Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby and Mother
Breastfeeding benefits not only the baby but also the mother. It helps ensure the infant’s proper growth and development and the mom’s recovery. Here’s everything you need to know about breastfeeding.
The Benefits of Breastmilk for Babies
Medical experts and various health institutions emphasize that breastmilk is the best food for babies in the first year of their lives. In fact, doctors and pediatricians encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies from 0 to 6 months old. The reason for this is that breastmilk offers a lot of benefits for the baby.
It Promotes the Baby’s Health and Offers Protection
Breastmilk contains just the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that your baby needs for healthy growth and development. On top of that, it also has vital nutrients like fatty acids that promote their eye and brain health.
Additionally, experts believe that breastfeeding benefits the baby by protecting them from various health conditions, such as:
- Otitis media
- Respiratory tract infections
- Childhood overweight and obesity
It Changes As Your Baby’s Needs Change
However, if there’s one fascinating thing about breastmilk that no infant formula can achieve, it is the fact that it changes over time. And these changes are tailored to accommodate what your baby needs at the moment.
For the first few days after giving birth, the breastmilk will appear thick and sticky. This is the early form of breastmilk called colostrum. Colostrum has a lot of immunological components (antibodies) capable of protecting your baby in the first days of their lives. Many doctors even consider this as your baby’s first vaccine.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers
Surprisingly, breastfeeding not only benefits the baby, but it also helps mommies.
The most immediate advantage of breastfeeding is faster recovery. This happens through the release of the hormone, oxytocin which encourages the return of the womb to its previous, pre-pregnancy state.
One more benefit that you may be glad about is this: when you are breastfeeding, you can burn around 500 calories daily to ensure adequate milk supply for your infant. This can lead to weight loss.
Aside from the physical benefits of breastfeeding, it also has emotional and practical benefits for the mother. Learn more about the 10 benefits of breastfeeding for mommies in this article:
Breastfeeding Nutrition and Tips
After discussing how breastfeeding benefits both mom and child, let’s talk about a major issue among some mothers: lack of milk supply.
Often, no matter how much you want to continue breastfeeding, you couldn’t help but stop because you no longer have enough milk to give your infant. Good thing you can take advantage of nutrition to remedy this problem.
The Best Food for Breastfeeding Moms
The following foods promote the mother’s health and might even help in increasing milk supply:
- Whole grains
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Lean meat and poultry
- Sardines and salmon
- Sweet potato or kamote
- Nuts and seeds
Another easy-to-acquire food that may increase milk production is malunggay. If you’re looking for ways on how to add malunggay to your diet, you can check out this article for a couple of recipes:
The Best Breastfeeding Positions
As much as expert mothers make it seem like an easy task, getting the best breastfeeding benefits requires a bit of learning, especially when it comes to ensuring that the baby is comfortable and attaching well.
Typically, you can guarantee attachment through proper positioning. Below are two of the best positions for breastfeeding.
- Cradle Position. In this position, you and your child are chest-to-chest. Use the arm on the side of your breast where the baby will attach. Cradle his head near your elbow, support his back using your arm and hold his bottom with your hand. This is the typical position we associate with breastfeeding. It’s also easy to learn for first-time mommies.
- Clutch Position. This is also called the “football hold.” In this position, the baby is tucked under your arm, as if you are carrying a football. Hold the baby’s head and support his back using your arms. If you have undergone a c-section, this is perhaps the best position as you wouldn’t be placing pressure on your abdomen.
Aside from these, you still have options such as the cross-cradle position and side-lying position which is great for late-night feedings.
New Moms’ Guide to Pumping and Storage
For mommies who need to go back to work but still want their baby to get the breastfeeding benefits, they have the option to pump breastmilk in advance and store it for future feeding.
3 Ways to Express Breastmilk
There are 3 methods in expressing breastmilk.
- Hand expression. This is the least expensive among the 3 methods as you only need to use your hands to express milk. Hand expression is a great method if you’re not often away from your baby. Additionally, experts also indicate that mothers should learn how to express by hand in case of an emergency where manual or electric pumps are absent.
- Manual pump expression. On the other hand, if you are away from your baby once in a while, you may use a manual pump. In this method, you need to coordinate your hand and wrist to operate the device. A word of caution, though: according to reports, expressing by manual pump puts you at risk of breast infection.
- Electric breast pump expression. If you need to collect more milk faster, you may find the use of an electric breast pump helpful as it can pump on both breasts at a time. This is great if you already need to go back to work or school. However, the device is quite expensive and you need to clean it thoroughly between uses.
Tips on Storage
After expressing the breastmilk, consider the following storage tips to ensure that your baby is getting the best of the breastfeeding benefits:
- Be careful with your containers or storage bags. Some bottles are not safe as they may contain BPA; try to avoid plastic containers with recycling symbol “7.”
- As breastmilk expands when frozen, allow a little space in the container or bag.
- Freshly expressed milk can be stored at room temperature for only up to 4 hours, up to 4 days in the refrigerator, and 6 months to 1 year in the freezer.
- Hence, if your baby will not use the milk within the next 4 days, store it straight to the freezer.
- Avoid keeping milk in the door of the fridge or freezer to protect it from temperature changes.
- Store milk in feeding amounts (2 to 4 ounces) to avoid wastage.
- Don’t forget to label the containers with the date of expression.
Common Health Issues
While breastfeeding, you may experience some issues. Two of them are nipple thrush and itchy nipples.
Thrush is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of the Candida albicans bacteria. When a breastfeeding mom suffers from nipple thrush, she may experience excruciating pain during or in between feeds.
Another common issue while breastfeeding is itchy nipples. Thrush, along with other causes such as eczema and mastitis, may trigger the itch. Fortunately, there are many home remedies to manage this condition, such as switching breastfeeding positions, proper cleaning and wiping after each feeding session, and the use of nursing pads.
As much as breastfeeding benefits both mom and child, it has to end at some point. Weaning is the process of ending breastfeeding. It starts when your baby consumes solid foods several times a day and ends when they are no longer taking any breastmilk.
There are three ways to wean your baby:
- Traditional, using mashed foods or store-bought puree.
- Baby-led, where the baby will be presented with little bits of solid foods and they’ll feed themselves under your supervision.
- Combination, which incorporates both traditional and baby-led methods
The different breastfeeding benefits cover not only the physical health of both mother and infant, but also the emotional aspect such as self-esteem, confidence, and bonding. Please remember that the breastfeeding experience is different for each mom. Some may find it easy, while others may consider it uncomfortable. At the end of the day, it’s okay for mothers to seek help and guidance during this stage.
Learn more about Parenting here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.