Breastfeeding is a critical moment for both mother and the child. The warmth of the mother's breast and their touch create a meaningful bond between mother and child lifelong. Hence, every woman must start breastfeeding immediately after delivery. It is a scientifically proven fact that during the first two days, the colostrum (breast milk), which is yellow, is extremely healthy for the child. Further, proper lactation starts on the third day once the baby learns to start sucking.
Feeding breast milk requires patience, and for new mothers, it might take some time to learn the techniques. One should ensure that the child is lying on the side, facing the mother, and the bellies of both the baby and mother are touching. Do not lean towards the infant but use the free hand around the nipple and connect it to the child. Once they open the mouth, scoop your breast into their mouth and place the baby's jaw firmly placed against the breast. Additionally, the mother should ensure that the baby latches on to the breast as this will make her comfortable and ensure minimum discomfort.
Breast milk is essential for a baby because it is hygienic and has no infection. The milk temperature is as per our body temperature, making it easier for the infant to digest. As the baby grows, milk constituents change according to their need. The milk consists of anti-allergens, thereby reducing the chances of infection reduce, while also helping to avoid stomach problems and indigestion. It is a proven fact that a mother’s milk can lower the risks of serious diseases or health problems once the child grows.
The mother, too, benefits from feeding the baby as it helps in the contraction of the uterus and even reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. During the breastfeeding process, calories are used, allowing the mother to lose the weight gained during pregnancy. A mother's milk is enough for an infant’s nourishment until they are six months old as it provides them with adequate nutrition. Once they complete six months, supplements will be needed for the baby’s growth along with breast milk.
All new mothers should start pumping a month before resuming work, which will help both the child and the mother get used to the process. The infant will learn to be fed from a bottle and consume milk without the mother's touch. One can opt for an electric, battery-powered, or manual pump, depending on convenience and budget.
Remember that breastfeeding may exhaust the mother after a few months; hence, they should take adequate rest or sleep whenever possible. In the initial few months, due to the fast digestion of milk, babies tend to wake up at night, which means that their mothers might suffer from a disturbed sleep cycle. But it is highly recommended that this challenge should not prevent the mother from breastfeeding her baby as the benefits are numerous especially for the baby’s long-term health and wellness.
Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology