Nature has blessed every woman with the ability to nourish her child with the best source of nutrients, breast milk. With the right proportions of minerals, vitamins, fats, protein, carbohydrates, and water that the baby needs, breast milk gives your infant a good start at life and lifelong protects her from various diseases.
Apart from being advantageous to the baby, breastfeeding provides several benefits to the mother. Whether you are planning to breastfeed or have already started breastfeeding, this quick read guide clarifies all your doubts about breastfeeding and gives you tips on how to breastfeed your baby successfully.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
Breastfeeding offers lots of health benefits for your new baby. It:
- Reduces obesity risk by up to 25%
- Decreases severity and incidence of diarrhea
- Boosts infant’s intelligence
- Provides optimal nutrition
- Protects against skin allergies and eczema
- Boosts the immune system
- Increases mother-baby bonding through skin-to-skin contact
- Reduces the risk of respiratory tract infections
- Protects from dental caries and malocclusion
- Lessens the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Reduces the risk of otitis media (ear infection)
- Minimize the risk of chronic diseases
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mother
Breastfeeding is equally beneficial for the mother’s health too. It:
- Lowers the risk of ovarian cancer
- Lower the chances of developing hypertension
- Slashes the risk of breast cancer
- Minimizes the risk of high blood pressure
- Protects against postpartum depression
- Lowers the risk of heart diseases
- Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by almost one half
- Helps shrink the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size
- Helps you lose weight gained during pregnancy
- Reduces risk of Osteoporosis
Myths and Facts about Breastfeeding
Some of the breastfeeding advice you’ll get from your friends and family may not be accurate. Here are some of the most common myths about breastfeeding – busted.
Myth: Breastfeeding hurts.
Fact: Not true. You may sometimes feel discomfort initially due to poor latching. Otherwise, breastfeeding never hurts.
Myth: Breastfeeding makes your breasts saggy.
Fact: There is no evidence that breastfeeding leads to sagging.
Myth: Mothers with small breasts produce less milk.
Fact: Nonsense! Small boobed moms can produce just as much milk as moms with large breasts.
Myth: Formula feeding is similar to breastfeeding.
Fact: No, formula milk can never be as nutritious and healthy as breast milk.
Myth: Babies who breastfeed do not sleep well.
Fact: Not true. Most babies fall asleep while breastfeeding.
Myth: Getting pregnant is not possible during breastfeeding.
Fact: There is no connection between breastfeeding and pregnancy.
Myth: You can’t breastfeed in public.
Fact: Breastfeeding in public is legal and protected by various national and local laws. You can breastfeed your little one anytime, anywhere you want.
Some Special Conditions When You Should Not Breastfeed
There are certain conditions when breastfeeding can prove harmful to your baby. You should avoid breastfeeding if:
- You have active, untreated TB (Tuberculosis).
- You are HIV positive.
- You use illicit street drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, or PCP (phencyclidine).
- You’re receiving chemotherapy for cancer.
- You have an active herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection
- You’re taking prescription medications for diseases, such as migraine and arthritis.
- Your infant is diagnosed with classic Galactosemia, a rare hereditary metabolic disorder.
- You’ve been infected with Human T-cell lymphotropic viruses, type I (HTLV-I) or type II (HTLV-II).
- You have suspected or confirmed Ebola virus disease.
- If you recently have had breast surgery.
- If you’re infected with untreated brucellosis.
- If you have Food-borne and Waterborne illnesses.
- If you have Hepatitis B or C infections.
If you have ever experienced or are undergoing any of the above conditions, consult a lactation expert before you start.
Tips for Breastfeeding on a Plane
Breastfeeding on a plane can be uncomfortable and challenging. Follow the best practices given below to make breastfeeding on a plane a breeze.
- Wear feeding tops with easy nursing access for hassle-free breastfeeding
- Try breastfeeding during take-off and landing
- Stay well hydrated
- Use a nursing cover while breastfeeding
- Choose an aisle seat
- Carry the things you need for successful breastfeeding on a plane. These may include a few decent burp cloths, diapers, wipes, a lightweight nursing pillow, and a change of clothes for the baby.
Things You Might Not Know About Breastfeeding
There are many things you might not have ever heard about breastfeeding. Here are some of them:
- Breastfeeding burns about 400 to 500 calories a day.
- Breast milk contains the right blend of nutrients, like minerals, vitamins, proteins, antibodies, fats, and sugars.
- Having bigger breasts doesn’t mean more milk.
- An improper breastfeeding latch hurts.
- Breast milk changes color and flavor.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of various cancers in moms.
- Breastfeeding saves a lot of money as you don’t have to buy a breast pump, formula milk, and other feeding supplies.
- Breastfeeding in public is legal.
Tips for Successful Breastfeeding at Night
Nighttime feedings can be challenging for most first-time moms. Here are a few things you can try to make nighttime feedings an easier and comfortable experience:
- Stay as close to your baby as possible.
- Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible.
- Get your baby latched on to the breast properly.
- Keep all the necessities, from diapers and wipes to nursing pads and burp cloths, in reach.
- Watch your baby instead of staring at your clock.
- Ensure easy nursing access by wearing comfortable feeding nightwear.
- Try swaddling to soothe your hungry and crying baby.
- Try side-lying position to make nighttime breastfeeding easier and more comfortable
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your partner or family members when required.
Tips for Surviving the First Month of Breastfeeding
The first month after childbirth is the time when most moms quit breastfeeding. Follow these tips to survive that first month of breastfeeding:
- Educate yourself about breastfeeding by reading books and blogs, taking breastfeeding classes, joining a local breastfeeding support group, talking to other breastfeeding mothers, or consulting a lactation expert.
- Start breastfeeding right after birth
- Always aim for a good, deep latch
- Avoid artificial pacifiers, nipples, and bottles in the first month of breastfeeding
- Eat well and drink a lot
- Avoid caffeinated food and drinks during breastfeeding
- Avoid wearing tight clothing. Instead, use lightweight nursing covers and aprons.
- Stay away from people who discourage you from breastfeeding. Instead, surround yourself with people who support you to breastfeed.