How To Love Your Breastfeeding Days

Breastfeeding is one of the amazing life experiences a woman and her baby can share and benefit from! Here’s everything you need to know about nursing.

Your body and your baby are ‘designed’ to nurse well. Relax, and Baby will relax – and feed well too. To navigate your way along a successful nursing journey, start here …

Sister Lilian Centre’s six steps for nursing success

Follow this approach and you’re likely to avoid all the common problems like engorgement, sore nipples, blocked ducts and mastitis – after all, prevention is better than cure!

  1. Plan for success: The most important thing you can do to ensure successful breastfeeding is to really want to nurse your baby, and to believe in your ability to do so. Tell your doctor and midwife that you would like to breastfeed, and know that breast really is best.
  1. Breastfeed Baby soon after birth: Keep Baby skin-to-skin on your chest and feed her within an hour. This might be easier after a natural delivery, but if your doctor is aware of your desire to ease the breastfeeding process after a Caesar, a healthy Baby can be put to breast in the operating theatre.
  1. Give breastfeeding some time: In the first few days, let Baby suckle whenever he wants, so he gets colostrum, the liquid gold first milk. Give Baby some time to nuzzle at your breast if he is unsettled. If Baby struggles to latch, gently drop his forehead a little away from you, allow him to open his mouth wide enough, then gently pull downwards on his chin as he latches. Don’t be tempted to give any supplemental feeds! When Baby fusses at the breast, feed him while you take a warm bath, or latch him while you walk.
  1. Know how natural nursing works: Breastfed babies often need to feed with a few ‘courses’ each time – starters, main meal, pudding and sometimes even an after-dinner mint! Do not think you have insufficient milk. Between ‘courses’, Baby might need to nap for 10 minutes, have a nappy change or simply lie in your arms until his tummy is ready for the next course.
  1. Know what to expect around Day 3, when your milk comes in: Feed Baby frequently to avoid painfully full breasts, blocked ducts and mastitis. Allow Baby to suckle at the first breast until he takes a break. He’ll then suckle from your other breast, take another short break, and probably drink a third time.
  1. Avoid test weighing: This is often inaccurate and anxiety provoking. If Baby has five or six wet or soiled nappies each day, you have enough milk.

Is breastfeeding really best?

Without a doubt! For starters, as well as being perfectly balanced and easy to digest, breast milk adapts as Baby grows, to meet Baby’s needs at every stage of development. Here are more invaluable benefits:

Health benefits for Baby

  • Colostrum provides immunity to a wide range of diseases – and its protection lasts for months!
  • Breast milk decreases the likelihood of digestive problems like constipation and colic.
  • Continued breastfeeding reduces risk of infection and illnesses like asthma, eczema, ear infections and diarrhoea.
  • Breastfed babies often experience better health, so you will likely spend less time tending an ill baby, consulting doctors and missing work.
  • Breastfed babies have better jaw development.

Breastfeeding benefits for Mom

  • Breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract after birth, to prevent bleeding and to restore your figure sooner!
  • Nursing reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • It builds mothering confidence, as you are meeting Baby’s emotional and physical needs.

What Mom eats, Baby eats

There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ breastfeeding diet, but there are some things to take into consideration.

The healthier you are, the healthier your baby will be. Eat a balanced diet, sticking to produce that is as fresh, seasonal, ripe, unrefined and unprocessed as possible. Drink plenty of water and eat smaller meals more often to keep your energy up.

Foods to avoid

  • Introduce allergenic foods (like shellfish, dairy, peanuts or soy) slowly to your diet to see how Baby reacts.
  • Too many dairy or grain-based foods, or too many acidic foods like red meat and pickles, may cause excess mucus or a rash in your baby.
  • If you notice Baby seems fussy after you’ve eaten a particular food, rather avoid it.

Diet myths

Eating leafy greens will cause bloating and cramps in my baby.

This shouldn’t be a problem if you eat moderate amounts.

I must drink cow’s milk and eat dairy products to make breast milk.

This is untrue. In fact, as one of the top allergenic foods, dairy is more likely to cause digestive discomfort in your baby.

Eating spicy food will cause a skin rash and digestive discomfort.

True for some babies, but not true for others!

I must avoid fruit so Baby doesn’t get an acid rash.

There is almost nothing unhealthy about a diet rich in fruit – Mother Nature’s own fast food! Eat uncooked and on its own.

Breastfeeding in public

Why do most people find suggestive advertising just fine, but some still have a problem with breastfeeding a baby in public? It’s not uncivilised, disgusting or exhibitionist – it’s just responding to a baby’s natural needs! Breastfeeding moms don’t try to draw attention to themselves; they discreetly latch Baby on. The problem is in the mind of the beholder, not with the hungry baby or the mother meeting his needs!

Not-so-trivial milk trivia

Did you know these interesting things?

  • Colostrum is mucolytic, helping thin any mucus baby has swallowed or produced before or after birth. This liquid gold acts as a laxative on meconium, and contains an amazing immunity package of antibodies that will last your baby for quite a few months. It is also extremely nutrient rich: Baby only needs a teaspoonful at a time to be the equivalent of 50ml of milk! This is very useful in those early days when Baby is tired and might not have the energy to suck as much. Importantly, colostrum contains excellent levels of vitamin K, which protects Baby against haemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
  • Some components of human milk enhance the effects of others, so the ingredients of human milk work together. Formula or other milk feeding does not achieve this unique property of breast milk.
  • The protein and carbohydrate content of human and donkey’s milk are closest, accounting for them being considered most alike! Perhaps we should question if cow’s milk is a suitable beverage for humans?
  • Mother’s milk changes through the course of a feed, from one feed to another and from day to day. 
  • The gastrointestinal hormone cholecystokinine (CCK) signals sedation and a feeling of well-being. During suckling, CCK release in both Mom and Baby leads to drowsiness. The infant’s CCK level peaks twice after suckling, the first immediately after the feed and then again 30–60 minutes later. The second CCK peak usually eases the process of a baby falling asleep and resting well.