The topic of breast-feeding is under long and inexhaustible discussion. And we would be wrong if we tried to put the whole amount of material on this question into a nut shell. So, we’re going to introduce several articles about the topic, and this one is the first of them. Here, we’re going to tell you how to organize the breast-feeding for your baby, how often to give the breast to a child, how and for what to express milk and how to stop breast-feeding at night.
The amount of milk depends on the baby’s active eating. To get maximum activity, you should have a careful look at how the baby takes your breast. Her\his mouth should take not only the very nipple, but the areola round it.
How to Give the Breast to a Child: The Start of the Lactation Cycle
How breast milk is produced
Mammary glands begin to change during your pregnancy. Every pregnant woman can notice that her breasts become bigger and denser. On first 2-3 days after the child’s birth the mammary glands give not milk, but the so-called “colostrum”. It’s a primary kind of milk which is very different from the very breast milk by its composition and fat content. Colostrum is very useful for babies. It contents a great amount of protein, microelements and fat-soluble vitamins, but lacks carbohydrates. Such mixture gives your baby the strong immune system, creates the initial intestinal microflora, nourishes the baby and is assimilated well.
It’s very important to give the breast to a child at once after the birth or at least during the first 24 hours. You ask why? Irina Rjuhova, a breastfeeding consultant of the Russian association for natural breastfeeding and an author of the book “How To Give Your Baby Good Health. Breastfeeding”, explained: “The first breastfeeding is the acceptance of each other, the first acquaintance and it should take place within first 24 hours. Moreover, foremilk is natural and the most useful kind of babies’ nourishment which protects him or her from various diseases and provides his\her natural development during first days of his or her existence.” After all, foremilk is low-fat and can be slightly purgative and help to relax your baby’s bowels and get rid it of meconium (the first stool). So the child’s bowels can remove bilirubin together with meconium. And it minimizes the danger of jaundice.”
Colostrum is produced in a small amount – 20-30 ml per one breastfeeding. But unlike mature milk, foremilk is constantly produced without any stopping. Nature created such a mechanism to make young mothers give their breasts to their babies as often as possible during first days after birth. Why? It makes your baby suck the breast very often and irritates its nipple in such a way. The more the nipple is irritated, the more and the quicker the milk there will be.
By the end of the third day breasts begin to produce transitional milk and in 2-3 weeks the new mother can feed her baby with natural mature milk.
“Milk farm”: what does the amount of milk depend on?
If the baby sucks the breast actively, he\she, as a rule, needs the whole amount of milk from one or even two breasts within one breastfeeding. In this case you don’t have to express the rest of the milk. However, women usually complain not of the milk excess, but of the milk deficiency. It seems to them that breasts don’t have time to become full with milk between breastfeeding periods, that breast are half empty and the baby stays hungry. Many mothers begin to pay their attention to the variety of infant formulas and feed the baby with them. But breastfeeding specialists don’t advise to do it.
They insist that to give the empty breast to the baby isn’t useless, but on the contrary it stimulates the milk production. As the lactation process begins in the woman’s mind and it’s necessary to give it the stimulus which can help to fill the breasts with milk. Active breast sucking is the very stimulus. The baby sucks the empty breast and the mind gets the signal that there is a need for milk and some time later milk comes to the breasts.
If you want to have regular breastfeeding, don’t give up giving your breast to the baby, on the contrary do it as often as possible. Even if the breasts are empty and it looks like teasing the child.
You can try to regulate your breastfeeding for 2-3 days without any further problems for your baby’s health. And only if you don’t have enough milk after these three days and your baby doesn’t eat enough of it for his or her normal development, you should go to the shop and buy infant formula as an additional source of nourishment for your child.
The formation of breastfeeding can take you several days, but you should put up with your baby’s crying and your weight loss to get the regular breastfeeding in the nearest future. Poor nutrition for 3 days doesn’t cause any problems for your newborn, but finally you’ll be made up for your patience and persistence by the positive result: you’ll get the regular breastfeeding and enough amount of milk to feed your baby without any additional formulas.
A Nursing Mother Should Be Treated With Love and Great Care.
There are a lot of differences between human beings and mammals. One of them is the fact that all the physical process in human’s body is regulated by its mind. That’s why the young mother’s lactation depends on her emotional state.
In other words, when she-elephant or she-whale is sad or when they are frightened or when they run from somebody or when they are in captivity, they have the same amount of milk and it doesn’t change. And when our mothers are sad or very tired, their milk is missing and can disappear completely. That’s why it’s important to give your attention and care to a nursing mother, to give her a chance to sleep between breastfeeding sessions, not to burden her with a lot of household duties and make her happy. You should pay compliments to her or give her flowers or small nice gifts and so on. Besides, you shouldn’t keep the nursing mother from eating what she wants. Most of beliefs about harmful or good kinds of food for young mothers are mistaken.
Factors, which have positive effects on the lactation during the first month of your baby’s life:
- Give the breast to your child as often as possible (active baby’s sucking and nipple’s irritation)
- Emotional support and care for the nursing mother
- Absence of stress
- Long session of breastfeeding (the longer the baby sucks the breast, the more the milk you’ll get next time)
Should the Baby Stick to a Daily Routine? Ways of Breastfeeding
There are two main ways of breastfeeding:
- on the baby’s demand;
- by routine.
In the first case the mother gives the breast to the baby at once when the latter begins to cry. And it doesn’t matter how much time passed since the latest breastfeeding. In the second case the child is fed due to the schedule, as a rule, every three hours.
Women rarely chose the way of baby’s feeding themselves. It really depends on the child’s character. If the baby is fidgety and loud, the mother has to give the breast to him or her every time the baby starts to cry and begin to follow the first way of feeding. On the contrary, if the baby is quite, sleeps all the time and rarely cries, the mother feeds him or her due to the schedule, every three hours.
Both kinds of women should know
If the baby stops sucking itself (i.e. he\she is full and doesn’t want to eat any more), he\she can become hungry again no sooner than 2 hours.
So if your baby starts to cry in 30 minutes after breastfeeding, it isn’t due to hunger, there’s another reason for it – skin itching because of diathesis, infantile colic or just a bad mood. It can be anything except hunger.
Taking into account this fact, many pediatricians suggest young mothers combining the two ways of breastfeeding and follow it freely. That is the mother can feed her baby when he\she demands, but she should have two hour intervals between breastfeeding sessions. During the night she needn’t wake up the baby for breastfeeding. The baby can eat when he\she wakes up.
From one hand it’ll keep you from overfeeding your baby which can lead to infantile colic. From the other hand it will teach the mother and the baby to communicate with each other not only with the help of breasts. As you can calm your baby not only with her breasts but with other ways as well. Moreover, such intervals between breastfeeding help your child to regulate his\her digestion.
Some words about storage and expression of breast milk
If you choose breastfeeding due to your child’s demands, you shouldn’t express milk during the formation of lactation. When the baby is always at your breasts, he\she doesn’t let foremilk or mature milk stay for too long in your breasts
Expression of breast milk is necessary to do in three cases:
- If you are parted with your baby for first several days or weeks (in case when the baby is prematurely born and he\she is put into an obstetric hospital), but some time later you want to regulate breastfeeding. The lactation consultant of the Russian association for natural breastfeeding: “if you see that neonatal resuscitation will take lots of weeks, you should use a breast pump to keep the lactation process and you should do it no later than 6 hours after your child’s birth. And then you should express milk every three hours and with 5 hours interval at night. Then there will be a chance to keep you nursing.
- If you leave your baby with your relatives or a nanny and don’t give him\her the breast, but want your child to eat breast milk.
- If your baby eats less milk per one breastfeeding than you’ll have in your breasts.
But modern specialists and nepiologists don’t agree on the subject of breast milk expression. Some of them have positive attitude to the milk expression, but others are against it. The main argument for it is the risk of lactational mastitis.
Dr. Komarovsky noticed that nowadays when many doctors recommend mothers not to express milk at all, the cases of lactational mastitis has increased.
Lactational mastitis is the inflammation of breast tissue during the lactation period. In 87% of cases lactational mastitis is caused by plugged duct or, to put it simply, by galactostasia. If plugged duct lasts for 3-4 days (for example, the mother has enough milk, the baby doesn’t finish it all and the mother doesn’t express milk), there’ll be definitely the inflammation of breast tissue. As such milk is a perfect environment for various germs.
Milk expression is necessary to provide the baby with breast milk when the mother is absent (for example, when she is at work and the grandmother or a nanny can feed the baby with it). Milk expressed in the right way can be frozen and defrosted, but it won’t be different from the milk which the baby can get right from his\her mother.
But you should remember that breast milk can be frozen (there’s special plastic bags or containers for it) and be kept in the fridge for quite a long time. However, it should be defrosted only at room temperature and warmed up with the help of water bath.
How Long Should You Give the Breast to the Child?
It’s very important to provide your baby with breast milk during the first half a year of his\her life. As his\her normal development and the formation of his\her immune system will depend on it.
Modern doctors agree that if the mother has enough breast milk, she can feed the child only with it and it will satisfy all the child’s physical needs. There’s no need to add water or additional food to the baby’s nourishment.
The only exception is a very hot climate when there is a risk for a heat stroke. In this case it’s necessary to make up for water loss in your child’s body by giving him or her a bit of water or even mineral water (i.e. water with salts). We’ve already written about it in the article “what to do with a little baby during hot periods of weather”.
Then after you celebrate the first half a year of your child, the duration of breastfeeding will depend on the desire and possibilities of the mother and the family on the whole.
When the child is six months old, it’s advisable to give him or her first nourishing additional food. However, it will be better to continue breastfeeding. Then, you should reduce the frequency and duration of breastfeeding sessions, but increase the frequency and duration of additional baby food.
If a young mother still has the opportunity (she still has active milk production) and wish – all pediatricians approves of the continuation of breastfeeding. For example, World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend to keep on partial breastfeeding, i.e. the child’s nourishment should mostly consists of vegetables, meat, cereals, dairy products and etc., but together with it the baby can also get a portion of breast milk until he\she turns two years old. It can be easily explained by the fact that breastfeeding can prevent babies of any age from catching any infections.
If we think a little, we’ll come to the conclusion that in countries with the high level of medicine and the low level of infections there isn’t such a big sense to give the breast to the baby for a long time as in undeveloped countries.
In modern pediatrics there’s a belief that in developed countries with high standard of living breastfeeding has not the biological value, but the psychological one. There’re, however, some cases when the continuation of breastfeeding lasted for so long that it was already an anomaly rather than an advantage. But it’s another story…
Now let’s revise the most important fact from our article:
- it’s necessary to give the breast to the baby during the first half a year;
- it’s advisable to continue breastfeeding until the baby turns 1-1.5 years old;
- the mother can give the breast to the baby once or twice a day as long as she wishes.
The advantage and sense of night breastfeeding: when the baby wants, but the mother doesn’t…
Most pediatricians and specialists in breastfeeding are sure that night feeding is necessary during first 6 months. Even if the baby sleeps well during the whole night and doesn’t wake up because of hunger, you should awake him\her 1-2 times a night and give the breast.
However, after the child turns half a year, the mother can reduce the number of night feedings to once a night. It will give her a bit of energy and good mood and won’t leave the baby hungry.
How and When Can the Mother Reduce Night Feedings?
- Late every day bathing: it’s advisable to bathe the baby in cool water after 23:00 p.m. and then to feed him\her. As a rule, such actions help the baby to fall asleep quickly and sleep peacefully for 3-4 hours.
- Mild climate in the baby’s room: create in the room, where the baby sleeps, cool and humid climate, which lets your baby sleep well and peacefully. You need the following climate settings – the temperature no more than 20 C and humidity 50 — 70%.
Some time later you should get rid of night breastfeeding.
How to Feed Your Baby Correctly
Let’s try to sum up all the necessary rules for breastfeeding:
- Breastfeeding – is a type of the baby’s feeding till the age of two years and even older. It has no alternative and is unsurpassed for usefulness and nourishment. Any comparison of breastfeeding with formula feeding will end with the win of the first one.
- The most useful and effective way to regulate breastfeeding process – is to give the breast to the baby as frequent as possible during the first days after the baby’s birth in order to stimulate the nipple.
- Breastfeeding during the first half a year – is necessary because it provides the child with good nourishment and protects him\her from most of infections and diseases.
- To give the baby water or additional food – is unnecessary. The only exception is a very hot climate due to which the baby needs to supply his\her fluid-and-electrolyte balance.
- From the age of 6 months till one year breastfeeding (together with supplementary food) is advisable to continue.
- The most effective way of feeding the one-year-old baby is when he or she asks for it, but with at least two-hour intervals.
- After the baby is 1-1.5 years old, the continuation of breastfeeding depends on the opportunities and wish of the mother and her child.
- Expressed breast milk (if it’s kept and unfrozen in the right way) — is as useful and good for the baby’s health as the fresh one.