Every year, the first week of August is celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week to spread awareness about the benefits breastfeeding has on the child and the mother.
The Magical Breastmilk
Your breast milk has everything that your baby needs. It strengthens your bond with your baby and imparts innumerable health benefits to both. It protects your baby from infections and helps them grow. It benefits mothers by helping them get back in shape and protecting against breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Answers to 5 most common questions about breastfeeding
1. Can breastfeeding result in saggy breasts?
No, breastfeeding does not cause saggy breasts, pregnancy does. During pregnancy, the breasts become fuller and heavier, stretching the ligaments present in your breasts. This makes your breasts become saggy, irrespective of whether or not you breastfeed. To prevent this, exercise regularly, eat well and quit smoking.
Did you know you should start breastfeeding your baby within the first hour of birth?
Read more details about breastfeeding
2. How frequently should you breastfeed your baby?
It totally depends on how frequently your baby feels hungry. Usually, in the first month of birth, babies need to be nursed every 1-3 hours. They may feel hungry often because breast milk digests easily. With time, your baby will need around 7-9 nursings per day. And, by the time they’re 2-3 months old, you’ll be able to predict when your baby may need feeding.
Babies may want to feed more often when they undergo rapid growth. They may feed more often when they’re:
– 7-14 days old
– 2 months old
– 4 months old
– 6 months old
3. How to alternate breasts while feeding?
Feeding your child from both breasts helps maintain sufficient levels of milk and prevents your breasts from getting overfilled with milk. If you and your baby feel comfortable, you can switch the breast in between feeding. If switching in-between feeding doesn’t work for you, you can latch your baby on the alternate breast on the next feed.
4. Is breastfeeding painful?
Breastfeeding may feel painful if your child feeds solely through your nipple and not your areola (the darker area surrounding the nipple). Breastfeeding may feel uncomfortable at first, but to ensure proper latching on, follow C.H.I.N.:
– C for close: Hold your baby so close to your body and breast that they’re able to reach your breast easily.
– H for Head free: Support their neck with your arm in such a way that they’re able to move their head freely to latch on.
– I for In line: Your baby’s head, body, feet should be in a straight line, facing towards you.
– N for Nose to Nipple: Your baby’s nose should be in front of your nipple. Brush your child’s lower lip or nose with your nipple. This will make them open their mouth like a yawn. Bring your baby to your breast. Your baby’s chin should touch the breast. Ideally, your baby should take a mouthful of your areola.
Your nipples may feel sore during the first few days.
Explore nursing and feeding products to make breastfeeding easy.
5. Till what age should you breastfeed your baby?
Breast milk should be your child’s sole source of food until they’re 6 months old. After this, you should start giving them mashed solid foods. This will help meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Breastfeeding can continue as long as you and your baby desire. WHO recommends breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or even beyond.
Babies don’t need water till the age of 6 months as your breast milk is 88% water.
Talk to an expert to find out more
Your breast milk is your baby’s source of nutrition. Have a healthy balanced diet that is rich in protein, fruits, and veggies. Don’t forget to avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and seafood.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)