The natural bond between mother and child begins with breastfeeding but with today’s growing list of demands many mothers worry about the concern that they will not be able to produce enough milk for the baby. Here are a few simple breastfeeding tips to keep your infant’s tummy full and your mind at ease.
There are three different forms of mother’s milk.
- Colostrum– The thicker first stage ranges from clear to yellowish in color. It may not seem like much to you but it contains all the nutrients your baby needs for the initial 1-3 days.
When he or she is first born, don’t be alarmed if your milk doesn’t come in right away. Remember your body knows what your baby needs and is letting your little one take the lead. A newborn’s stomach is smaller than their fist and cannot stretch so they require very small amounts at a time.
- Transitional milk– Usually appears on days 2-4. This will be thinner and whitish in color and is full of the fats and proteins needed to help your baby grow.
At this stage let him/her drink until they seem satisfied. You can tell they are no longer hungry by looking for cues like the opening of hands, relaxing the body, and pulling away from the breast. It is also quite common for the baby to fall asleep when full.
- Mature milk– This comes in a week or two after birth and is produced in two different types. At the beginning of each feeding foremilk, it is normally a bluish-white and is high in water content. After a few minutes, it becomes hindmilk which is much higher in fat and looks more like the milk you are used to.
Your child’s stomach is now about the size of golf ball and requires about 2-4oz at each feeding. It is essential to allow your baby to drink until at least one breast is empty as hindmilk is vital to your child’s nutrition.
Breastfeeding – Keeping up your milk
It should be an easy task as long as you are paying attention to the cues of your baby. After your mature milk has come in, your infant will likely want to eat every 1-3 hours; During a growth spurt they may want to eat even more often, so don’t worry, you aren’t making enough milk just because they are seemingly always hungry. The average newborn hits a growth spurt at 6 weeks and 6 months; however this could be sooner or later depending on the child.
Feeding your baby whenever they are hungry is the best way to make sure your body knows how much milk to produce. Signs of hunger include: sticking hands or things in mouth, rooting and pulling on clothes. Crying or screaming normally comes as a last resort, signaling it is way past feeding time, so try and catch the early signs.
Important Note: Avoid using bottles and pacifiers to supplement as each missed meal could result in a decrease in milk.
Pumping is another good way to increase your supply and the stored milk will ensure that your child will always have the best nutrition when mommy is not handy. Pump each side about 10-15 mins after each session (or as needed.)
Tip: Wearing a bra that is too small or tight could interfere with milk flow leading to clogged ducts and possible infection.
Diet also has an effect on how much milk you produce. Everything you eat or drink leaks into your supply. Oatmeal, granola, or oat muffins are the best-known foods to give you that boost. It is important to listen to your body and eat when hungry as breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. If you are not eating enough your body may not have the nutrients needed for the baby.
(Be aware that hormonal birth control can take away or even stop your milk altogether. If you have to use something look into more natural less enhanced versions while breastfeeding.)
Even though nursing is one of the most natural things in the world, it does take practice. Patience is the key as stress can slow the flow and become frustrating for mamma and baby. When the going gets tough, remember that it is best for you and your little one and you can do it.