Top Tips for Mothers Choosing to Breastfeed
Becoming a mother can bring on a wealth of questions and concerns, including how to feed your child. Mothers do have options for this, and breastfeeding is one of them. Luckily, there are many resources out there for a mother to make informed decisions for her child. Since August is National Breastfeeding Month, we wanted to provide mothers with a list of benefits that come from breastfeeding their newborns! First of all, breast milk can:
- Decrease the incidences of SIDS
- Decrease respiratory infections
- Decrease childhood obesity
- Decrease Type 2 diabetes
- Decrease the incidence in maternal breast cancer
In addition, women may be encouraged by their healthcare provider to attend breastfeeding education classes prior to the birth of their child. Local breastfeeding centers, hospitals, and Lactation Consultants offer these classes to prepare you for a successful breastfeeding journey.
What’s in Breast Milk?
Before getting into the best practices, lets learn a bit about what makes up breast milk. The first bit of milk that will come in is called colostrum. Colostrom is small and mighty; it contains more protein, less carbohydrates and less fat than mature milk. Colostrom also is rich in IgA (Immunoglobulin A) which protects the gut and helps establish normal gut flora for long term benefits.
The more frequently you feed, the sooner the transitional milk will come in. When you breastfeed, between days 2-4 your baby will get between 10-14 ml of breast milk per feeding. After day 5, your baby will take anywhere between 18-28 ml per feeding. Your baby’s belly starts out the size of a marble, perfectly suited for the small but mighty amounts of colostrum. As your baby continues to feed, the baby’s stomach enlarges to accommodate your increasing milk supply. This continues on through the first two weeks, and by then your baby will be getting around 100 ml or between 3-4 ounces per feeding! After week 4, your mature milk will be rich in nutrients and antibodies. This stays fairly consistent day to day and feeding to feeding. This is one thing that makes your body amazing; it will make what is needed at each stage.
Beneficial Components of Human Breast Milk Include:
- Immune boosting white blood cells and stem cells
- Amino acids
- Growth factors
- Vitamins and minerals
- Long chain fatty acids
- Micro RNA’s
6 Breastfeeding Tips to Remember
For those mama’s who want to breast feed, here are the keys for birth and beyond to achieve a successful breastfeeding career.
- Breastfeed your baby within the first hour
- Make time for uninterrupted skin to skin contact between mom and baby shortly after birth
- Baby has been held for nine months in your uterus. Your heart rate regulates their heart rate; your breathing regulates their breathing; your temperature rises to keep your baby warm; your smell is as familiar as the amniotic fluid; they know your voice, they are comforted and safe in your arms.
- Express your breast milk as early as you can. This helps stimulate the production of breast milk by bringing it into the milk ducts.
- Work on latching efficiently and comfortably; this is called an “Asymmetric latch.”
- Angle your nipple towards the baby’s nose. Position baby as snug to mom as possible.
- Use one hand to gently compress the breast and the other to gently guide your baby by their shoulder blades. Support their neck so their chin hits your breast first.
- Wait for a wide gape to achieve a deep latch (You do not want to see much of your areola after the baby is latched). Mother’s nipple should be in the back of baby’s mouth as the suck reflex is located near the roof of their mouth, close to their soft palate.
- Look for good jaw motion and listen for audible swallows. If you suspect a shallow latch (i.e. smacking, dimpling, or pinching) break the babies suction and try again until a deep latch is achieved.
- This should not be painful, if so, check to see if the latch is shallow.
- Frequent small feedings help prevent excessive weight loss and jaundice.
- You can never feed too often.
- Your baby’s belly is the size of a small marble which can only hold approximately a teaspoon of colostrum per feeding.
- In the first 2 days, your baby will only need 1-2 oz total.
- Feed your baby at least 8-10 times a day and when the baby shows you feeding cues.
- Up to 10% of infant weight loss is normal.
- By day 5 your milk will begin transitioning and your baby will start gaining weight. The goal is to be back to birth weight by 2 weeks of life.
- Be patient!
- If your baby was born early, is a small baby, was born via C-section, or needed a little extra help at birth, allow a bit more time beyond the first hour of life for that first latch to be successful.
Not only is the content of your breast milk beneficial, the closeness and bonding you experience with your baby facilitates their neurological development and stimulates your “happy hormones”. All providers at CHI Health want you to feel supported and empowered to feed your baby. We are here for you every step of the way! If you have more questions, reach out to one of our Women’s Health providers.
Happy National Breastfeeding Month!
Shay Armstrong, MSN, CNM is a Midwife with CHI Health.