When done properly, there are a lot of advantages in breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. Getting familiar with the know-how to breastfeeding a baby can help you reap these benefits:
First, for the babies, it protects them from diarrhea and pneumonia (two common causes of child mortality in the world) because of the antibodies the breast milk contains. Thinking long term, breastfeeding lowers the risk of type II diabetes and becoming obese or overweight when the babies hit adolescence to adulthood.
Then, for the mothers, exclusive breastfeeding means birth control with a success rate of 98% in the first six months after giving birth. The risk of acquiring breast and ovarian cancer so as type II diabetes, post-menopausal osteoporosis and postpartum depression is also reduced. To add, breastfeeding burns calories fast so mothers can say goodbye to the baby weight sooner than we thought.
The first tip to remember is to, ideally, breastfeed within the first hour after the delivery so the baby can start receiving the effects of colostrum that activate protection against disease and infection. Aside from that, breastfeeding within the first hour stimulates the infant’s digestion and bowels and practically, difficulties in sucking are corrected at the onset when a baby is fed properly at this very stage.
The second tip is proper latching. Take note that if the baby is not latched on properly, breastfeeding becomes painful. Likewise, a good latching position enhances the whole breastfeeding experience to a wonderful bonding moment between mother and child.
The key word here is “comfort”
The mom should be comfortable while breastfeeding the baby. It’s either you lie back or sit down. If you opt to sit, you may use cushion to help with the baby weight. A stool, footrest or piled telephone books can also help in relaxing the feet when breastfeeding.
If in bed, make sure that you and your baby are facing tummy-to-tummy. The child’s mouth and nose should face your nipple; breast should not press on the infant’s chin and try not to lean on the baby as it will cause strain on your end and discomfort on the baby’s position. In addition, if there is someone who can bring the baby close to you once you have settled in your most comfortable spot that would be great.
Latching on is the process where a baby takes on the mother’s nipple and areola to suckle. This is the step that gaps breastfeeding and nourishment. If done correctly, the reaping of benefits becomes easy for both mom and baby.
The baby’s bottom lip and tongue should get to your breast first. An effective way to do it is to tickle his bottom lip by your nipple. The baby should get as much of the areola’s lower portion inside his mouth. If the aim is missed, start over again by tickling the baby’s lower lip.
One factor to look after though is if the baby is tongue tied as it affects latching on. Tongue tie or ankyloglossia ensues when the string of tissue under the baby’s tongue is too short.
The baby’s lips should look like fish lips (flanged out). The baby’s lower jaw drops as a sign of responding well to the feeding.
For proper latching, breast support can come in two ways:
- C Hold – cupping your breast that it forms a letter “C”. The thumb should be above the areola and the fingers under the breast.
- U Hold – this time, the hand forms a letter “U” in cupping the breast. Fingers should be under the ribcage, the areola should be sandwiched by the “U” formed by the index finger and the thumb.
The “Success Test”
How can you identify if the baby has had a successful latch on thus a satisfied breastfeeding session?
Here are some indicators:
- The tongue is visible when you pull down the bottom lip.
- As mentioned above, the jaw does the talking. Jaw movement rather than chin movement indicates a good latch on thus a stress-free breastfeeding.
- There are no smacking/clicking noises coming from the child.
- You can actually hear the baby swallowing.
- The nipple is not flattened when it comes off the baby’s mouth.
- If it hurts you, you have to start all over again because most likely the child is unable to suck out milk from the breast.
If the baby falls off the breast, falls asleep or simply looks relaxed, good job! The breastfeeding session has been fantastic.
The World Health Organization defines breastfeeding as the “normal way of providing young infants with nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.” The definition itself may sound intimidating as the newborn relies heavily and solely on the mother for all nutrition requirements.