About Breast feeding

Vital information about Breast feeding

Yes. Breastfeeding immediately (within one hour) after the infant's birth can help expel the placenta and reduce blood loss. Breastfeeding soon after the infant's birth also keeps the infant warmer and sets the stage for healthy breastfeeding in the coming weeks and months. Colostrum, the yellowish fluid produced by the mother's breasts during the first day after the childbirth, provides the infant with essential immunities and acts as a natural laxative to help the infant with the first bowel movements. Early breastfeeding helps milk come in more rapidly too.

NA woman should breastfeed her baby on demand, day and night. Normally, healthy babies breast feed about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. An infant's stomach is small and needs to be refilled often sometimes more than every 2 hours in the early days and weeks of life. A woman should watch for signs that her baby is hungry. When hungry, the baby will turn towards the mother with an open mouth as if to start nursing. Other signs are that the baby is more alert or chews and sucks on hands or fingers.

It is normal for baby's breast feeding patterns to vary. Feeding can be closer together at certain times of the day and further apart at other times. When the baby has a growth spurt, demand for feeding will increase. Growth spurts usually occur when the baby is about three weeks, six weeks, three months and six months old.

During the first month or two of an infant's life, as the baby develops feeding skills, most breast feeding sessions take from 20 to 50 minutes. A woman should feed on one breast until the baby stops suckling, the baby's hands are no longer in fists, and the woman does not hear any swallowing. When these signs occur, the woman should burp the baby and offer the baby her other breast. Generally , a woman should feed from both breasts during each session, allowing her baby to finish one breast first, and then switching to the other (unless the baby does not want to feed from the second breast).

A baby is latching on correctly when the baby's mouth is wide open,the nose is nearly touching the mother's breast , more of the dark skin around the mother's nipple can be seen above the baby's mouth than below, and the baby takes long , deep sucks. The woman will also hear her baby swallowing , quickly at first and then more slowly as appetite is satisfied. If the latch is uncomfortable or painful , the woman should gently place her finger in the baby's mouth between the gums, to detach the baby and try again. Her nipple should be directed towards the upper back of the baby's mouth . Using pillows to raise the baby to breast height makes proper latching on easier. A woman also can help her baby latch on correctly by positioning the baby so that she holds the baby's body close to her body.

The baby's whole body is supported , not just the neck and shoulders.

The baby's head and body are in straight line.

The baby faces the breast and the baby's nose is opposite the nipple.

When a baby is six months old, breast milk alone no longer satisfies all of the baby's nutritional needs. At this time parents should begin complementary feeding by gradually giving their baby other foods in addition to breast milk, starting with such foods as ground meat or milk products and then adding a variety of foods from the basic food groups including fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and eggs.

Complementary feeding -giving breast milk and other food should be practiced from the time the baby is six months old through two years or beyond. As the child grows, the types of non breast milk foods can change from semi-solid to solid foods and the variety can increase. A mother should continue frequent , on demand breast feeding and give her baby additional foods in increasing amounts after a breast feeding session.



Human milk alone can fully satisfy the nutritional needs of a baby for the first six months of life. Infants do not need any other foods or liquids in addition to breast milk , not even water during their first six months. Human milk contains all the nutrients and immunities that a baby needs. It is also the easiest food for a baby to digest and promotes growth better than any substitute.

A woman has enough milk and her baby is getting enough if the baby is gaining weight steadily. A baby should gain 140 to 245 grams ( about 5- ounces) per week after the fourth day of life.To help keep track of growth, the mother should enroll the bay in a growth monitoring program in the community, if available or at a local health facility.

Another way to determine if her baby is getting enough milk is to note her baby's daily urination and bowel movements. By the second day after the childbirth, the baby should begin to have at least three bowel movements each day. Once breast milk comes in fully, usually by the fourth day after childbirth, the bay should begin to have at least six urination each day.

Nearly all women can produce enough milk for their babies. The more breast milk a baby suckles, the more milk will produce. Frequent feedings increase milk supply. To support milk production, breastfeeding mothers should avoid dehydration by drinking adequate amounts of water and other fluids. If a woman is not producing enough breast milk, the problem may be that she is not nursing often and exclusively (that is breast feeding without providing any other foods, not even water). If she is not already doing so, a woman can offer her baby the second breast once the baby seems satisfied with feeding from the first breast. The mother can also try switching sides more times throughout each feeding session , or switching every time the baby falls asleep or loses interest.

Expressing milk by pump or hand either immediately after or between nursing sessions will remove milk from the breasts which speeds milk production and helps to increase a woman's milk supply. This milk can be stored for use when the mother is away from her baby and cannot breast feed. Expressed breast milk can be stored upto 8 hours without refrigeration in a cool place and as long as 24 hours when refrigerated.

A woman does not have to avoid any particular foods during breastfeeding. Eating a variety of fresh and healthy foods and drinking enough liquids help provide the nutrients a woman needs while breastfeeding. Well nourished mothers have enough iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B6 in their to meet their infant's nutritional requirements during the first six months of life. To avoid malnutrition, breastfeeding women need an extra meal each day to support the increase in their nutritional needs and should take micro nutrient supplements, if possible



Breast feeding is not supposed to hurt. A woman may experience some soreness at first, but it should gradually go away. Correcting a poor latch on is the first step to ensuring comfortable breastfeeding. Also, breast can become tender and painful when a milk duct is plugged and milk is blocked from flowing. Breast may or may not turn red. If a woman has these symptoms of a plugged milk duct, advise her to continue breastfeeding often, vary her position when breastfeeding, get more rest, apply heat or warm compresses to the breast and massage the breasts. Once the milk is flowing, the soreness will decrease.

A sore breast can also be due to mastitis. Mastitis is inflammation of a breast that may or may not be infected. If a woman has mastitis, her breast is sore, red, swollen and hard and she feels achy, tired and feverish. Mastitis develops where milk is not effectively removed from the breast and accumulates over time. The first step in treating mastitis is removing the milk by expressing breast milk and continuing breast feed. Continuing breastfeeding is important for a woman's own recovery and for her baby. If the symptoms of mastitis are severe , if the woman has visible cracks in her nipple. or if the symptoms do not improve after 24 hours of effective milk removal, antibiotic treatment is recommended.

Breast engorgement can occur when mature breast milk comes in and breasts become full, hard and tender. Engorgement is less likely to occur if a woman feeds her baby often and lets the baby nurse as long as possible. If a woman suffers from engorged breasts, she can try using warm compresses for a few minutes before a feeding session and expressing some milk by hand or pump, or applying ice or cold compresses between feedings. Green cabbage leaves (washed) can be used as a compress, instead of ice. A woman should see a health care professional if engorgement prevents good latch-on, the pain is severe or does not go away in 48 hours , or if the woman develops any of the following symptoms indicating a breast infection, fever , chills, body aches, localized pain or flu-like symptoms.

Positioning the baby properly and helping the baby to latch on correctly can help to prevent sore and cracked nipples. If the latch is uncomfortable, the mother should gently release the baby's mouth and start again. Avoiding the cleaning of nipples with alcohol based products and harsh soaps can also help prevent cracked nipples. Cleaning the nipples with plain water is best, and since breast milk contains antibodies, allowing the nipples to air dry with breast milk on them may help treat problem and prevent further cracking.


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