Mother Holding Her Newborn

A baby's first food is the mother's breastmilk, and it is the best source of nutrients for the child. The benefits of breastmilk are irreplaceable. No other kind of milk can leash the benefits that breastmilk provides to the baby.


It helps in the healthy growth of your child, boosts the immune system, and reduces the risks of infections. Therefore, it is important to know how it's made and what can you do to increase the milk supply for a better latch.

 

In This Article

 

How does Breastfeeding Work?


As soon as you become pregnant, the phenomenon of breast milk begins. The milk-making procedure kicks off early on in the second trimester. Now, let's understand how it's made.


Lactogenesis I


The bulkiness and sensitivity of the breast that you notice during pregnancy are due to the hormone's estrogen and progesterone. They make the milk ducts and cause the milk-making tissue to rise and increase in number.


Then the nipples and areola expand and become darker. The size of the breast eventually increases, and the blood flow escalates.


The very first breast milk produced is called Colostrum and is produced during the sixteenth to the twenty-second week of pregnancy. Some women might notice white dot-like drops on their nipples already whereas some might not. The stage after labor, when you begin to feed your child is known as stage two of Lactogenesis.



Lactogenesis II


The sudden change of hormones in the body after giving birth has a great impact on the production of milk.


As the placenta (the organ attached to the walls of the uterus, providing oxygen and nutrients to your baby) leaves the body, there's a shift among the hormones where estrogen and progesterone levels drop and prolactin rises, causing the production of breast milk to increase rapidly.


After the baby sucks the colostrum in two to three feeds, your breasts will then begin to flow with milk. Tiny drops of milk will appear on the nipples. Frequent sucking will help milk let down called the let-down reflex. This stage is called lactogenesis II which lasts up to the eighth day of postpartum.



Lactogenesis III


Frequent feeding or pumping maintains a healthy supply of breastmilk. It is important to empty your breast and let it be refilled naturally. Breastfeeding sends up the signal to the brain where the pituitary gland releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin.


Prolactin causes the milk-making glands to make milk whereas oxytocin helps release the milk. Feeding your child every two to three hours can help keep prolactin levels up and restore milk production. This is the third stage which lasts up to the end of breastfeeding.


Mother With Her Baby
Mother With Her Baby

Common Feeding Patterns


For Newborns


According to Frequency of Feeding, you should feed about eight to twelve times daily in the first few weeks of a baby's life.


It is recommended to feed on demand by recognizing the hunger call from your child. Since they cannot speak, they'll make it visible using other methods.


This may include:

  • Licking their hands

  • Sticking out their tongues

  • Moving their lips as they suck

  • Putting their head on your breast (while being held)

  • Squirming around when awake


You'll be able to understand your baby's way of expressing their needs with time. Try to recognize signs early and don't wait for them to start crying. While crying, they may refuse to take the breast or fall asleep before the feed is complete, and it will be hard for you to calm them down.



One to Three Months


Giving a gap of two to three hours between nursing is fine as long as your baby is gaining weight and doing well. Make sure your baby is fed at least seven to nine times per day.

From the age of two to four months, you should start building a routine for your baby and setting a time for their naps and feeding time.



Four to Six Months


At this time, you should be able to easily detect when your child is hungry and when they are not. As per your convenience, feed your child around six to eight times.

You can begin giving them solids after the age of six months, starting with two tablespoons.



Up to Twelve Months


By now your baby should be abiding by a consistent routine. Setting a routine is important for your baby and for yourself too. If you are still experiencing problems with your routine, consult a pediatrician.


By this time and age, your baby might only be feeding four times a day since their needs and nutrients are being fulfilled through other solid foods.



Remember Different Patterns


The above-written pattern might or might not be the case with your baby. It's just an example. Every baby and mother are different. For instance, a mother's large breast can provide more milk in a single feed, becoming a reason for one baby to take longer naps.


However other babies might like to cluster feed, feeding in intervals within a shorter period due to the different sizes or amounts of milk in the breast, which will affect how well and long a baby will sleep.


Some babies are just sleepy more than others and you might have to wake them up to feed them. Whatever the case is with your baby, we wish you luck and strength.


Mother Holding Her Baby
Mother Holding Her Baby

Tips For Breastfeeding Mothers


Stay Hydrated


You should try to keep your body hydrated while breastfeeding. Being dehydrated will cause problems in the flow of your milk production. It is recommended to drink one glass of water before and after you feed. Experts advise that a breastfeeding mother should take 128 ounces of water per day.


Avoiding sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol is best. Including nuts, watery fruits, vegetables, soups, vegetable juices, and cow's milk in your diet is recommended.



Increase your Calorie Count


The more often you breastfeed, the more calories your body burns. Therefore, doctors recommend increasing the number of calories in your diet. A normal human needs 2000 calories per day whereas a breastfeeding mother needs extra 500 calories.


This does not mean that you start eating all your favorite junk (a healthy amount is all right) but to have more frequent and healthy meals. For the best results (milk supply and health), you should add more veggies and fruits to your diet instead of unhealthy items.


Know about the Lactating Mother's Diet Here!



Avoid Exercising for a While


Many mothers become self-conscious and want to quickly get back to their original weight after pregnancy. However, it isn't wise to start immediately after giving birth, and it may be hard to do so while breastfeeding and dealing with postpartum care.


If you had a normal delivery with no complications, you should be able to begin exercising with a postpartum program in a few weeks. It's best, in any case, to check with your doctor before you start.


Make sure your main goal is healthy exercising and not extreme exercise to get rid of your extra weight as that can damage your body.



FAQs


1. What's the most important thing in breastfeeding?

The most important thing to do in breastfeeding is to start as earlier as possible. It will not only benefit your child but as well as you after postpartum.


2. What's the maximum time a child should be breastfeed?

You can breastfeed your child for more than 1 year. The longer you breastfeed your child the lesser the chances of your child to catch illnesses and viral infections. You child will grow much healthier with your milk instead of formula milks available in the markets.



Takeaway


Don’t become frustrated if your breast isn’t making sufficient milk at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey and give up. It takes time for your body to understand how much milk it needs to make. Through persistent sucking, your breast will start producing milk within a shorter period after delivery.


If your baby cries too much in the early days of breastfeeding do not try to switch to formula milk. Wait for two to three days and then try again. With time you will go from noticing droplets of milk on your nipples, gradually leading to a strong flow that will fill your baby’s tummy—and diapers too. Good luck!

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