Motherhood is never a linear journey, it is made up of many different aspects and riddled with a lot of ups and downs. Breastfeeding is one such aspect of motherhood that many young mothers don’t know too much about. It is a very organic and instinctual process, leading to new mothers not knowing what to do regarding this just after child-birth.
You may theoretically know a lot about it, but it is not until you start breastfeeding that you learn just how to have your breastfeeding routine. From the 1st – 7th of August, we celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week to fill in this information gap and spread awareness. When your lactation period starts, there are a lot of things to consider and understand, including the following:
- Breast milk requirements of babies
- Ways to increase breast milk supply
- Foods to increase breast milk supply
- Best breastfeeding positions
- Good breastfeeding practices
Let’s take a look at the above-mentioned points in detail to know the best breastfeeding tips and understand this complete guide.
Breast Milk Requirements Of Babies
Mothers are advised to start breastfeeding as soon as possible after a natural birth to provide their child with both, nutrition and immunity. But the question that many of you face is just how much breast milk is required by your baby. Will your breast milk supply be enough? All these and other similar questions are answered below for you as we explain the different stages of breast milk requirement.
Stage 1: Initial Stage
An interesting fact about breastfeeding is that WHO recommends that you should exclusively feed your baby breast milk for the first 6 months after birth. Since you are just starting in this phase, it is normal to not have a plentiful supply of milk. The first yellowish, thick milk is called Colostrum, and it is extremely important for your baby to have it.
With each baby having the stomach capacity of around 5-7ml and developing unique feeding habits, your breast milk will be produced accordingly. After all, your body produces only as much milk as is required by your child, it is a natural demand and supply equation.
Stage 2: Secondary Stage
Everyday baby development includes the growth of their stomach as well, leading to increased hunger in your child. In this stage of your lactation period, the breast milk is mature and thinner, with significant water content. In fact, your breast milk supply at this point is 90% water and 10% nutrients essential for energy and growth. Your breast milk production is raised to 500ml per day in this time period.
Stage 3: Maintenance Stage
By the time you reach this stage, your baby’s stomach capacity has increased so that they can consume 80-150ml of milk in one feeding. Your baby already has all the antibodies and immunity that he/she can get from breast milk and should start with other foods along with breastfeeding in this later stage. It is best to continue breastfeeding until 12 months, with other foods starting after 6 months.
To understand this in-depth, you can also read How Much Breast Milk Does A Baby Need?
Ways To Increase Breast Milk Supply
Many of you wonder if you are feeding your baby a sufficient amount of breast milk. Since it is a baby’s predominant source of nourishment in the early months, it is important to know if your baby is underfed and what can you do to resolve that. Here are the most efficient and simple ways to increase the production of breast milk:
Breastfeed as soon as possibleStart breastfeeding your baby as soon as possible after their birth without unnecessary delays. In the case of normal delivery, there are no delays. On the other hand, a c-section takes more time to heal and thus, more delay in breastfeeding.
Follow your routine strictlyOne of the best breastfeeding tips is to set a routine as soon as possible and strictly adhere to it. Any changes from the routine can adversely affect your breast milk production.
Feed on both breastsBoth of your breasts produce milk and both of them are meant to be used for this purpose. In fact, feeding on both breasts can increase milk production along with giving you respite when one of them is sore from the previous feeding.
Use a breast pumpAs we have established earlier, breast milk production is based on a simple equation of demand and supply, thus breast pumps are very helpful in increasing the milk supply. It is not just the working moms that can benefit from the pumps.
Make sure the baby has latched onIf your baby is not latching on correctly to your nipple, he/ she is not feeding properly either. This causes an inability to feed as much as the baby needs and in turn reduces milk production. So make sure that he/ she has latched on properly.
Eat a healthy dietYou need to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet at this time not only for the sake of your baby but for yourself as well. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your body needs around 650 calories more than usual and 500 calories more if they are also consuming other foods.
Take help from a Lactation ConsultantIf you are not too sure about what to do and are in need of help, asking for a professional consultation is the best way to go forward. Your doctor or a lactation consultant will guide you in the right direction.
There are ways to identify if your baby is feeding enough and then how to remedy the problem by increasing breast milk production. You can read more about it in How To Increase Your Breast Milk Supply?
Foods To Increase Breast Milk Production
In your lactation period, the foods that you eat not only influence your health but your baby’s health as well. Here are some lactation foods that increase breast milk production for mothers who struggle with breastfeeding their baby properly.
Whole GrainThe breastfeeding hormone, Prolactin is produced more when you consume whole grains like barley, brown rice, whole wheat etc. Since a lot of whole grains are essential parts of the Indian diet, you can easily find them in the market and consume them in various recipes.
FennelPopularly known as Saunf in Hindi, this plant has properties parallel to the estrogen hormone and is incredibly helpful in elevating breast milk production in your body. An added benefit of the food is its mouth-freshening taste, the reason it is also consumed by pregnant women suffering from morning sickness.
GarlicAside from having cancer-preventive properties and being good for your heart, garlic is also one of the many foods that promote the supply of breast milk. The lingering taste of garlic in breast milk also adds to babies feeding more.
Green and Leafy VegetablesYou may already know the healthy properties of green and leafy vegetables, but they become even more important foods to eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The rich iron and calcium content in them prevents anaemia and increases breast milk.
Cow’s MilkIf you are not intolerant to cow’s milk or lactose, consuming it is a very good way to increase the quantity of breast milk that your body produces during the lactation period. And this way, your baby also develops a tolerance for it as he/ she consumes it indirectly.
Raw PapayaWhile raw papaya comes under the list of foods to avoid in pregnancy, the same restrictions don’t apply to it during the breastfeeding period. It produces oxytocin in your body which further helps in breast milk production.
There are many other foods to increase your breast milk, to find out the extended list of them, read 11 Food To Increase Breast Milk.
Best Breastfeeding Positions
Breastfeeding, no matter how instinctual or natural it may seem on others, can be a bit of a struggle when you are a new mother. While the way you breastfeed depends on the relationship between a mother and her child, there are some universally recognised breastfeeding positions for a newborn that are popularly used.
Cradle HoldOne of the most popular positions, where you hold the baby in a way that cradles their head in the inner elbow of your hand. If you are feeding on the right breast, then the head is cradled in the right arm. Recline on your bed and use extra pillows for support.
Cross- Cradle HoldIn this breastfeeding position for a newborn, the palm of the hand that cradles your baby’s head is the one opposite of the breast he/she is feeding on. One of our breastfeeding tips is to switch to this position so that it is easier to get a bottle-feeding routine later on.
Laid BackAs the name suggests, this is one of the most relaxed and comfortable breastfeeding positions out of the many listed here. Here, you recline at 45 degrees and hug your baby in a manner that has their mouth near your nipple so that they can easily latch on.
Football HoldIt is easier to use this breastfeeding position if you are sitting up. Cradle your baby in your arms and support their head in reaching your nipple with your palm. If you are holding them in your right arm, then they should feed on the right breast and vice-versa.
Koala HoldThis a position that is best used when there is no comfortable way of sitting down comfortably for breastfeeding. In this upright position, straddle your baby over your thigh and sit them up with the support of your hand so that their mouth reaches your breast.
Side-LyingAs the name suggests, this position requires you to lie down side-ways and lay your baby facing towards you. Support their head with your hand and help them reach your nipple. You can use pillows to support your back in this position.
Twin HoldMothers of twins usually feed them one by one but often enough, both children get hungry at the same time and need to be fed at the same time. The twin hold is a football hold in both the arms so that both babies can feed on both of your breasts.
To further understand the details and benefits of each position along with getting to know the caesarean hold, read more about 8 Best Breastfeeding Positions.
Good Breastfeeding Practices
Breastfeeding is an essential part of a woman’s journey of motherhood along with a baby’s growth and development. It is therefore important to know the correct practices and avoid any breastfeeding mistakes. Knowing the right information is better for both you and your baby’s health. Here are some great practices you should take into consideration:
Ask for help when neededHaving a baby and being responsible for all their needs, especially breastfeeding, can be difficult at times. Ask for help in juggling other family or work responsibilities. And if you are having trouble with the feedings, consult with your doctor rather than bearing with any problem for too long.
Pay attention to your breastsIt is normal to feel some pain or soreness from breastfeeding, but it is not normal for the pain to be severe and persistent. Prolonged ache and discomfort can be signs of other medical problems and should not be ignored. Bring any abnormalities in your breastfeeding to your doctor’s attention.
Have a flexible scheduleIt is obvious that you can’t strictly stick to one schedule at all costs, it is practically impossible and highly inconvenient. While keeping a schedule is good, you also need to take into account the changing dynamics of your baby’s hunger and needs. Have a schedule that can accommodate both you and your baby’s needs together.
Don’t introduce the bottle too soonBreastfeeding is not just meant for your baby’s nourishment, it is also a way for a mother and child to bond in a natural manner. Introducing a bottle or pacifier too soon can not only stunt their hunger, but it can also hinder the growing bond between you two.
Wear the correct brasThere are a lot of changes in pregnancy and breastfeeding, one of them being the change in the size of your breasts. You need to be up-to-date with your changing breast size to wear the correct size bras comfortably. The right size nursing bras make the whole process easier and support your breasts very nicely.
There is a lot of well-meaning advice that is also given to you at this time from friends or relatives. Make sure that they are correct and not some popular breastfeeding myths that can mislead you.
Keeping that in mind, here are some Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding:
Q. Can you breastfeed while being sick?
It is safe for both the child and the mother to breastfeed while being sick from any of the common illnesses. Any cold, cough or flu cannot be transmitted to your child via breast milk. In fact, your breast milk has antibodies that prevent your child from getting infected from these diseases. But if you are worried about it too much, you can do the following to further protect your child from your sickness:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while breastfeeding if you have a cold or flu.
- Pump your milk and take help from a caregiver to feed your child if he/ she is already introduced to a bottle.
- Keep your hands clean and avoid touching your baby with germ containing hands.
- Use sanitizers and disinfectants on various surfaces and items that you touch frequently.
Q. Can you take medications while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding period is not as sensitive to medication as pregnancy is. You can usually take medication while breastfeeding but it is best to consult with your doctor first before taking any. Some medicines also come with warnings for pregnant or breastfeeding women, make sure to pay attention to them.
Your breast milk is a very healthy and entirely sufficient source of nutrition in the early months of your child’ life. Breastfeeding is another beautiful and empowering aspect of your journey of motherhood. It is also the foundation of the bond that any mother builds with her child after they are born. We hope that this guide along with the numerous breastfeeding tips is helpful to you in every way when you are beginning to breastfeed.