According to the WHO, only about 41% of infants aged 0-6 months are exclusively breastfed and over 820,000 children could be saved yearly if all children aged 0-23months were optimally breastfed. Breastfeeding is the best source of nourishment for infants and young children and the organization aims to increase the worldwide rate of exclusive breastfeeding to at least 50% by 2025.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
To the child: Breastfeeding contains all the nutritional requirements in the first six months of life in all the right proportions and also changes according to the baby’s needs, especially in the first month of life. Colostrum which is the first milk contains high protein, low sugar, Immunoglobin A as well as other antibodies that helps the baby’s digestive tract develop and also help to protect the infant from common childhood illnesses. Breastfeeding has also been linked to higher intelligence quotient in some studies and also helps to promote healthy weight and reduce childhood obesity. Exclusive breastfeeding lowers the risk of asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea.
To the Mother: Breastfeeding promotes mother-to-child bonding and it has been postulated to reduce postpartum depression in some studies. It also reduces the risk of some cancers (breast and ovarian), osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and high blood pressure. Breastfeeding also helps to return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy state by releasing the hormone oxytocin which contracts the uterus. Breastfeeding has also been found to burn extra calories and helps to lose pregnancy weight.
Breastfeeding tips for Nursing Mothers
As a nursing mother, your breasts automatically work to produce milk for your baby. This involves making use of a lot of fluids in your body. Staying hydrated makes the milk-making process and feeding cycle seamless for you and your child, as becoming dehydrated leaves you feeling weak and unable to carry out the task.
Breast engorgement is the development of hard and swollen breasts, as a result of the accumulation of excess breast milk in the ducts. This makes breastfeeding harder and more painful for you as a mother. The solution here is to breastfeed your baby or pump frequently to ensure that no excess milk is left in the ducts. This would help to ease the engorgement and bring relief. You can also massage your breasts while nursing and when it’s time to wean your baby off breast milk, do it gradually.
Leaking is Natural
As a nursing mother, it is normal for your body to overproduce milk in the first few weeks while trying to determine how much milk your body needs. This often comes with a lot of leaking. Once your body has adjusted to making the right amount of milk your baby requires, this should stop. Until this happens, you can make use of breast pads to avoid staining your clothes. These pads should however be changed regularly to avoid germs.
Ensure your baby latches properly
A proper latch on the breast will have your baby fall into a rhythmic suck, swallow, and breath pattern or sucking. Anything other than this can be classified as improper latching. The consequence of this is that the baby will not be able to get the milk she needs, and your breasts would not be stimulated to produce more milk.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling at any point in your breastfeeding journey, please seek help. You can get professional advice from your doctor especially lactation consultants, other mums, online articles from credible sources, etc. However, if you choose the latter source, verify all info from the appropriate medical practitioner.
Being a nursing mother is not easy, but having a healthy and bouncy baby is absolutely worth it. As you continue this journey to motherhood, we will be rooting for you on the sidelines and ready to provide access to the necessary care you need on the journey!