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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

There are several benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby. Find out which ones and also tips from a midwife for successful breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding


For many mums breastfeeding is a natural choice. It's not only good for your baby, but also for you. 

Six benefits of breastfeeding for your baby

  1. The composition of breast milk is exactly adapted to what your baby needs. The first milk you produce is called colostrum – a thick creamy substance full of antibodies and proteins and designed to get baby's bowel moving for the first time.
  2. Breastmilk offers good protection against allergies. Using cow's milk can cause allergies, especially if used in the first six months of baby’s life.
  3. Breastmilk is clean, free from bacteria and protects against infections
  4. A child who feeds on breast milk rarely suffers from diarrhoea or constipation.
  5. Sucking at the breast is good for the development of baby’s jaw, teeth and the facial muscles used later for speech.
  6. A child who is breastfed is less likely to be overweight later in life.

Six benefits of breastfeeding for you as a mum


  1. Breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract after delivery.
  2. There is evidence that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis later in life.
  3. Breastfeeding mums quickly lose excess pregnancy pounds.
  4. Breast milk is always at the right temperature.
  5. Once breastfeeding well underway, it is always available.
  6. Breast milk is free!

Tips from the midwife for successful breastfeeding

A good latch

Good breastfeeding starts with a good latch. If you can teach your child the right way to suckle, you're less likely to suffer from sore nipples or breast infection. Try to feed your baby right away, within the first hour after birth and make sure she takes the entire areola into her mouth, not just the nipple. Babies are always really hungry in the first days, but to get them started on your own milk, it is important that you start quickly.

Relax

Breastfeeding induces a hormone called oxytocin which stimulates the milk to be let down. This pulls the muscles around the mammary glands together to make the milk flow in the milk ducts. There is a direct link between relaxation and the release of oxytocin. The calmer you are, the faster the hormone will be released. And the hormone itself then ensures that you (and therefore your baby) feel relaxed.

Milk boost

To help milk production going, try to drink tea with herb plant extracts that support milk production and have a calming and harmonizing effect. Throughout the breastfeeding period you should aim for between one and three cups a day.

Adjust your diet too

Now that your baby is born, you probably want to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. But while you are breastfeeding is not a good time to go on a diet. You will often be hungry, a sign that you need more calories. Try to eat small nutritious meals, with healthy snacks in between. This will keep your hunger at bay and your energy level high. What you eat affects the milk you produce, so avoid parsley, sage and citrus fruits, because they inhibit milk production. Sweet and bitter seeds like aniseed and almonds, on the other hand, promote milk. Cabbage, onions, leeks, citrus and legumes can make baby gassy and uncomfortable, and even products that come directly from the refrigerator, such as ice or cold yogurt, can cause baby cramps.

Boost your natural defences

During the postnatal period, especially if you are breastfeeding, it is wise to take a dietary supplement, preferably rich in vitamin C. A supplement based on blackthorn juice gives the body strength and energy and helps it to rebuild.

Follow the needs of your baby during the first weeks

It is now agreed that feeding on demand is good for the child in the early weeks, and once again here, breastfeeding works best. Milk production goes up when your child takes the breast more often, because the milk ducts are stimulated again and again as baby suckles. So don’t worry if your baby wants to drink often. For babies in the first few weeks of life, drinking every two to three hours is quite usual, but it could be as often as every hour and a half. Your child needs to develop his own routine, so don’t worry if the rhythm doesn’t settle down right away. Frequent closeness at the breast also offers you the chance to get to know your child’s own distinctive way of doing things.

Switch to fixed feeding times after four to six weeks

After several weeks of breastfeeding you can settle into a routine of more or less fixed feeding times. This has great advantages for your baby, yourself and for other family members. First, your child will settle more easily, because a rhythm provides soothing predictability. You will know when you are off duty, without having to be constantly listening out with one ear for baby noises. Your partner and older children will also enjoy getting your full attention once again, without the baby always getting priority at the first cry.

Expect ‘rule days’

Baby will often get unexplained cravings for much more milk around the 10th day, after about six weeks and after three months. We call these 'rule days’ and you can expect on these days that baby will want to feed much more often, sometimes every two hours. In most cases routine returns within a few days and you will once again see a satisfied baby after feeding.

Cracked nipples

Although not a serious condition, cracked nipples are painful and can make breastfeeding difficult. Prevention is better than cure. After each feeding rub into your nipple a calendula ointment which should be wiped off with a damp washcloth before the next feed.

Three golden tips to avoid cracked nipples


  1. Sore nipples usually start because is not being held in the right position to latch on well. Let your midwife guide you when you start breastfeeding.
  2. Make sure that you dry nipples well after feeding. Wipe the last drop of milk gently over your nipples and then let them air dry.
  3. If you use pads, moisten them first before taking them off your breasts. If they are dry, they can stick to your nipple and pull skin away when removed.

Breast Inflammation

One of the first symptoms of mastitis is a hard, painful area in your breast, caused by a clogged milk duct. If you feel feverish and miserable and one of your breasts is sore assume that you could have incipient mastitis. Resist in any case, the temptation to keep up with breastfeeding. Try to keep breastfeeding, as milk production will continue and expressing milk is even more painful than feeding from the breast.

Four tips to ease the symptoms of a breast infection

  1. Shower the breasts before you feed, encouraging the milk to flow better. While in the shower, gently massage hard red spots in your breast.
  2. Feed your baby more often. If necessary, wake baby up to feed before your chest gets tight. Encourage the milk to flow by first offering the less painful breast, giving the painful breast as soon as you are able.
  3. After each feeding, make a yoghurt compress by spreading thick yoghurt in a washcloth and pressing it to your breast for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Call the doctor or midwife if you have more than two days of fever.
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