Sadly, with the amount of ‘formulas’ available on the market nowadays, many children are never actually being breastfed. Which is a great shame as there are a number of advantages. In this article I want to run through with you some of the most basic of breastfeeding information, not only am I going to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding, but I am also going to mention a little bit about how to perform it (even in public locations) and then a little bit about weaning your child off it. So without further ado, let’s crack on.
So what are the advantages of breastfeeding?
Well, in order to discover this we need to know a little about what breast milk contains. To put it in the simplest way possible, breast milk is known as colostrum. It is a thick, yellow-coloured liquid. In fact, many people have referred to it as ‘liquid gold’. One of the major benefits on the system here is that it is incredibly rich in nutrients and antibodies. These are going to help your baby thrive outside of the womb, and that means protecting it from disease and the like. As your baby gets older, the make-up of your breast milk is also going to change. The nutrients that are passed over to your child develop and the milk ‘matures’. This is nature’s way of helping your baby grow properly. Many experts recommend that premature babies are breastfed as opposed to formula fed as it means that they get the right nutrients to lead a healthy life. Just to prove how effective breast milk is at staving off disease, did you know that breastfed babies have a significantly lower chance of developing infections during the early stages of their life ? Which I feel is one of the biggest advantages of breastfeeding, after all, nobody wants to see their child suffer right ! It has also been shown to lower diseases later in life such as asthma, obesity and even Type 2 Diabetes. Did you know that if everybody turned to breastfeeding, for six months, over 1000 infant deaths would be avoided ? That is a huge amount, and it should be more than enough to spur you onto this.
Another reason as to why you should always opt for breastfeeding over formula is because your child is naturally able to absorb its mother’s milk. As you can probably guess, formula is made from cow’s milk and your child will have a hard time absorbing all of the nutrients at the start of their life. In fact, some may not even be able to tolerate it at all, and that is just going to lead to infection. In my opinion, the only time that a baby should not be having breast milk is if the mother has certain medical conditions which would mean that it is unsafe.
There are a number of benefits of breastfeeding for the mother too. This includes getting to feel closer to their child, in fact, studies have shown that children feel far closer to their mothers when they are breastfed, which of course is going to be highly beneficial to you. In addition to this, it has also been shown to reduce the risk of some conditions in mothers too, although research into this is currently on going. Finally, there is absolutely no hassle in constantly sterilizing bottles and the like, perhaps more importantly though, it saves a lot of money. After all, formula is going to be incredibly expensive for you! Breast milk is free.
What many women fail to realize is that if they want their baby to be as healthy as possible, there is a special breastfeeding diet that they need to follow. In short, this means that they are going to need to eat healthy, and of course give up cigarettes and alcohol. After all, this stuff will hamper the production of breast milk and could even have the side effect of allowing unsavoury things to get into your child’s system, and this is of course not something that you want right? Just try to eat as healthy as you can. Experts do suggest that you avoid eating fish as much as you possibly can, and if possible take Vitamin D supplements each day. Talk to your doctor about this. Try to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Your child should get everything that they need from this without too much issue!
Now that is out of the way we can cover a few of the breastfeeding basics. I am sure that the hospital would have taught you how to breastfeed, so I shall keep this brief. The main intention is to provide a bit of information for those females who are a bit worried about breastfeeding but who haven’t had a child yet. Don’t worry, the breastfeeding basics are pretty easy to learn! You can take a breastfeeding class if you wish.
Lucky for you, your child is naturally going to be looking for your nipple, which does make breastfeeding a whole lot easier. You just need to get your baby to latch onto your nipple in order to take the milk. This may take slightly longer. Firstly you need to support your baby well, keep them upright with their head under your chin. Then slowly guide your child towards the breast. Their mouth will naturally open wide as they feel the cushion of your breast, and it will start reaching out for the nipple. Keep your baby’s upper back supported throughout this and you should be fine. The only real difficulty you are going to have is the first couple of times, then it becomes second nature.
When you are breastfeeding I really do suggest that you look into breastfeeding tops. These are designed to give you easy access to your breasts whenever your child is craving some milk. In addition to that, some of the breastfeeding tops on the market are designed to offer privacy, which means they can be used in public without anybody complaining (a common problem nowadays). Don’t forget to check reviews of the various tops on the market in order to ensure that you choose the right one for you.
weaning off breastfeeding
Of course, your child isn’t going to be wanting to use breast milk forever, so let’s talk a little bit about weaning off breastfeeding. Experts suggest that you use only breast milk on your child for the first six months of their life. At this point you will want to switch to a combination of breast milk and solid foods. Try to make this process as gradual as you possibly can, after all, your baby won’t be prepared for this change. Of course, how you go about weaning off breastfeeding is up to you. Many experts suggest that you start the process by giving them a bottle of breast milk, that way they would have been getting their milk from another source, and that makes the whole process far easier for your child!
As I mentioned at the start, this is just a few of the breastfeeding basics, but hopefully it will alleviate some of your concerns about breastfeeding! If you require any further information then don’t forget to ask your care provider, they will be more than happy to help you out.