A Breastfeeding Guide For First-time Mothers
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New mothers tend to find breastfeeding and the whole conversation around it rather stressful. Are you doing it at all? If you are, are you doing it right? Or are you doing it for too long? If all you have are questions, don’t worry! Here are the five common questions answered for you.
How Do You Make Breastfeeding Simpler?
Some of the most efficient methods to make breastfeeding easier involve asking the most basic questions. Speak with your doctor or nurse about the right latching techniques for the first few feeds. Most doctors recommend supporting the neck and shoulders of the baby. You can also invest in a nursing pillow to ensure you and your baby are comfortable at all times.
Along with the correct posture, timing is essential. Some babies need to be fed eight to twelve times a day. So, you must pay attention to your baby and understand what they want to be fed. They will likely signal when they are hungry in the form of sighs, licking their lips, or simply getting restless. Understand these cues and watch out for them.
Is Breastfeeding Good For The Baby?
Breastfeeding is a natural way of giving your baby the essential nutrients they require. It plays such an integral role in the development of a baby that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends feeding babies only breast milk until they reach six months of age.1
There are a variety of reasons why breastfeeding plays such a vital role in the growth and development of the baby.
- Breastfeeding boosts the baby’s immunity and helps with growth.2
- Breastmilk contains an essential mix of proteins, vitamins, and fat along with antibodies that help fight bacteria and viruses.
- Studies also show that breastfeeding reduces the risk of gastroenteritis and necrotizing enterocolitis.3
- Additionally, breastfeeding greatly prevents ear, urinary tract, and respiratory infections and leads to a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- In the long run, there is a low risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
- Chances of asthma, dermatitis, and sleep disorder are low too.
- Some studies also suggest that breastfed babies are smarter and more intelligent as compared to those that were not breastfed.
Is Breastfeeding Good For You?
Yes, breastfeeding brings several benefits for mothers too.
- It is linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, and specific types of ovarian and breast cancer.
- It helps restore your uterus to normal size after childbirth.4
- Mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Breastfeeding also helps you shed the excess weight you gained during pregnancy.
At the same time, breastfeeding may present challenges and obstacles as well. These primarily come to be in the form of sore nipples, mastitis, and other challenges that breastfeeding mothers face. You may also find the process painful or stressful or have concerns about the quantity of milk. The best way to deal with these stressors is by getting professional advice. Do not rely on hearsay and reach out to relevant personnel for optimal solutions to such problems.
When it comes to breastfeeding, proper nutritional intake and proper hydration play a vital role. You will likely need to consume about 2,500 to 2,700 calories per day depending on your activity level.5 These calories must come from healthy and nutritious sources that are good for you and the baby.
After all, it is not just the quantity of breastmilk that matters, it is the quality as well. A good way to improve the quality of breastmilk is by incorporating healthy supplements into your diet. Adding a healthy drink is strongly advisable. For instance, Horlicks Mother’s Plus provides a host of important micronutrients, including Iodine, Selenium, Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, and B12, all of which help to improve the quality of breastmilk. This eventually ensures better nutritional benefits for the mother and baby.
Along with vital supplements, a healthy balanced diet is key. The Nutrition Society of India lays down the following recommendations for optimal nutrition while breastfeeding
- Consume an adequate amount of rice as well as coarse grains like millet.
- Do not skip edible fats like oil, ghee, or butter.
- Mix fresh leafy greens with coloured vegetables and tubers.
- Aim to consume at least 500 g of milk and milk products like yoghurt.
- Indulge in pulses and dried beans that provide good sources of protein.
- If you are a non-vegetarian, include 30 g of animal protein in your daily diet.
- Eat lots of fruit and moderate quantities of sugar or jaggery.
- Drink plenty of water and liquids to keep yourself hydrated.
At the same time, avoid smoking or consuming an excessive amount of caffeine. Both may prove to be disadvantageous in the long term and could result in serious harm if not carefully monitored.
When Do You Stop Breastfeeding?
The process of breastfeeding is an intimate moment between the mother and the baby. You should start breastfeeding your baby within the first hour of delivery. That will ensure that the baby gets an adequate supply of nutrient-rich colostrum. When to stop is another matter altogether. The World Health Organisation suggests that you supplement a baby’s diet with breast milk for up to two years and beyond.
However, the decision to stop breastfeeding comes from an emotional place instead of a physical standpoint. That is why health experts recommend that you stop breastfeeding only when you and the baby are both comfortable with discontinuing it. If you have any questions or clarifications, it is best to address them with your pediatrician.
The author is Neha Chandna, who is a practicing dietitian for the last 8 years. The views, opinions, and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid. Please consult your doctor for professional advice concerning specific health/medical matters.
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