Breastfeeding – common questions and answers

As a new mother, it is common to have doubts and insecurities about breast feeding. Breast feeding needs you to be relaxed, and take the time to bond with your baby. While it may seem more convenient to use formula milk, in fact there are many critical advantages to exclusive breast feeding that is not seen with formula milk. And the benefits extend well into your baby’s childhood and adult years. The benefits of breast feeding also extend to the mothers. Therefore it is important to be informed about this very important decision and give your baby the best start in life.

Common Questions and Answers

Question: What is breastfeeding?

Answer: Breastfeeding, also sometimes referred to as nursing, is the act of feeding your baby with milk from their mother’s breast.

Question: What is the recommendation for breast feeding?

Answer: Apollo Cradles is aligned to the WHO guidelines and recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants until six months of age and introduction of solid foods at around six months in addition to breastfeeds. Mothers should continue breastfeeding until the age of 12 months – and beyond, if both mother and infant wish. Breastfeeding should begin within one hour of birth and should be “on demand”, as often as the child wants during day and night; bottles or pacifiers should be avoided.

Question: Why do people not breastfeed?

Answer: The reasons why most mothers do not breastfeed are because they are unaware of the immense benefits that breastfeeding has for the baby. It is probably the single most important thing you can do for your baby by giving him/her a healthy start in life. Other reasons could be that breastfeeding can sometimes be uncomfortable and without the right support at home, many mothers often give up. Fears about whether the baby is getting enough milk could also be a reason why mothers do not breast feed

Question: How do you overcome these problems?

Answer: You should consult your doctor who will reassure you about any doubts you have. You should firmly commit to giving your baby the best and seek help from your support circle, whether it is family or friends so that you are successful in breastfeeding.  Attend the lactation counselling education sessions during your pregnancy antenatal classes and clear any doubts you may have. Even after your delivery, seek the help of the lactation counsellor and nurse. Remember it is the most natural thing to do and relax. The bonding between mother and baby can be extremely rewarding.

Question: Will I produce enough milk?

Answer: Just after birth the breast produces colostrum in small amounts (5-10 cc per feed). This is just the amount that baby needs as the baby’s kidneys are not initially able to handle large volumes of fluid. Colostrum is higher in protein and minerals, and lower in fat, carbohydrates and some vitamins compared to mature breastmilk.

The most important part of establishing a good milk supply is effective and frequent milk removal from the breast during the baby’s first weeks of life. It is important to have the breasts drained well and often, either by the baby breastfeeding, or by milk expression (double pumping or hand expression).

The supply and demand response is a feedback control system that regulates the production of milk to match the intake of the infant.

Question: Does colostrum have any immunological properties?

Answer: Colostrum has immunoglobulins (mostly IgA) that provide anti-infective protection for the baby. This is not present in any formula feed. As a result of the epidermal growth factor in breast milk, the maturation of intestinal lining is hastened which strengthens the barriers to antigens getting absorbed from the intestine.

There are also anti-allergic benefits of breast milk. Occasional formula supplements can trigger an allergic reaction, and should be avoided. It has the greatest benefit if your baby is exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and you continue for a minimum of 12 months, if you delay introduction of solids until 6 months and allergenic foods (milk, eggs, fish and nuts) are eliminated from the maternal diet

Question: What if my child does not want to be breastfed?

Answer: Starting breast feeding within the first hour of life with skin to skin contact will generally prevent this. Babies will naturally breast feed if you respond to the cues from your baby and you feed on demand. If your baby appears to be uncomfortable, check the position you are holding your baby in and try to adopt a more comfortable one.

Question: What if I have pain while nursing?

Answer: When you nurse your child, you might face conditions such as pain in the nipples or breast pains. It can get uncomfortable with breast engorgement that needs to be expressed. However, these are initial problems due to both you and baby learning how to best position yourselves and latch on. It will settle very quickly. You can manage these conditions by using a nipple shield or hydrogel pads.

Question:  Does my breast size affect the amount of milk I can produce?

Your breast’s size depends on the amount of fatty tissue it contains. It has nothing to do with the amount of milk you produce. Both small and big breasted women are able to make the amount of milk that their baby needs as the milk is produced by the glandular tissue in the breast. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your breasts produce.

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