Breast milk has been the ultimate elixir for all newborn babies since the beginning of time. Breast feeding provides overall optimal development for the baby and also provides immense benefits to the mother as well. It is quite normal for a newborn baby to want frequent feeds even as many as 12 in 24 hours. Frequent feeding during the first few days gets milk production going and your baby and your baby will soon start sleeping longer between feeds.
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Here are some the benefits of Breastfeeding:
Benefits for Mothers
Mothers who breastfeed as soon as possible after birthing the baby have decreased risk of bleeding after birth. It also helps the uterus to shrink back to its normal size faster. Breastfeeding protects mothers from cancers such as breast, uterine and cervical cancers in the long term.
For all weight conscious mothers out there exclusive breastfeeding helps mothers to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight and shape earlier. Exclusive breastfeeding can also help with family planning as periods can be delayed. This is however only true in the case of exclusively breastfeeding mothers. While feeding the baby it is very important for the mothers to hold your baby close with its body facing yours and your arm should be around your waist.
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Benefits for babies
A lot has been spoken and written about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies. Babies receive optimal nutrition from breast milk and require no additional water even in peak summer months while breastfeeding. Breast milk contains the correct composition of nutrients required for an infant’s growth and development and this composition dynamically changes as the baby grows.
If a baby is unwell then the breast milk composition alters to provide the additional energy that the baby needs. Breast milk helps with increasing the baby’s immunity which means that an exclusively breastfed baby needs less visits to the pediatrician for commonly occurring illnesses such as cough, cold etc. Breastfed babies have been shown to have increased IQ compared to their formula fed counterparts.
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Breastfeeding Friendly policies
All healthy babies after being born should be placed in skin to skin contact with the mother as soon as possible. This helps the baby to remain warm and makes the transition from the womb to the outside world easier. Skin to skin contact also allows the baby to look for the breast on its own and initiate the first breastfeed with minimal assistance. Skin to skin contact can be done by all mothers irrespective of whether they have delivered normally or by a c-section. This process of skin to skin contact culminating in first feed is known globally as the Golden Hour after birth. Golden hour of breastfeeding helps to initiate the process of breastfeeding with very minimal interruptions thereby which baby learn to breastfeed more effectively and leads to overall increased duration of breastfeeding.
Frequently asked questions by new moms
As new moms you may always have questions like how long should each feed last, should both the breasts be offered at every feed and till when should the new mom continue to breastfeed and so on. It is important for the mothers to know that some babies will need short, fast feeds while others prefer to chomp away slowly. Hence the nursing time of the babies varies through the day on a day to day basis. He or she may be satisfied in a few minutes on some occasions or may want to suck for 20/20 minutes at other feeds.
New moms should take another decision for the baby – if the baby has enough feed at one breast then he/she will drop off to sleep and let go of the nipple. It is pointless to wake the baby up to offer the other side, save it for the next feed.
Mothers should know that Breastmilk is a complete food and includes everything that the baby needs, therefore while understanding the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding at birth, it is important to carry out breastfeeding till 6 months after birth. There is usually no need of extra juice, water or solid food until the baby is about six months old. Surrounding yourself with positive support is a key to successful breastfeeding.
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It is important that new moms should attend lactation workshops and counselling sessions under the guidance of expert lactation consultants to learn more about breastfeeding.