Breast Feed your baby within the first year to provide the best and most ideal nutrition. Find out the benefits of breastfeeding and why giving your baby mother's milk is good for you too.
When does Breast milk come in?
In the first 2-4 days after delivery, the breast secretion is yellow colostrum. This contains 5 times more protein than breastmilk. It contains high amounts of antibodies, but less carbohydrate and fat. It is gradually replaced by mature breastmilk.
The composition of human milk varies greatly from mother to mother, day to day and feed to feed. It also depends on the duration of gestation and the method of collection. There is more fat in the early morning feed. Normally the first part of the milk from the breast looks watery, having a low fat content while the last part is richest in fat. The high fat content at the end actually helps the baby to sleep.
So eat healthily while you are breast feeding, drink lots of milk suitable for nursing moms and take your Omega fish oils. I tasted my own breastmilk and it was extremely fishy, mainly because I took a lot of fish oil. This is good for baby's brain development and visual acuity, as well as the mother's heart. Bonus!
After breastfeeding my first 2 girls for about 3 years, I found it almost impossible to stop as they would wail and insist that they wanted to drink from the breast. In the end, I had no choice but to go cold turkey as I was pregnant again. It was pretty traumatising for my kids and me. I am sure there are many mothers who struggle to breast feed for as long as they can and then discover that their kids don't want to stop. It's a case of too much of a good thing, I guess.
Benefits of Breastfeeding -
Breast milk feeding is strongly encouraged now, compared to 30 to 40 years ago when it was a show of status to formula feed your baby. The breast milk vs formula milk battle has essentially been won by the lactating breast! ;D
Advantages for Baby
Advantages for a Nursing Mother
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Nursing mothers who choose to breast feed must know that we will have less freedom than if you bottle feed. Anyone can bottle feed a baby. Even if you want to go shopping, return to work or take a short break from the baby, no can do. You still have to continue pumping the milk out or your milk flow might be interrupted.
Always wear proper breast support during lactation. Everyone is scared of saggy breasts after pregnancy, but while you are breastfeeding, going up 1-3 cup sizes is not impossible. You may also experience painful overdistension of the breast and soreness of the nipple. To prevent mastitis or breast abscess, when you feel the beginnings of an aching lump, immediately use a hot compress or just simply a hot towel placed on the affected area. I used a hot water bottle and it really helped. It should dissipate. If you get a fever, it is time to see a doctor.
The stools of fully breastfed babies are soft and loose. Don't worry about it, it's more work but it is perfectly normal, it also doesn't stink as badly as stools from formula fed babies.
Don't worry that you might not be having enough breast milk for your baby, as long as your baby is gaining weight according to his age, have confidence in yourself.
Lastly, apparently, Baby colic is more frequent in breastfed babies. Click here for Colic remedies for Baby colic.
Recommended reading if you can find the book (It costs US$134.99 on Amazon.com!) : 'The Normal Child' by Ronald S Illingworth. I always refer to this book which was a textbook used by my husband who is a doctor. Dr Illingworth was a paediatrician who has seen more than 50,000 babies, infants and toddlers. The book covers practically everything you might possibly encounter in early childhood.
Apparently newborn babies can survive for up to 3 days without any milk, considering that your colostrum comes after about 2 days, it's logical.
Unfortunately I didn't know this with my first child, she was bawling her eyeballs out, no matter what we did. My husband and I were at a loss for what to do next. In the end, I pushed her back to the nursery in the hospital and the nurse gave her some sugar water(?). After my milk started, there wasn't much problem except for blocked ducts once in a while. This was easily solved by using a hot towel or hot water bottle, though it was excruciating then.
When my girls continued nursing for about 3 years, my gynaecologist said that there might not be any more breastmilk. I kind of suspected that I had just become a giant pacifier! Now the problem was getting my girls to stop nursing. Funny thing was I found that when I finally stopped breastfeeding my kids, I really missed the closeness we had, hugging them close to my chest.
Pumping breast milk and storing breast milk for your baby to drink can be a tedious process. Absolute hygiene must be maintained. The mechanics of it is also important. You have to decide if you want a single pump or double pump; manual breast pump or electric breast pump; they also come with the optional battery operated feature like the Medela mini electric breast pump.
You might also consider breast pump rental if you want a hospital grade breast pump.
Pros and Cons
Single breast pump - It takes longer for you to complete pumping both breasts. After the let-down reflex in your first breast, you might find that you can pump less breast milk with your second breast if you don't have a let down again. However, you can choose to breast feed your baby and express breast milk from the other side at the same time. If you have the Medela mini breast pump, it is so convenient to carry about.
Double breast pumps - You can get the job done pronto. No wasting of time (we have too many things to do already!). So many different models of double breast pumps are available now, you are spoilt for choice.
Manual breast pumps - An electric breast pump is an investment. I have had friends who wanted to save money or didn't think they would be pumping breast milk very often. The let-down reflex that causes breast milk to be released from your breast is mood and hormone related. Stress and pumping manually until your fingers ache is really not conducive to having a let down, which makes matters worse.
Electric breast pumps - Like the Medela Mini Electric Breast pump or the Philips Avent Electric Breast pump that I have, they can be operated by battery or electricity, whichever suits you. Use rechargeable batteries to be as green as possible.
Breast pump rental - If you don't want to breast feed for too long or don't want the expense of buying a new one, you can consider renting a breast pump. (Though the idea of using a breast pump someone else has used seems a little icky to me).
Hospital grade breast pump - During my time many years ago, these breast pumps were huge monstrosities and double breast pumps were not very common. Now the best double breast pumps are comparable to the hospital grade ones.
I tried the two most popular brands for the best breast pumps : Medela and Philips Avent. Both were good in their own way.
In Singapore, Medela is the most popular brand of breast pump.
Best Breast Pump -
Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump
This was the first breast pump I bought. It was fantastic. Battery or electricity-operated, easy to use and convenient to carry around. However, it was a single breast pump, meant to be portable.
Amazingly, my Medela mini breast pump is still working great after more than 8 years. It has been very handy and I could even bring it on holidays. There are no tubes and wires to get in the way.
Medela breast pumps use the smaller standard slim neck milk bottles. Other brands of baby bottles such as Pigeon and Nuk have this similar standard size slim neck.
This smaller size bottle mouth is great for younger babies who aren't consuming large quantities of milk yet. Get your baby used to drinking water by letting him suck a little water after each milk feed, and then burping him.
Philips Avent Electric Breast Pump
The Philips Avent Breast Pump comes as a single or double breast pump. The Single breast pump is handy and you can even pump one breast while you are feeding your baby on the other side.
The trick about breast feeding is that the more you breast feed, the more breast milk you produce. Your breast milk can refill within an hour according to my lactation consultant. The trigger is actually your baby emptying your breast of milk that causes more milk to be produced.
It is such a pity that many mothers don't give their bodies a chance. I know of many moms who give up within the first few days of trying, saying that they couldn't produce enough milk. Perhaps they didn't realize that the initial milk they produce is the most nutritious colostrum before the normal breast milk comes in only after 3 to 4 days.
I found the Philips Avent breast pump a little quirky to use sometimes, and not as easy to use as the Medela one. It may be a matter of personal preference though. I found the wire leading to the battery pack quite cumbersome.
Avent bottles come in the standard wide neck. Other brands of milk bottles that offer this wide neck are Pigeon and Dr Brown baby bottles.
If you are looking for a Baby Monitor, please read the Best Baby Monitor product review.
* Please note that I have only done reviews on products I have used personally. I am quite an anal-retentive mom, so I compare the many brands / models / varieties available before I purchase a product. I have written about the products I really loved. I don't want to make any harsh criticisms of products that were less than stellar ;-)
Stock up on all the essentials needed for your motherhood maternity needs and new baby at Mother & Baby Fairs which happen every month or so. You can also find lots of educational materials located all in one venue for convenience.
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