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Breast Feeding

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Breast Feeding

Breast feeding offers many benefits to your baby. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients to help your infant grow into a strong and healthy toddler. Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect your infant against some common childhood illnesses and infections. It may also help your health. Certain types of cancer may occur less often in mothers who have breastfed their babies.

Women who don’t have health problems should try to give their babies breast milk for at least the first six months of life. There are some cases when it’s better not to breast feed. If you have HIV or active tuberculosis, you should not breast feed because you could give the infection to your baby. Certain medicines, illegal drugs, and alcohol can also pass through the breast milk and cause harm to your baby.

Soaps and harsh washing or drying of the breasts and nipples can cause extreme dryness and cracking and should be avoided. Some experts recommend leaving milk on the nipple after feeding and allowing it to dry and protect the nipple. Keeping the nipples dry is important to prevent cracking and infection. For cracked nipples, apply 100% lanolin after feedings.

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Comfortable breastfeeding requires correct positioning of the baby at the breast. Some guidelines are given to help you develop your own technique. Observing someone else breastfeed or practicing with an experienced nursing mother or a lactation consultant may also help.


In general, breastfeeding women should eat a well-balanced, varied diet. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is not a substitute for healthy eating. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, calcium-rich dairy products, and protein-rich foods (meats, fish, and legumes). Make sure you are getting enough calories. You should be eating 5 times of food that have plenty of calcium every day, including milk.
Breastfeeding mothers need enough fluids to stay hydrated. Most experts recommend drinking enough fluids to satisfy thirst. Eight 8-ounce servings (64 ounces) of fluid such as water, milk, juice, or soup is a good goal. Breastfeeding mothers can safely eat any foods they like. Some foods may flavor the breast milk, but babies rarely react to this. If your baby is fussy after you eat a certain food or spice, try avoiding that food for a while, then try it again later to see if it is a problem.

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This is just a guide. You may need to eat more than this based on your size and activity level.
During every feeding, the makeup of your breast milk changes. At the beginning of the feeding, the milk is bluish and contains lactose and proteins, but little fat. Such milk is called foremilk. The end of the feeding produces hindmilk. The hindmilk contains more fat, the main source of energy for your baby.Breastfeeding or pumping on a regular schedule, along with drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy, will help you maintain your supply of breast milk. The first step is to establish your milk supply and breastfeeding skills before returning to work. Your baby also needs time to develop his or her breastfeeding skills.

The importance of breastfeeding

We are all aware of how important it is for babies to be breastfed. In fact, the sooner you start breastfeeding your newborn (preferably within an hour of delivering the baby in normal circumstances), the better it will be for both of you. Though it takes some time for the mature milk to flow in, the breasts initially produce a substance called colostrums (a yellowish thick fluid) in the milk that protects your baby from infections. Breastfeeding requires a lot of patience, so do not get distressed if it takes some time for you to adjust to this exercise.

Feeding basics

It is advisable to feed your baby as often as possible, say every two hours or so as breast milk digests quite fast. The more you nurse, the more milk you will produce. You should try to nurse at least 10 to 12 times a day, better still whenever your baby shows signs of hunger, like increased alertness or mouthing. Crying too, is a sign of hunger, so make sure you feed the baby before he starts to cry. As your baby will practically sleep through the day in the initial days, you will need to gently wake him at regular intervals to feed him. Once he starts sleeping for longer periods at night, you can follow a routine of feeding every two to three hours or even less at night.

How to nurse

Breastfeeding your newborn is an art that you will acquire with time, as it demands a lot of patience and practice. If you feel a little nervy, you can always talk to your nurse, doctor or friends who have already nursed, to guide you as to how to go about it. One thing that you must ensure before giving the feed is, to be in a comfortable position, whether sitting or lying, as feeding can take up to 45 minutes or so, with you having to remain in that position for some time.
The best way to feed your baby (whether breast or bottle-feeding) is to first choose a calm room, away from any noise or distraction. Make yourself comfortable along with the baby in a chair or on a couch with plenty of cushions around for support. You can keep the lights dim and even hum a soft song or play some light music to help your baby relax and enjoy his meal.

Bottle-feeding basics

Bottle-feeding can be as much an intimate experience as breastfeeding. The advantage of this is that you can monitor the exact amount of milk your baby is taking in. Besides, other members in the family can also experience the joy of creating a special bond with the baby. For a newborn, you can keep about half a dozen of small 4-ounce bottles and change to 8-ounce bottles once his appetite increases, say between three to four months. Always use a fresh bottle when you start feeding, never refrigerate the left over, or reheat a previously warmed bottle

How to bottle-feed:

Always check the temperature of the milk before giving it to your baby. You can do this by putting a few drops of milk on to your wrist. Ensure that it’s warm but not hot. Keep the top ring of the bottle a little loose to allow some air to get in. This would help keep the nipple erect, or else continuous sucking can create negative pressure and make the nipple collapse or de-shaped. Put a bib (preferably a plastic-backed bib) around your baby’s neck to protect his clothes, as babies tend to spit out a little milk at times. Stroke your baby’s cheek a little, so that he automatically opens his mouth.
Keep the bottle at an angle of 45 degrees so that the neck of the bottle is full of milk and prevents air bubbles. Put the bottle into your baby’s mouth. Hold the bottle steady and keep adjusting the angle so that the top of the bottle is always full of milk. If you need to burp him in between, slip your finger into the side of his mouth to break his suction and remove the bottle.

Burping your infant

Whenever you feed your baby, irrespective of whether breast feeding or bottle- feeding, your baby will tend to take some air along with it. This can get accumulated in his stomach and cause pain or discomfort, and even lead him to refuse to take any more milk. Thus, it’s important to expel the air in between while giving the feed. However, do not force to disrupt the feed if your baby is not too willing to let go of the nipple. If breastfeeding, you can wait till your baby finishes with one breast. In case of bottle-feeding, you should burp him more often, say between every ounce or so.

Burping your infant

On your shoulder: Let your baby rest his head on your shoulder, with his face away from your neck. Supporting his bottom with one hand, use the other to gently pat or rub his back.
Sitting up: Put your baby in a sitting position on your lap. Use one hand to support his chest and gently rub or pat his back with the other. Across your knees: Lay your baby down with his stomach resting on one knee and his chest on the other. He should face away from you with nothing obstructing in front of his mouth. Gently rub or pat his back with your hands.