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Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom and Baby

In the recent past, there has been much talk about breastfeeding. These dialogues have also given rise to the breastfeeding movement, which aims at normalizing breastfeeding as well as highlight breastfeeding benefits for mom and baby.  However, breastfeeding has also been riddled with myths and incorrect information. With the world breastfeeding week upon us, we seek to shed some more light on breastfeeding and why it’s important for human development.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom and Baby

Benefits of Breastfeeding:

A few decades ago, working women were finding it difficult to hold a job as well as raise a baby, especially during the early months of the baby. It was around this time that myths about the harms of breastfeeding started floating. This also allowed some companies to present alternatives which were promoted as being more nutritious than breast milk. These products were undoubtedly nutritious, but they were not enough, over the years it has become more and more clear that breast milk should not be replaced, at least for the first six months of the baby’s life. Yes, there are certain situations where baby formula becomes necessary, but breastfeeding has numerous health benefits. It should also be recognized that despite strong recommendations, breastfeeding is an individual choice. With the information being provided here, we are only trying to help our readers make an informed choice. Here are some health benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers

There have been several rumours about how breastfeeding puts women at risk of breast cancer, however, there is no evidence to support the theory that breastfeeding causes breast cancer. The benefits on the other hand have been documented and researched upon. Here are a few benefits of breastfeeding:

  1. Breastfeeding helps to lose weight gained during pregnancy, by burning extra calories.
  2. The hormone, Oxytocin is released in mothers who breastfeed, this hormone helps the uterus reach its normal size faster.
  3. Oxytocin also helps reduce the post childbirth bleeding of the uterus.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer as well as breast cancer.
  5. Studies show women who breastfeed are at a lower risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Benefits of Breastfeeding for Babies

Doctors all over have recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life. Breast milk is said to have enough healthy nutrients for the baby. The milk also helps the baby’s development especially in the development of his/her immune system. Here are some advantages of breastfeeding for the baby:

  1. The first milk prepared by a mother’s breast is a thick, yellow liquid known as “Colostrum”, this colostrum aids the development of the baby’s digestive tract, enabling it to digest the breast milk it later receives.
  2. Breast milk has the optimum mix of all vital nutrients required by the baby’s body for its development, it also easy to digest.
  3. Breast milk also contains antibodies which strengthens the baby’s body against viruses and bacteria.
  4. Breast milk reduces the risk of developing asthma and other respiratory diseases, along with other health issues like ear infections, and diarrhea.
  5. Breastfeeding prevents obesity in babies. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics claims that breast milk prevents sudden infant death syndrome, along with other adulthood diseases like diabetes, obesity and cancer. However, further research is required to substantiate these claims.

The ABC’s of Breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is often difficult for both the young mother and the child. It comes with its own set of stress, most young mothers worry that the initial weight loss suffered by their babies is because of insufficient feeding. However, it is a fact that most babies lose some weight after being born, the reason is not dependent on feeding.

This is, however, just a part of the worry, finding the right position to breastfeed, the correct way to make the baby latch, recognise when the baby is hungry are all new, worrying and sometimes frustrating aspects of being a young mother. However, here are the three key aspects a young mother must always keep into account:

  • Awareness: A young mother must always pay attention to what the baby is doing. A young infant is not feed for a long time in one go, which means he/she gets frequently hungry, sometimes, the mother needs to feed the baby every 30 minutes. When a baby is hungry, they either move towards their mother’s breast, or they suck on their fist. These are markers of a baby’s hunger, a crying baby is the sign of a starving baby.
  • Being Patient: Patience is a virtue which is necessary for a young mother. Ideally, infants know their hunger and milk intake capacity, so there might be times when they get hungry either earlier than expected or later than expected. It is necessary for a young mother to not rush her infant through feeding.
  • Comfort: A comfortable position is a basic requirement for a successful breastfeeding session. A comfortable position and relaxed mind help the milk flow better. Thus, it is imperative that nursing mothers find comfortable positions, which also support the mother.

However, the Stanford Medicine believes that ABC, stand for Assistance: Assisting the baby in successfully latching onto the breast for feeding. Breastmilk: The amount of breastmilk and its inherent nutrients provide the baby with all necessary nutrition. Contact: Skin to skin contact helps the mother and baby sleep more, increases milk production in the breasts as well as helps the baby in learning to breastfeed faster.

It seems that ABCs of breastfeeding could mean a lot of things, however, the centre of the issue is the act of breastfeeding which is beneficial to the baby and women’s health.

Difference Between Human Milk and Animal Milk:

The amount of nutrients in any mammals milk is to ensure the healthy growth of the young of that species. Keeping this in mind, human milk is best for the development of a human baby, which is why healthcare professionals discourage bottle feeding animal milk to children below the age of 12 months. Below is a comparative chart of nutrients and their percentage share in mammal milk.

Comparison of Human Milk and Animal Milk

Image 1.1: Comparison of Human Milk and Animal Milk

As is evident from the comparison chart, human milk is comparatively lower in nutrients like proteins and casein, which are much more difficult to break down and digest for the digestive system of a human baby. On the hand, human milk is high in carbohydrates and fats, which are easy to absorb, they also help human babies attain overall development.

Challenges of BreastFeeding:

Breastfeeding can be just as difficult for young mothers, as it is for the babies. It is a new experience for both and requires some patience and practice in getting used to the routine. Here are a few difficulties, young mothers and their babies face while breastfeeding:

  • Comfortable Position: Finding a comfortable position for both the mother and baby is difficult. Especially when the child is newborn, and from our discussion, in the previous sections we know that comfortable positions help the smooth flow of blood.
  • Discomfort: Young mothers are bound to feel some pain and discomfort during the first few times they breastfeed.
  • Difficulty in Latching: The baby may find latching onto the mother’s breast difficult. Young mothers also need practice in ensuring that the baby latches onto the breast for feeding.
  • No Measure of Milk Intake: Since the production of breast milk depends on the frequency of breastfeeding as well as the hunger of the baby, it is difficult to measure the amount of breastmilk a baby consumes in one feeding or day.

Breastfeeding Myths:

Before science stepped in breastfeeding was seen as a necessary and natural process. It is but obvious that much understanding about breastfeeding was derived from inferences drawn from direct observation. This means, that there have been several urban myths, which are not really true at all, here are some such myths:

1. Breastfeeding is Easy and Pain while Breastfeeding is Natural:

This assumption is as far away from reality as it could be. While popular media would have you believe that breastfeeding is the most natural and easy thing for a young mother and her child, it is a lie. Breastfeeding requires practice, yes, it is a natural act, but that in no way means that women are naturally equipped with the knowledge of comfortable positions for breastfeeding. In fact, as research has shown, most postures that women are trained in, are postures which were more comfortable for bottle feeding. Only now are the practicality of these positions being revisited and better postures being re-discovered.

Similarly, there is a popular that pain is natural while breastfeeding. Yes, it is true that the first few times, when the mother is a novice, she may feel slight discomfort while breastfeeding. But if the pain continues, it is not natural and a doctor should be consulted. Especially, if the nipple skin is cracked or a mark appears on the breast. Sometimes, infections can be caused because of the dry and cracked nipples. At other times, milk could get caught up in the breast.

2. Inadequate Production and Supply of Breast Milk makes the Baby Feed a Lot:

Nobody can predict for sure how much a baby drinks in one feeding session. It could be that the breasts are producing adequate amount of milk, but the baby is digesting the milk faster. It could also mean, that the baby is drinking very little milk in one go and is getting hungry frequently.

3. Babies Being Fed with Formula Sleep Better:

There is no evidence to suggest that babies being fed formula sleep better. In fact, baby formula is much heavier than breast milk, which means it stays longer in the stomach of the baby. This may make the baby sleep longer, but it is no way means that breastfed babies, do not get the same quality of sleep. In fact, since formula is difficult to digest, it starts fermenting in a baby’s stomach, making it uncomfortable for the baby.

4. Breastfeeding is a Natural Contraceptive:

Breastfeeding is a contraceptive, only when a lot of other conditions are met. Exclusive breastfeeding practised by the mother for the first six months in the least can act prevent further pregnancy. The condition is that the woman hasn’t started a menstrual cycle in these six months. Research reveals that hormones released during breastfeeding months prevent ovulation, but if the woman has started with her menstrual cycle, breastfeeding will not prevent a further pregnancy.

5. Women who Breastfeed get Inadequate Sleep:

On the other hand, women who breastfeed get better sleep, as they don’t have to occasionally get up to prepare the formula before feeding the baby.

Breastfeeding Tips

As we had established earlier breastfeeding is not easy, so we have some tips here to make it easier for young mothers:

  1. Try and feed the baby within the first hour of childbirth, if not feed then at least have a skin to skin contact with the baby. If the mother has had a C-section, the father should have a skin to skin contact with the baby and the mother should have the same contact as soon as she is in the state for some contact.
  2. Babies nurse better if their feet are touching something, as it makes them feel secure. Ensure that the baby’s feet are touching your arm or the feeding pillow.
  3. While feeding always follow the nose to nipple and belly to belly practice.
  4. Don’t push the back of your baby’s head. It makes them want to restrain back and refuse feeding. It is better to gently support the back of the neck.
  5. Instead of timing the gap between breastfeeding periods, it would be better to pay attention to the signs and signals your child displays when he/she is hungry.
  6. Maternal care and comfort is an important part of a healthy breastfeeding practice. It would be better for the mother if she sleeps with her baby, this allows her ample amount of rest periods.
  7. Nursing mothers should also either use a few drops of breast milk or water based hydrating solutions to prevent the dryness and cracks on their nipples.
  8. Positions are also important, here is one such position: The mother could lie on her side, she may use pillows to make herself comfortable. The mother must now snuggle closer to the baby and with her free hand, lift her nipple into the baby’s mouth. Once the baby is latched on, the mother should use her free hand to support the baby’s neck.
  9. Another good position is cradling the baby. Place the head of your baby on the crook of your elbow and align his/her body to touch yours so that he/she feels safe. Wrap your free arm around the baby’s head or neck or support his/her feet.
  10. This position is the best position for a mother recovering from C-section. Align your baby’s back on your forearm like you are holding a football.

Supplement for Young Mothers:

Young mothers at times may worry that their breasts are not making enough milk. Generally, this issue is remedied naturally, but in some cases, there is a possibility that a mother’s breasts just aren’t making enough milk. The reasons could be many, including weakness, thus, at times doctors suggest women to opt for supplements, which will help their breasts make more milk. If you feel your breasts are not making enough milk, consult a doctor.

Once the doctor suggests supplements, you can buy Nestle Baby & Me Nutritional Supplement Powder from our shop. The Nestle nutritional powder has various healthy elements which help with the development of your baby. Since it wholesome, it also reduces cravings for unhealthy snacks. 

When Shouldn’t a Mother Breastfeed?

Breastfeeding is the best thing for a baby’s health, however, there are some chronic health conditions that the mother may suffer from which can be transferred to the baby through breastfeeding and have a negative impact on his/her health. Here are a few situations when a mother should feed the baby formula, rather than her own milk:

  1. If the mother is HIV positive and taking medications for the same, most doctors suggest that a woman should refrain from breastfeeding. However, WHO argues that if a woman is provided with adequate health care and takes certain precautions, she should opt for breastfeeding.
  2. If the mother abuses substances, it would be better to keep the baby on formula.
  3. Birth control pills do not mix well with breastfeeding, thus if the mother is on birth control pills, she should avoid feeding her baby breast milk.
  4. If the mother is undergoing cancer treatment, which includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy, she should refrain from breastfeeding.
  5. If the mother is suffering from mood based disorders like anxiety or depression and is on mood stabilizers, she should not breastfeed.
  6. If a woman or her family suspects that she is suffering from tuberculosis, she should not breastfeed till it is diagnosed and treated.
  7. If a woman takes sleeping pills regularly she should feed the baby formula rather than her own milk.

How and When to Combine Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding?

While breastfeeding should be continued for as long as possible, it is also important to make the baby independent, and this independence stems from allowing the baby to experiment with a bottle. A young mother should wait for at least 8 weeks before introducing the baby to the bottle, however, we would suggest that one continues with breastfeeding for at least the first six months of the baby’s life. After the first six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the young mother could either pump her own milk in a bottle or prepare a baby formula and introduce the bottle to the baby for one meal. The reduction in breastfeeding frequency has to be gradual to prevent mastitis or engorgement of breasts or breast leaks.

It is also a possibility that the baby may resist the bottle initially, it is always better to ask someone else to feed the baby with the bottle, it is also a good idea to experiment with bottle teats to find the one your baby is most comfortable with.

Breastfeeding Movement:

In the recent past, the western world has suddenly woken up to the fact that babies don’t have a fixed hunger time and feeding the baby formula all the time is not the healthiest option for either the mother or the baby. The breastfeeding movement encourages women to breastfeed their children, but the movement is also about normalizing breastfeeding in public. Throughout the year, women’s organizations in the western world have been fighting people and legislation to make breastfeeding acceptable in public places. The western world it seems is struggling with removing the aspect of shame from breastfeeding.

World Breastfeeding Week:

In the year 1990, WHO and UNICEF signed the “Innocenti Declaration” to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. To commemorate this declaration, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was formed in 1991 and in 1992 WABA celebrated the first World Breastfeeding Week. It is now observed over 120 countries by UNICEF, WHO and associated governments and organizations. The world breastfeeding week is celebrated to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding as well as develop a culture of breastfeeding. In 2010, 540 events were held in 79 countries with 406,620 participants to commemorate breastfeeding week.

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Breastfeeding Can Lower Risk of Fatty Liver in Mothers

– 15th Nov 2018

Researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente recently published their research reports in the Journal of Hepatology. This research was focused on identifying the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother. The research revealed that mothers who breastfeed for 6 months or more are at a lower risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver in their middle ages, as opposed to those mothers who breast for 1 month or less.

The report also revealed that mothers who breastfeed for more than 6 months also lower bad cholesterols levels, a smaller waistline, lower BMI, and lower triglycerides. In fact, the researchers believe that this new set of data is just another part of strengthening the knowledge on the benefits of breastfeeding for 6 months or more for both the mother and the baby. In fact, the research reveals that breastfeeding more than one children for extended periods can reap benefits even after 25 years of childbirth.

Breast Milk Boosts Oral Health of the Baby

– 14th Nov 2018

According to the results published by the Queensland University of Technology, breast milk can improve oral hygiene of the baby. The study took samples from the mouths of babies before and after breastfeeding and concluded that a mixture of breast milk and neonatal saliva, leads to the formation of several antibiotics including hydrogen peroxide, which can counter and contain bacteria, both normal and harmful for over 24 hours with just one session of breastfeeding.

The mixing of neonatal saliva and breast milk also leads to the formation of several other compounds which help prevent the development of bacteria in infants. The study even suggested that the microbial composition inside the mouth of an infant is extremely dynamic and that the breast milk and saliva composition can help alter and stabilize it within the first few months of the baby’s life.

The First Breast Milk Bank In Bengaluru Happy With The Rising Demand.

– 16th Nov 2018

According to the recent reports from Deccan Chronicle, Amaara the first breast milk bank in Bengaluru is facing an increased demand for breastmilk from various hospitals. Till now about 176 babies born before time are benefiting from this particular service from Fortis La Femme Breast Milk Bank. The head of Neonatology from the hospital Dr.Sreenath Manikandi has told that almost 31 hospitals are availing the service from this fortis initiative located in Richmond Town.

The initiative which was set up in lines with the WHO’s millennium development goal to reduce the rate of infant mortality in the country. According to WHO low birth weight and premature birth are the leading contributors to the infant mortality rate. With this new initiative from Fortis its possible for these pre-born and low weight babies to receive the necessary nutrition that is required for them to survive. The best alternative food for babies who cannot be breastfed is the breast milk from another healthy mother.

With this new initiative, the children born in and around Bangalore will have an opportunity to reap the benefits of breastmilk even if the mother is not able to feed the baby directly due to various reason. The breastmilk bank collects breast milk from verified donors and ensures proper treatment and storage of the milk for future uses. Breastmilk is a very important source of nutrition for newborn babies as it plays an important role in the immunity of the baby.

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