Both you and your baby benefit from breastfeeding and feeding can be a very loving time for you and the new bub to spend together. Breast milk has all the right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins for your baby’s growth and development. Your breast milk also contains antibodies to help your baby’s vulnerable immune system ward off diseases and infections like pneumonia and diarrhoea.
It is recommended that women without any health problems breastfeed their babies for at least the first 6 months after birth. Aim to start breastfeeding your baby as soon as possible as just after birth a nutritional substance called Colostrum is produced and this is incredibly beneficial for your baby.
Not everyone wants to breastfeed and many find it difficult, which is why we have done our best to explain why it’s so important to try and breastfeed and how to actually do it. It can be harder than you think. There’s also a great selection of Huggies’ top tips and techniques for successfully nursing of your baby.
Some mothers decide not to breastfeed and instead use formula because they are worried about what breastfeeding might do to their breasts. Other women try to breastfeed and find it very difficult and so choose to use formula instead. Unless you have serious health issues (like HIV or Hepatitis), you should try and breastfeed, to nourish your baby. As mentioned above breast milk contains natural disease fighters (anti-bodies) to fortify your baby’s fragile immune system.
Breast milk is very easy for bub to digest, so there’s less spit and vomit for you to clean up, which is always a bonus. What’s more, breasts are (as you would know) very portable and don’t need to be prepared, warmed, washed (well except for the odd shower) or sterilised – a fact you’ll appreciate when your hungry baby bellows for his next meal during a party, shopping trip or in the middle of the night.
Breastfeeding is also good for mums. Breastfeeding causes the release of certain hormones that help a mother bond with her baby. These hormones relax you and cause you to feel particularly ‘motherly’ towards your baby. There’s also the physical closeness of breastfeeding, which further aids the bonding process.
Some studies show that breastfeeding can help you lose a lot of the weight that you may have put on during pregnancy. For reasons not completely understood, breastfeeding may reduce the chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding has also been found to reduce the incidence of osteoporosis in nursing mums.
How To Breastfeed
Breastfeeding is supposed to be one of the most natural things a new mum can do – but is it really? New mums have been doing it for millions of years but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy, especially if this is your first shot at it. Huggies’ guide to breastfeeding will help you get it right.
The first thing you need to do is position yourself correctly, make sure you are sitting in a comfortable chair or sofa with your feet up. Place a pillow behind your back and on your lap to support your baby. It’s important that you are relaxed and comfortable. You baby should be lying sideways with their face positioned towards you and with their head level with your nipple. Use your fingers to support your breast as you offer the nipple to your baby. Make sure your fingers are out of the way so they don’t interfere when your baby latches onto your nipple.
If your baby turns his head away from your nipple, gently stroke his face (on the side closest to you). This will cause your baby to face towards your nipple. To get your baby to open his mouth, gently rock him towards and then away from your nipple. When your baby’s mouth is open wide, gently move him towards your breast (chin first). You need to make sure that your baby’s bottom lip and tongue make contact with your breast first. Once he latches on, hold him firmly against your breast. To suck properly, your baby will need to squeeze the area behind the nipple with his mouth. When your baby is finished nursing off the first breast, put your finger into your baby’s mouth to release the sucking, and offer the other breast.
Aim to breastfeed for 10 to 15 minutes per breast 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.
- Try to offer your baby your breast as soon as you can after giving birth, even in the delivery room if this is possible
- Limit the amount of visitors you have right after you give birth so there are ample opportunities for you to bond with and nurse your baby
- Breastfeed for as long as necessary. Some newborns may need up to 45 minutes to complete a feed
- Try not to restrict the amount of time or frequency of breastfeeding
- Don’t try to breastfeed a crying baby. Calm your baby down first and then start to breastfeed
- If your nipples are sore or cracked try a soothing ointment or balm. Make sure it’s non-toxic and specifically for breastfeeding mums. Some mums find their own breast milk soothes sore nipples
- Long before you start breastfeeding you should quit smoking as it can make the milk taste bad for your baby
- Try to avoid underwire bra’s whilst breastfeeding as these can cause infection
Breastfeeding is vitally important to for your baby’s health. It is also a very important part of the bonding process. If you are having difficulties with breastfeeding, there are many breastfeeding support groups and nurses out there who can work with you to solve your breastfeeding problems so you can enjoy this wonderful part of being a mother.
For more information see Baby Care.