The following information is kindly provided by MAM Baby.
It is World Breastfeeding Week in the first week of August and so we are dedicating this month’s article to this important topic for mothers and babies.
Breastfeeding is a unique experience for mothers and their babies. So much intimacy. So much affection. So much love. And so many uncertainties. Will it work straight away? How long and how often should you breastfeed? And what if difficulties arise?
The most important thing to remember is that breastmilk is best for babies. Nevertheless, breastfeeding is a very personal affair. The need alone – of mother and baby – determines whether baby is fully or partly breastfed and how long breastfeeding continues, if at all.
Size doesn’t matter
Nature really has thought of everything: no matter how big or small breasts are or what shape they are – the milk produced will always be enough. Breasts are not ‘warehouses’ in which provisions are stored. Baby’s regular sucking stimulates production and flow. And as long as baby is sucking, there is enough to drink. Conclusion: Forget worrying. Build up some self-confidence instead – because this combined with joyful anticipation is the very best training for breast-feeding.
Birth & Breastfeeding
Love at first sight
Newborns are incredibly attentive. Shortly after birth, when they are snuggled in their mother’s (or father’s) arms, they search with all their senses – for the smell, the voice, the eye contact, the touch. This initial bonding is the basis for the relationship that develops between parents and babies. If, for medical reasons (for example after a caesarean delivery) a short break is necessary, mother and baby can catch-up on bonding, just as intensely, a little later on. Fathers or close relatives or friends can be there as the first loving contact.
Relax, search, nurse
For the first few hours, a baby’s sucking reflex is very strong. Having hardly relaxed from birth, he is already looking for the breasts. These are full because straight after the placenta is delivered the milk-producing hormone prolactin gets down to serious business. Important for the first nursing session:
Nurse the baby on both breasts so that he gets used to the changing straight away. Lots of quiet, no pressure to succeed. Sometimes a little more getting to know each other is necessary and this is OK. If immediate nursing is not possible for medical reasons, the milk should be expressed (electronically or manually), so that production is not stalled. Midwifes and lactation consultants at the hospital are happy to help, give you self-confidence and help you relax.
First Days at Home
Little breast-feeding experts with style
In principal, breastfeeding functions according to the theory of supply and demand – the more is consumed, the more is produced. This is why breast-feeding does not follow a timetable. It responds to demand and then the milk production will work to match baby’s requirements.
- Baby opens his mouth and slightly stretches his tongue out.
- Baby starts to search or suck his fingers.
- Now, before the first cry, is the ideal time for latch-on because both are still calm.
- Sometimes babies sleep through their own rhythm, which results in uncomfortably full breasts. It is OK to gently wake baby – at the same time the nappy could also be changed.
- The nutritional requirements quickly increase during growth spurts; both breasts will be emptied completely – a signal that the body immediately reacts to by increasing production.
Very important: every infant is unique. Some drink quickly and often, others more slowly and relaxed. Greedy ones need their audible burp; babies that take it easy burp less often. The individual style is an expression of personality and should not be changed.
Latch-on – a question of positioning
A hungry baby’s sucking reflex is initiated when a breast (or a finger) is felt on the mouth or a cheek. Baby then looks for the nipple and holds it tightly between the upper and lower jaw. Repeated, wave-like tongue movements strip milk from the breast – and simultaneously stimulate the production of new supplies. For full details on latch-on together with pictures please refer to the MAM Baby breastfeeding brochure at www.mambaby.com/about-mam/mam-brochures/.
Nursing positions – sensible diversity
The more positions mother and baby have mastered, the easier and more relaxed daily life becomes. For the different positions such as cross-cradle hold, cradle hold or clutch hold together with pictures please refer to their breastfeeding brochure at: www.mambaby.com/about-mam/mam-brochures/.
Healthy eating for nursing mums
Healthy and ample nutrition – yes, of course! Breastfeeding and diets don’t go together at all. However, the old saying ‘eating for two’ is passé. Nursing mums only need about 285 to a maximum of 635 calories more per day than mums who don’t – a generous slice of bread and cheese is enough.
Other foods that are good for you
- Calcium: in green vegetables, black sesame (this has 8x as much calcium as milk – 2 tbsp daily are ideal), soya products, tofu, figs or dates.
- Iodine: in freshwater fish and iodised salt.
- Protein: in eggs, meat, wheat and also in pulses and dairy products but these should be avoided if they cause wind.
- Fat: only high quality such as cold-pressed oils.
- Fruit & vegetables: raw and cooked but citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers as well as some juices are often not well accepted by babies because it hurts when they come out again.
- Snacks: having something small between meals will keep your energy levels up. Try things like cheese, yoghurt, wholemeal bread, muesli or salad.
- Liquids: very important! But go easy on the alcohol and coffee (maximum one small glass/cup a day, ideally straight after breastfeeding, so that the body has time to metabolise it). Tea restrictions: sage and peppermint can reduce milk production. ‘Milk turbos’, which encourage production: apricot compote, strong beef or chicken soup with egg, chopped pumpkin seeds with honey.
What babies don’t like because it causes wind, hurts or tastes bad – ‘suspicious culprits’ are cabbage, onions, garlic, citrus fruits and also chocolate, nuts and fizzy drinks – it’s easy to notice: simply eat more or less of the suspicious food and watch for baby’s reaction when they come to feed.
Expressing to feed
A bit of independence
There are many reasons to express milk:
- To relieve very full, firm breasts
- A longer nursing break to care for sore nipples
- To stimulate milk production
- For an additional supply of milk
- To partly or completely switch to bottle-feeding – to become more flexible or to involve your partner more
For babies that already have a breast-feeding routine, switching to a bottle is usually very easy. The touch of the bottle teat initiates the same sucking reflex as the breast tip, and if the bottle feels nice and is offered as lovingly as the breast, the milk given this way is most welcome.
Finally – Tips for expressed milk:
Expressed milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours or in the freezer for up to three months – defrost either in the fridge over-night or carefully in a water bath
- Warm the milk to a maximum of 37 degrees Celsius
- Do not put the milk in the microwave to heat, otherwise micronutrients and important immunological properties will be lost
- Leftover breast-milk cannot be reserved – but can be added to baby’s bath
- A healthy baby’s bottles can be put on the top dishwasher rack for cleaning
- Washing by hand: please only use the special baby bottle brush
- All of the usual methods are suitable for sterilising
If you have any unanswered questions related to this topic then please consult your healthcare practitioner.
Big thanks to MAM Cyprus for this informative article! To download their digital pamphlet on breastfeeding, please click here and for more details on their breastfeeding products, please visit the MAM Baby Website. Any other queries can be directed to their Facebook page here.