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Advantages of breast feeding

                                

Your breast milk is the only food designed for your baby. It has everything your baby needs for around the first six months of life. Exclusive breast feeding (that means giving your baby breast milk only, with no other food or drink) is recommended for the first six months of your baby’s life. After that, giving your baby breast milk alongside solid food will help them continue to grow and develop.

Just like any new skill, breast feeding takes time and practice to work well. In the first few days, you and your baby will be getting to know each other. Any close contact and holding your baby against your skin can really help with this. The more time you spend with your baby, the quicker you will learn to understand each other’s signs and signals.


                                              The first milk

Colostrum is sometimes called “liquid gold”. It is the thick yellow first milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This is hugely important food; a very concentrated version of breast milk. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby gets a small amount of Colostrum at each feeding; it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold.

Around day two to four, you may notice that your breasts become fuller and warmer. This is often referred to as your milk “coming in”. To keep yourself as comfortable as possible, feed your baby as often as she wants. This mature breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow. It will look quite thin compared to Colostrum, but it provides all the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs.


                                       Baby-led/ demand feeding

Breast feeding works on a “supply and demand” basis. The hungrier your baby is, the more often she will want to breast feed. The more often she breast feeds, the more milk you will make. So baby-led feeding is very important. Offer your baby the breast whenever she seems hungry and let her breast feed as long as she wants. This way you will build your milk supply to match her needs. The amount of milk you make will increase or decrease in line with your baby’s needs.


                                       Foremilk and hind milk

Your milk changes as your baby’s needs change throughout the feed. The milk in the breast at the beginning of a feed is called the foremilk. This is quite thin and watery. As you make milk in response to her sucking, hind milk is produced, which is higher in fat and more satisfying. It’s important that you let your baby take as much milk as she wants from the first breast at each feed so that she gets plenty of the more satisfying hind milk. She may well look very full and sleepy after the feed. Always start the next feed on the opposite breast to the one you started on last time.

                                        The let-down reflex

Your baby’s sucking causes milk stored in your breasts to be squeezed down ducts inside your breasts towards your nipples. This is called the “let down” reflex.  This reflex makes it easier to breast feed your baby. Let down happens a few seconds to several minutes after you start breast feeding your baby. You may feel a tingle in your breast or you may feel a little uncomfortable.  You will see your baby respond and their quick sucks change to deep rhythmic swallows as the milk begins to flow. Babies often pause after the initial quick sucks while they wait for milk to be “delivered”.  Let-down can happen at other times, too, such as when you hear your baby cry or when you may just be thinking about your baby. Sometimes you will notice your milk flowing in response to your baby crying or when you have a warm bath. Apply gentle but firm hand pressure on your nipple whenever this happens. If you decide to buy breast pads, it is necessary to change them at each feed. Plastic-backed ones can make you even soggier.


Why is breast milk so special?
  • Breast milk provides all the nutrients  your baby will need during the first six months of life.

  • It also provides special factors to promote the growth of baby’s brains, nerves, and eyesight. These cannot be found in any other type of milk.

  • Your breast milk is made specifically for your baby and it will change constantly to meet her needs as she grows.

  • Breast milk contains antibodies to protect your baby from infections.

  • Breast milk contains interferon, which help your baby fight viruses.

  • Breast milk regulates itself to suit the needs of your baby. If your baby needs extra milk, your body will make more when needed.

  • Breast milk primes the baby to produce antibodies so breast fed babies have a better response to immunisation.

  • Breast milk unlike formula milk creates the correct condition in the baby’s bowels to prevent the growth of harmful germs, which causes tummy upsets.

  • If your baby is born prematurely, breast milk has special properties which prepare her bowels to tolerate milk.

  • A mother who has premature baby will produce different milk from that of a mother who has a baby at full term. This milk is higher in growth factors and antibodies to help fight infections.

  • Breast feeding helps you lose the weight gained in pregnancy and may help to protect against developing ovarian and breast cancer and weak bones in later life.

Why breast milk matters?
  • Breast milk is tailor made for babies- it’s free and instant

  • Breastfed babies have fewer gastrointestinal problems, middle ear and chest infections

  • The antibodies in breast milk help to reduce illness and increase resistance to infection

  • Breast feeding for at least six months may help lessen allergy problems

  • Breast milk contains the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA, important in brain and eye development

  •  Infant’s eyesight, speech and jaw development are all enhanced by breast feeding

  • Breast feeding may lower the risk of your baby developing diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Every day makes a difference to your baby, and the longer you breast feed, the longer the protection lasts.

  • Breast feeding helps build a strong bond between mother and baby, both physically and emotionally.

  • Breast feeding reduces the risk of cot death.

What gets breastfeeding off to a good start?

The early days of breast feeding matter. You can be sure of getting off to a good start if you bear these key points in mind:
  • Have as much skin-to-skin contact as possible with your baby

  • Breast feed as soon as possible after birth

  • Make sure you are holding your baby well at the breast

  • Get someone to check that your baby is well positioned at the breast

  • Feed your baby on demand

  • Do not offer extra feeds of formula milk or cool, boiled water

  • Avoid using teats or dummies in the early days

                                     Breast feeding essentials
  • Nursing bras 2 to 3 (measuring required around 36+ weeks of pregnancy)

  • Support bras x 3 during pregnancy (measuring required at intervals to check you have the right size)

  • Breast pads (disposable or washable) x 2 packs

  • Nursing nightware (with easy front opening)

  • Muslin squares 6 to 12 ( to clean up baby’s dribbles after feeding)

  • Nipple shields (to help protect sore nipples)

  • Nipple cream

  • Breast pump ( optional)

  • Feeding support cushion (helps get baby in the correct position)

  • Breast milk storage bags or bottles (milk can be frozen up to 3 months)

  • Cooling gel breasts pads ( soothes mastitis, engorgement and blocked ducts)
             


    Types of milk to avoid

    Cow’s milk should not be given as a main drink to a child under the age of one year. Small amounts of cow’s milk can be used in the preparation of foods and for cooking after six months of age. Condensed milk, evaporated milk, dried milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or any other type of drinks (such as rice, oat or almond drinks, often known as “milks”) should never be given to a baby under the age of one year. You should not use soya formula unless it has been prescribed by your doctor. Follow-on-formula are not suitable for babies under six months of age.

 



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