Breastfeeding your baby
Deciding to breastfeed is one of the best choices you can make for you and your baby.
What are the benefits for my baby?
- Your first milk (colostrum) helps your baby’s digestive system (stomach) function well
- There are antibodies (natural chemicals in the body that fight infection) in your milk that helps your baby fight off infections
- The nutrients in human breast milk are better for your baby than those in infant formulas (which are made from cow’s milk or soya). The nutrients in your breast milk are designed just for your baby’s needs.
- Breastfeeding decreases your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Breast milk improves your baby’s brain development
- Your baby is less likely to develop health conditions, such as childhood obesity, asthma, or type 2 diabetes mellitus.
What are the benefits for me?
- Helps to create a very special bond between you and your baby
- Is convenient. Breast milk is always available at the correct temperature and costs nothing
- Helps to burn calories and helps you lose the weight gained during pregnancy
- Makes your uterus (womb) contract to its pre-pregnancy size faster and slows bleeding after you give birth
- Helps to lower your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer later in life.
Breastfeeding also helps to lower your risk of diabetes later in life. For mothers who already have diabetes, breastfeeding helps to better manage diabetes and helps control blood sugars.
How long should I breastfeed?
The World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, which means given only breast milk and no other liquids (such as water, tea or juice) during this time. After 6 months, it is recommended to introduce age appropriate complementary foods and to continue breastfeeding your baby, up to 2 years of age or for as longas you and your baby want to.
How to breastfeed your baby:
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, with your neck and back well supported.
- Place a pillow or rolled up blanket under your baby to bring him/ her to the level of your breast (if you are seated). Nursing pillows are specially designed to help support your arms and your baby while you breastfeed.
- Make sure that your baby’s abdomen (belly) is facing your abdomen.
- Gently massage your breast. With your fingertips, massage from your chest wall toward your nipple in a circular motion. This encourages milk flow. It is often helpful to continue this action during the feeding if your milk flows slowly.
- Support your breast with 4 fingers underneath and your thumb above your nipple. Make sure your fingers are away from your nipple and your baby’s mouth; this allows your baby to have a deeper latch which is important for breastfeeding.
- Stroke your baby’s lips gently with your finger or nipple.
- When your baby’s mouth is open wide, quickly bring your baby to your breast, placing your entire nipple and as much of the colored area around your nipple (areola) as possible into your baby’s mouth.
- More areola should be visible above your baby’s upper lip than below the lower lip.
- Your baby’s tongue should be between his/her lower gum and your breast.
- Ensure that your baby’s mouth is correctly positioned around your nipple and areola (latched). Your baby’s lips should create a seal on your breast and the lips should be turned out (everted).
It is common for your baby to suck quickly in the beginning for the feed for about 2–3 minutes, in order to start the flow of breast milk.
What are signs that my baby is hungry?
Early Signs of Hunger:
- Increased alertness or activity
- Movement of the head from side to side
- Movement of the head and opening of the mouth when the corner of the mouth or cheek is stroked (rooting)
- Increased sucking sounds, smacking lips, cooing, sighing, or squeaking
- Hand-to-mouth movements• Increased sucking of fingers or hands
Late Signs of Hunger:
- Irregular crying
Extreme Signs of Hunger:
Signs of extreme hunger will require calming and consoling before your baby will be able to breastfeed successfully. Do not wait for the following signs of extreme hunger to occur before you start breastfeeding:
Teaching your baby how to latch on to your breast properly is very important. An improper latch can cause nipple pain and decreased milk supply for you and poor weight gain in your baby. If your baby is not latched onto your breast properly, he/ she may swallow air during feeding. This can make your baby fussy. Burping your baby when you switch breasts during the feeding can help to get rid of the air. Teaching your baby to latch on properly is still the best way to prevent fussiness from swallowing air while breastfeeding and will allow your baby to breastfeed more successfully. Signs that your baby has successfully latched on to your breast:
- Silent tugging or silent sucking, without causing you pain
- Swallowing heard between every 3–4 sucks
- Muscle movement above and in front of his/her ears while sucking
Signs that your baby has not successfully latched on to your breast:
- Sucking sounds or smacking sounds from your baby while breastfeeding
- Nipple pain
If you think your baby has not latched on correctly, slip your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction and place it between your baby’s gums. Gently slide baby off and try starting breastfeeding again.
Signs of Successful Breastfeeding
What are the signs of successful breastfeeding from my baby?
- A slow decrease in the number of sucks or complete stopping of sucking
- Falling asleep
- Relaxation of his/ her body
- Holding of a small amount of milk in his or her mouth
- Letting go of your breast by himself /herself
- Baby urinating (pee) and stooling (poo) enough for his/her age
- Baby gaining weight normally
What are the signs of successful breast from me?
- Breasts that have increased in firmness, weight, and size 1–3 hours after feeding
- Breasts are softer immediately after breastfeeding
- Increased milk volume, as well as a change in milk consistency and color by the fifth day of breastfeeding
- Nipples that are not sore, cracked, or bleeding