As we approach World Breastfeeding Week from the 1st to the 7th of August, it is worth commemorating the occasion with information and benefits arising from breastfeeding. If you have been considering not breastfeeding your newborn, you’re probably inundated with information. While it could be a personal decision only you can take, it is worth noting that the benefits of breastfeeding are endless. Before you decide, or if you need reassurance that breast milk is the right choice, let’s go through what it means to breastfeed for you and your baby.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for up to two years from birth and beyond. But the question is: have we ever sought to find out its importance? Well, it is one of the most effective ways to promote child health, and if it was scaled up universally, nearly 850,000 children’s lives would be saved annually. This evidence makes for a very valid reason to promote breastfeeding education.
It is beyond doubt: Breast milk is the ideal nutrition for babies since it contains all the nutrients they need for the first six months of life and helps them grow healthy. We compiled some information on breastfeeding and breast milk to support professionals like medical staff and lactation consultants in their work with expecting and new moms.
Breastfeeding Education for Mothers
Breastfeeding is the normal, unequaled way to feed your baby. Babies need just the mother’s milk for the first six months. Nevertheless, breastfeeding for up to two years or longer is healthy for babies and is encouraged. Health Canada recommends that babies be fed only human milk for the first six months since they do not need any other liquids or foods during that time. Besides, many medical experts, including the American College of Obstetricians, Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for six months. After six months, moms can gradually introduce solid foods starting with those rich in iron. But what is good about breastfeeding?
- It provides all the nutrients that a baby needs to grow and develop
- It protects babies from infections and illnesses
- It strengthens their immunity
- It can be done anytime and anywhere
- It contributes to birth spacing
- It lowers the risk of depression
- It lowers the rate of breast and ovarian cancer in the mother
- It promotes emotional bonding between the mother and infant
- Breast milk is easy to digest
How long you breastfeed depends on whether your baby prefers small, frequent, or longer feedings. This pattern changes as your child grows. Newborns often want to feed every 2-3 hours. Feeding every 3-4 hours is common by the second month, and by six months, most babies feed every 4-5 hours. You and your baby are unique, and the decision to breastfeed is up to you.
Signs your baby is hungry
A bottle-feeding mom can measure the amount of breast milk or formula their child needs. But, if you’re breastfeeding, there isn’t a measurement system marked on your breasts. So, how will you know if you’re making enough breast milk and your baby is getting enough at each feeding? Crying is one of the most common signs that your baby will relay to you when hungry. Other notable signs that your child is ready to feed include:
- Opening their mouth
- Putting their hand in the mouth
- Rooting, which involves moving the jaw, mouth, or head to look for the breast
- Licking their lips or sticking out their tongue
- Sucking on things
Besides, it is common to wonder if your baby is genuinely drinking enough milk at the breast. We know that it is impossible to measure the milk because it can’t be seen. Well, for the first few days after childbirth, your breasts will make colostrum for your baby. This milk is thick and sticky but very nutritious and important for the baby’s immune system. Since your baby will likely feed often, this frequent nursing in the early days helps to signal your breasts to make plenty of milk for the baby. With frequent nursing over the first few days, your body will transition from the super-rich colostrum to mature milk to match your baby’s changing needs. Your baby will continue to nurse often and start to gain weight.
Signs your baby is getting enough milk
It is hard to tell exactly how your baby is feeding if you’re exclusively breastfeeding. Here are signs your baby is getting enough from the breast milk.
- The baby is nursing frequently, 8-12 times per 24-hour period
- The child seems content and happy, releasing the breast on their own
- The baby starts to feed with a few rapid sucks followed by long, rhythmic sucks and swallows with occasional pauses
- You can hear and see the baby swallowing
- They seem calm and relaxed during feeds
- The mouth looks moist after feeds
- Your breasts feel softer after feeds
- Your nipples look more or less the same after feeding – not faltered, white, or pinched.
Breastfeeding and continuing education
Stress and breastfeeding have a complex relationship. However, expecting and nursing mothers who are also students can hardly avoid the former. Being a mother and studying at the same time is exhausting and grueling. Whether you do online classes or attend physical classes, you need a support system to ensure good health for you and your baby. Well, worry not because such professional essay writing services as Custom Writings can help with your academic assignments and research papers, relieving stress that can impact your motherly duties. For instance, they offer reliable, quality, original, and personalized nursing essay writing service, which can give you ample time to nurse your baby and get good grades at the end of the day. Often consider using such custom writing services to avoid stress, which is the number one killer of breastmilk supply.
Prenatal Breastfeeding Education
Breastfeeding education usually occurs during the prenatal and intrapartum periods. First-time mothers report that they find books and written breastfeeding information helpful, while experienced mothers often rely on their past experience, even though they often seek free breastfeeding continuing education online. Although the audience of breastfeeding education is usually pregnant or breastfeeding women, it may also include fathers and others who support the breastfeeding mom. Prenatal breastfeeding education increases mothers’ knowledge and skills, helps them view breastfeeding as normal, and enables them to develop positive attitudes toward breastfeeding. It also offers the opportunity for healthcare professionals to engage with pregnant women and their families when many decisions about infant feeding are being pondered.
While breastfeeding is natural, it is not as simple as putting the baby to the breast. In fact, only about two-thirds of women who want to breastfeed actually achieve their intended duration for exclusive breastfeeding. Therefore, pregnant women should seek antenatal care and information about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Education for Nurses
Nurses should encourage the advancement of breastfeeding by increasing breastfeeding teaching to 100% and decreasing harmful practices, such as limiting suckling, pacifier use, and formula supplements. They should teach and encourage mothers and patients to focus on appropriate hydration, correctly breastfeed with proper positioning, and offer both breasts at each feeding to increase milk supply. Successful and experienced mothers benefit from nurses’ teachings and support before birth and after hospital discharge.
Breastfeeding benefits are so numerous that most healthcare agencies recommend it for everyone for as long as possible. Remember, it is entirely okay if mothers cannot breastfeed for one reason or another.