AUSTRALIAN BREASTFEEDING ASSOCIATION 1800 686 2 686
Breastfeeding as I’m sure you’re already aware, is universally accepted as the gold standard in infant feeding and is species specific. Breast milk contains the perfect balance of nutrients for your baby, is free and breast milk is always the righ temperature for baby.
If the mother is Vitamin D deficient and she is breastfeeding, then baby must have a Vitamin D supplement for the first 12 months or until breastfeeding ceases. Artificially fed (formula) babies of a Vitamind D deficient mother do not require a supplement once baby is taking 500mls or more of artificial formula. But as always, please check with your own health care professional – doctor, pharmacist, midwife or maternal and child health nurse.
There is an abundance of breastfeeding myths around, and my advice to you is this: – don’t listen to other peoples stories. You are a unique individual and everybody is different, so wait and see what happens for you. When you are influenced by other peoples suggestions, those suggestions imprint into your subconcious mind as being true and may then be detremental to your breastfeeding success.
During the first few days after birth the breasts will secrete a thick sticky yellowish translucent fluid called colostrum. Colostrum is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, but lower in carbohydrate and fat and gives your newborn a nutritional jumpstart. Colostrum is produced by all pregnant women after the 16th week of pregnancy. Colostrum promotes the growth of lactobacillus bifidus which will help to promote the passing of meconium, the thick sticky poo that collects in the baby’s intestines during pregnancy. In the first few days, only 30 – 60 mls (1 to 2 oz) of colostrum is produced each day which matches the small capacity of the baby’s stomach.
On around the fourth to sixth day after birth, transitional breast milk is produced which will last for a couple of weeks. This milk will be white in colour and up to 500mls (16 oz) per day will be produced. In the next 3 – 5 months, the volume of milk produced will increase slowly to around 600 -950mls (20 – 30 oz) per day. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby as it contains all the nutrients needed in perfect balance. Breast milk is always the correct temperature for your baby and is very easily digested. Iron contained in breast milk is easy for your baby to absorb.
At 2 – 3 weeks after birth, breast milk is referred to as mature milk. Once breastfeeding is fully established, the breasts may produce 550ml – 1.2L (18-40 oz) per day. Around 90% of mature breast milk is water which is essential for baby’s hydration needs. This is why it is not necessary to give babies extra water to drink. The amounts of lactose, fat and energy in the milk increases at this time. Half of the volume of milk your baby will drink will have been emptied from his/her stomach by 50 minutes after the feed.
FOREMILK AND HINDMILK
The first part of breast milk fed to baby or expressed is called foremilk which is followed by hindmilk. Foremilk contains a higher amount of water for quenching the thirst and lactose (a sugar which provides large amounts of energy to the baby’s rapidly growing brain), but a lesser amount of fat than in the hindmilk. For a balanced feed, the baby needs to have both the foremilk and the hindmilk components of a breastfeed. So doing a short feed from both breasts is not recommended as baby will only be receiving the milk with the high water and sugar content from both breasts and their appetite will not be satisfied for very long.
SEQUENCE OF FEEDING
If baby is only having a short breast feed on each breast, they may only receive the foremilk from both breasts which is the milk containing mostly water and sugar, without receiving any hindmilk which is richer and fatty. So switching breasts during a feed before the first breast has been emptied may cause your baby to have an increased amount of gas and looser green watery poo due to receiving a higher sugar load and their appetite will not be satisfied for very long. It is much better to feed for a longer time and empty the breast, so that baby receives both foremilk and hindmilk.
Breast milk contains antibodies that protect your baby and will help to fight off common childhood illnesses. Breast milk also fosters an infection fighting environment in your baby’s digestive system that helps reduce the incidence of ear infections, allergies and diarrhoea.
The content of breast milk changes to meet the needs of your baby. As your baby begins a feed, more water is provided to quench their thihirst, but after only a couple of minutes the milk that follows has more protein and fat that your baby will need for energy and weight gain. Breast milk also changes as your baby grows.
Whilst breastfeeding provides the perfect nutritional balance, it also allows you to have skin to skin contact with your baby which is so important for the bonding process and close eye contact is also maintained. As your baby sucks, this stimulates hormones that make your uterus contract, which helps you to return to your pre pregnancy weight more quickly.
BREAST MILK PROTEIN
There are 7 – 10 grams of protein in each litre of breast milk. Whey and casein are the two main proteins found in breast milk. Whey protein is very easily digested, and this is the protein that newborn artificial formulas are based upon. Initially, 60% of breastmilk protein will be whey whilst the remaining 40% will be casein. As the breastmilk matures, the amount of casein will increase so the ratio ends up being 50:50. Casein requires more energy for digestion, and whey is always easier to digest. Both of these proteins in breastmilk are easier for the baby to digest than the same proteins when they are in artificial cow’s milk formula.
ESTABLISHING A ROUTINE
In order for you to remain calm and comfortable, you will need to have some sort of routine in place. Maybe you have a favourite chair you could sit in to feed such as a rocking chair or an armchair where your back is well supported. Breastfeeding in bed is not the best idea, your back will get really sore as it needs to be well supported. Perhaps you might consider having a pillow on your lap to support baby or a stool to elevate your feet on. Take your time and don’t feel rushed. This is special Mum/bub time together. Remember that in the early days, you are both learning to breastfeed together.
Remember that it is quite normal for a newborn baby to breastfeed 10 -12 times in 24 hours. Wow, that’s a lot of feeding but perfectly normal. It won’t always be like this, as baby gets a little older they may feed 6-8 times in 24 hours (that’s better isn’t it!). If you have an amazing baby that likes to sleep at night just feed more often during the day (wake them every 3 hours to do this if he/she is sleeping for an extended time at night). And remember that feeds are timed from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next. Let me give you an example: If your baby is having 3 hourly feeds and is fed at 12pm the next feed will be due at 3pm, and this is regardless of how long the feed takes. The feed could take one hour and you may not finish feeding until 1pm, but as you started at 12pm the next feed is still due at 3pm.
STRATEGIES FOR HEALTHY BREASTFEEDING
Successful breastfeeding is I believe a skill, sometimes instinctive and sometimes part of a learning process to master the technique. Breastfeeding is an interactive process between Mother and baby, where each learns from the other whilst establishing a routine.
The most likely indicator of breastfeeding success is having the support of your partner and other family members. A Fathers’ attitude towards breastfeeding will have a direct impact upon the choice to breastfeed and successfully breastfeeding. For this reason, it is so important for Fathers’ to gain as much valuable and informed information as possible around the benefits of breastfeeding for both Mother and baby.
BABY FEEDING CUES
Offer your baby a feed whenever behavioural cues indicate that your baby is hungry. Don’t wait until you baby is crying excessively and upset as latching on to the breast may then be more difficult. Crying is a late stage hunger cue.
* Rapid eye movement: A baby’s eyes move underneath the eyeids indicating that baby is in a light sleep any may shortly wake for feeding.
* Movement: Your baby will start to move and stretch and put his/her hands in mouth.
* Sounds: Your baby will start to make sounds.
* Sucking Motions: Your baby will start sucking motions with her lips and tongue.
* Rooting: When the lips or the area around baby’s mouth is touched, the mouth opens wide and the tongue drops, preparing for the nipple to be drawn in.
A GUIDE TO BREASTFEEDING POSITIONING
* Relax and feel comfortable
* Sit with your back well supported in a chair preferably with arm supports. This will allow your arms to more easily support baby and prevent problems of back discomfort. You may need to rest your feet on a stool depending on your height.
* Use pillows to support baby.
* Baby’s head should be tilted slightly back as if sniffing the air. This position will make it easier for your baby to swallow.
* Baby’s head should be in alignment with his/her body. It is too difficult to swallow if baby’s head is turned to the side (try turning your head to the side and see how difficult it is to swallow).
* Line up baby’s nose with your nipple so that they are opposite each other. This will allow the lowr jaw to come in contact with more of the areola when latching.
* Always bring your baby to your breast, not take your breast to baby.
Source: Kalnins, Daina (2007) Better Breastfeeding: A Mother’s Guide To Feeding And Nutrition