Breast Feeding it’s Natural!
As a mother, you always desire to give the best to your baby. Breast feeding is a crucial phase in the nurturing of your child. It also has many proven benefits for you and your little one, most of which extend into the adult life of the baby. Sadly, the mystery and myths about the formation of breast milk and the effects of nursing on the mother’s body continue to color the attitudes towards this significant aspect of childcare.
Furthermore, the perspective of society on the feeding of babies and toddlers with milk drawn from a woman’s breast, and the alternatives to it cause confusion and controversy around the issue. Other factors, such as the lack of time for nursing, further make nursing challenging. But it is important to establish the truth about breastfeeding.
When Should You Breast Feed?
The past several years show a steady increase in breastfeeding rates. As of 2013, the CDC reported that 77% of new mothers were nursing their babies, up from the 71% reported ten years earlier. Pediatricians recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for the initial six months of their lives.
After the six month, you can wean your baby. But even then, breast feeding should continue until at least the age of two, or for as long as the baby wants it. The more you nurse, the less the likelihood of milk levels running low since your body produces more milk.
Crying is among the last signs of hunger in an infant. You should nurse your baby whenever he shows signs of hunger, preferably before he starts crying. In his initial months of life, you might need to rouse your baby from his endless hours of sleep to feed him. Nursing between eight to twelve times a day is recommended.
Benefits of Breast Feeding
Immediately before and after delivery, your breast milk contains colostrum. This is a protein which contains antibodies to boost your baby’s immune system to enable him to fight diseases and infections. Another benefit of colostrum is that it relaxes the baby’s digestive system to enable the passing of the first stool, meconium, which in turn helps prevent jaundice.
Colostrum has high levels of vitamin A and sodium chloride and fewer amounts of lipids, carbohydrates and potassium – unlike the mature milk the mother produces later on. The composition and amount of your breast milk change over time depending on the needs of your baby.
- It forms a strong bond between you and your baby
- Breast milk is readily available any time your baby needs it
- It decreases your risk of ovarian and breast cancer
- It controls obesity in you and the baby
- It counters osteoporosis
- It lowers chances of infancy leukemia
- It prevents sudden infant death syndrome
- It reduces type 2 diabetes
- It diminishes the risk of vomiting and diarrhea
- Breast milk is perfectly composed for your child’s nutritional needs
The Best Diet for You While Breast Feeding
Whatever you ingest passes on to your breast milk. Like many concerned moms, you may worry about your intake of different foods, medications, and beverages and their consequent effects on your little one. If your child shows early signs of allergies and discomfort, your doctor will analyze your diet to confirm if you need to adjust it while breastfeeding to enhance your baby’s health.
It’s also important to stay hydrated with pure water while you’re breastfeeding.
You must take a balanced diet to ensure your milk contains adequate nutrients for your baby’s growth. With the ongoing demand on your body to produce milk, you may discover that you often feel hungry. Take frequent meals and beverages and healthy snacks in between. You need close to 500 more calories during your breastfeeding phase.
What is very important is to pay close attention to what you are eating. This way if your baby starts acting uncomfortable in any way you can review your food intake and determine if it is related to what she/he is experiencing through your milk.
If you still have problems you may need to keep a food diary.
Here’s some Important Facts to Know While Breast Feeding.
Caffeine – An intake of more than 300 mg daily will affect your baby since the caffeine will accumulate in his system after getting in by way of nursing. Ideally avoid stimulants of any kind as they may cause irritability and restlessness in your sweet one.
Spices and Seasonings – It’s not a big deal if the milk gets some zest from your favorite spicy dishes – baby loves variety too. But if your child gets fussy and gassy every time you feed him after you consume certain foods, eliminate them and observe if there is any improvement.
Alcohol – As you gradually start easing back to your normal life after pregnancy and delivery, you may have questions about drinking and breastfeeding. Can you take a glass of wine or beer? Will the alcohol affect your child even if you don’t get tipsy? How much alcohol is harmful while nursing?
Alcohol has adverse effects on your baby’s sleeping and eating patterns. If you take alcoholic beverages within four hours of breast feeding, the baby consumes about 20% less milk. He may also fall asleep faster but sleep for a shorter period, which may make him irritable. Poor sleep and feeding patterns can slow down your child’s development.
Since a baby’s digestive system and liver are not adequately developed to process alcohol, a lactating mother should avoid drinking while breastfeeding until the baby is at least three months old or ideally while breast feeding at all.
The amount of time taken by the body to process and eliminate alcohol varies from one person to another. Alcohol content in the blood is highest between thirty-five to ninety minutes after having a drink. You can take your drink immediately after nursing so that you have a stretch of at least four hours before the next feed.
Alternatively, you can pump or express milk and store it before having a drink. Breast milk can even be frozen for future use. Bottle feeding breast milk ensures your baby has no contact with the alcohol in your system. Make sure you eat beforehand and take water alongside the drink to reduce alcohol amounts in your blood and to enhance its faster elimination from your breast milk.
Embrace Breast Feeding and Enhance Your Baby’s Health
Breast feeding is a gift to you and your baby, with benefits that last the rest of his life. As you learn how to breast feed and how to read your baby’s cues, you will find it easier to surmount the challenges of nursing. Talk to a pediatrician or join a support group for moms to make the most of this short but fulfilling journey with your baby.
Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.