Breastfeeding or nursing is the process by which breast milk is fed to a baby. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby as it provides many nutritional and health benefits. According to World Health Organization, it is recommended that babies are exclusively fed on breast milk for at least six months. However, nearly 2 out of 3 infants globally are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months, a rate that has not improved in two decades.
Although breastfeeding is natural, it is a learned skill for both the mother and baby. A mother should be prepared to practice and have patience. First-time mothers opt for classes to help them learn the basics and avoid common problems. After the first 2-3 weeks the mother will find that breastfeeding will become easier.
Mothers spend many hours feeding and soothing the baby at the breast. For breastfeeding success, a baby has to successfully latch onto the breast when the mother is seated comfortably. The mother should try holding the baby in different positions to find out what works best. Some of the breastfeeding holds include.
- Cradle Hold – this is the most commonly used nursing position. The mother has to sit in a comfortable chair, with armrests if possible. Place the baby on her abdomen, tummy to tummy and start breastfeeding.
- Cross Cuddle Hold – Place a pillow on your lap and put the baby on top of the pillow. Use the hand on the side as the breast to support the baby. Instead of holding the baby’s head in the bend of your elbow as in the cradle hold, hold them with the opposite arm.
- Football Hold – cradle the back of your baby’s neck in your hand with the body under your breast and toward the elbow. Place a pillow under your elbow to support your baby’s bottom. Your other hand supports your breast. This is a good position for mothers who have had a cesarean section.
- Lying Cradle Hold/Side-lying – Lie on your side with one arm supporting your head. Your baby lies beside you with the head facing your breast. Pull the baby closer and put a pillow behind them for support. This is also a good position for a cesarean section as it does not put pressure on the mother’s stomach.
- During the first several weeks, it will seem as if your baby is feeding all the time. This is because breast milk is quickly digested in a baby’s stomach. Therefore, a baby needs to be breastfed at least 8 – 12 times every 24 hours during the first few weeks. Frequent feedings are needed for the baby to gain weight and to stimulate the mother’s body to produce plenty of milk.
Importance of Breastfeeding
As mentioned earlier, breastfeeding is important and some of the benefits of breastfeeding include.
- It supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions to the baby.
- Breastfeeding protects the baby against allergies, sickness, and obesity.
- It protects against diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
- It protects the infant against infections, like ear infections.
- Breast milk is easily digested – the baby does not experience constipation, diarrhoea or upset stomach.
- Babies have healthier weights as they grow.
- Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers in that, mothers who breastfeed:
- Have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer
- May find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant
- Strengthen the bond with their children
Challenges of breastfeeding:
- Sore nipples – Many mothers may experience tender nipples when they start breastfeeding.
- Low Milk Supply – Mothers sometimes worry about whether they are making enough milk for the baby, however, this might not always be the case.
- Engorgement – This is when the breasts feel very full and may be painful.
- Fungal Infection – infections occur on your nipples or in your breasts.
- Exhaustion – Caring for a newborn can be tiring, and breastfeeding may feel harder when you are exhausted.
There’s also a solution for busy mothers, they can pump breast milk and store it in a fridge that could be used when they are at work. They can purchase breast pumps from MYDAWA, they have varieties such as Avent manual breast pump, Medela breast pump harmony manual with flex, and soft shape at affordable prices and get free delivery at your doorstep.4