Parenting Lesson 19 - All about breast feeding

Topics discussed in this lesson-

  1. When and how to start breast feeding

  2. Till what age I should breastfeed my child

  3. How often do you need to breastfeed your child

  4. Making your child take burp

  5. Expressing your breastmilk and storing it properly and feeding it

When and how to start breast feeding

World over doctors and medical bodies strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months. Exclusive breastfeeding means that your baby has only breastmilk for 6 months. That means giving your baby breastmilk from your breasts or from bottles. Don’t give your baby water, sugar water, or formula in first 6 months.

Getting started with breastfeeding

Your milk and how you breastfeed change as your baby grows and develops. A newborn's feeding routine is different than that of a breastfeeding 6-month-old. As your baby grows, the nutrients in your milk change to meet your growing baby's needs. The anti-infective properties also increase if you or your baby is exposed to some new bacteria or virus. Here's how to get started:

Early breastfeeding

The first few weeks of breastfeeding are a learning period for both you and your baby. It takes time for you both to work as a team. Be patient as you recover from your delivery, create a daily routine, and become comfortable with breastfeeding. Keep track of feedings and wet diapers. This can help your child's healthcare provider assess how your feedings are going.

Day 1

Most full-term, healthy babies are ready and eager to begin breastfeeding within the first half hour to 2 hours after birth. This first hour or 2 is an important time for babies to nurse and be with their mothers. The AAP recommends that babies be placed skin to skin with their mother right after birth (or when both you and your baby are able). Skin to skin means placing your naked baby stomach-down on your bare chest. This keeps the baby warm, helps keep the baby's blood sugar up, and helps the baby breastfeed for the first time. It is recommended that babies be kept skin to skin at least 1 hour. Or they can be kept this way longer if the baby hasn't breastfed yet.

Days 2 to 4

Your baby may need practice with latching on and sucking. But by the second day, your baby should begin to wake and show readiness for feedings every 1 1/2 to 3 hours, for a total of 8 to 12 feedings over 24 hours. These frequent feedings provide your baby with antibody-rich first milk (colostrum). And they tell your breasts to make more milk. Let your baby nurse on one breast until finished. You can then change and burp your baby before you offer the other breast. If the baby is not interested in breastfeeding, start with the second breast at the next feeding.

As with day 1, you likely will change only a few wet and dirty diapers on baby's second and third days. Don't be surprised if your baby loses weight during the first few days. The number of diaper changes and your baby's weight will increase when your milk comes in.

Days 3 to 5

You will have a lot more milk 3 or 4 days after birth. When the amount of milk increases, the milk is said to have come in. Your baby is drinking more at each feeding. So he or she may drift off to sleep after a feeding and act more satisfied. Within 12 to 24 hours, you should be changing a lot more wet diapers. The number of dirty diapers also increases. And the stools should be changing. The baby's first bowel movements (meconium) are sticky and dark. They will become a mustard-yellow, loose, and seedy stool.

Various positions of breastfeeding

There are various breastfeeding positions to suit you and your child’s comfort. The most popular ones are

1. The Laid Back Nursing

2. Cradle hold

3. Cross Cradle Hold

4. Football Hold

5. The Side Lying Position

You can ask your doctor or nurse for more information on this. Always remember that position selection is always linked with comfort and safety of your child. So remember these round rules on breastfeeding

1. Always keep child’s body and head in alignment. She should not be twisting her neck to reach out to your nipples

2. Don’t shove your body on the child, she could choke. Just put your breasts inside her mouth amply.

3. Never make the child make effort ot reach nipples. She should be able to easily suckle onto your breasts

4. Always keep the child safely in your lap, she should be always supported by a solid surface or your body parts

Till what age I should breastfeed my child

Stopping breastfeeding is called weaning. It is up to you and your baby to decide when the time is right. The World Health Organization recommends that all babies be exclusively breastfed for six months, then gradually introduced to appropriate family foods after six months while continuing to breastfeed for two years or beyond.

Some babies decrease the number of breastfeeds as they begin to be able to digest solid food. The first foods are really tastes and not much is digested or able to be used by the baby. It is often not until nine to 12 months or later that babies are able to actually ingest (swallow) and use the solid foods that they eat.

Breastmilk in the first year

Breastmilk contains all the nourishment needed to promote normal healthy growth and development in babies in their first six months of life and remains the most important food during their first year. Babies weaned from breastmilk prior to their first birthday will need to be given infant formula. Please consult your maternal and child health nurse for further information on this.

Infant formulas are generally not necessary after the first 12 months, as your child should be then receiving a large range of family foods including dairy products.

How often do you need to breastfeed your child

Newborn babies should breastfeed 8–12 times per day for about the first month. Breast milk is easily digested, so newborns are hungry often. Frequent feedings helps stimulate your milk production during the first few weeks.

By the time your baby is 1–2 months old, he or she probably will nurse 7–9 times a day.

In the first few weeks of life, breastfeeding should be "on demand" (when your baby is hungry), which is about every 1-1/2 to 3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll nurse less often, and may have a more predictable schedule. Some might feed every 90 minutes, whereas others might go 2–3 hours between feedings.

Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding, even overnight.

Making your child take burp

An important part of feeding a baby is burping. Burping helps to get rid of some of the air that babies tend to swallow during feeding. Not being burped often and swallowing too much air can make a baby spit up, or seem cranky or gassy.

How to Burp Your Baby

When burping your baby, repeated gentle patting on your baby's back should do the trick. Cup your hand while patting — this is gentler on the baby than a flat palm.

To prevent messy cleanups when your baby spits up or has a "wet burp," you might want to place a towel or bib under your baby's chin or on your shoulder.

Try different positions for burping that are comfortable for you and your baby. Many parents use one of these three methods:

Sit upright and hold your baby against your chest. Your baby's chin should rest on your shoulder as you support the baby with one hand. With the other hand, gently pat your baby's back. Sitting in a rocking chair and gently rocking with your baby while you do this may also help.

Hold your baby sitting up, in your lap or across your knee. Support your baby's chest and head with one hand by cradling your baby's chin in the palm of your hand. Rest the heel of your hand on your baby's chest, but be careful to grip your baby's chin, not the throat. Use the other hand to pat your baby's back.

Lay your baby on your lap on his or her belly. Support your baby's head and make sure it's higher than his or her chest. Gently pat your baby's back.

If your baby seems fussy while feeding, stop the session, burp your baby, and then begin feeding again. Try burping your baby every 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 milliliters) if you bottle-feed and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.

Try burping your baby every ounce during bottle-feeding or every 5 minutes during breastfeeding if your baby:

  • tends to be gassy

  • spits a lot

  • has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • seems fussy during feeding

If your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, change the baby's position and try burping for another few minutes before feeding again. Always burp your baby when feeding time is over.

To help prevent the milk from coming back up, keep your baby upright after feeding for 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if your baby spits up or has GERD. But don't worry if your baby spits sometimes. It's probably more unpleasant for you than it is for your baby.

Expressing your breastmilk and storing it properly and feeding it

After each pumping, you can:

Keep milk at room temperature. Breastmilk is OK for up to 4 hours after pumping at room temperature (up to 77°F).

Refrigerate it. Breastmilk is OK in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Place milk in the freezer. If you're not going to use refrigerated breastmilk within 4 days of pumping, freeze it right after pumping.

Use cooler packs. You can put breastmilk in a cooler or insulated cooler pack with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours after pumping. After 24 hours in a cooler the breastmilk should be refrigerated or frozen.

When storing breastmilk, use breastmilk storage bags, which are made for freezing human milk. You can also use clean glass or hard BPA-free plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids. Do not use containers with the recycle number 7, which may contain BPA. Do not use disposable bottle liners or other plastic bags to store breastmilk.

Storage bottles or bags to refrigerate or freeze your breastmilk also qualify as tax-deductible breastfeeding gear. Most insurance plans must cover breastfeeding supplies, such as storage bags, in addition to breast pumps. Call your insurance company to learn more.