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The importance of breast milk

Human milk is a complex living, biological fluid. It contains just the right amounts of nutrients, in the right proportions for your baby. It is processed gently through the baby’s digestive system so that nutrients are easily absorbed. Breast milk's features include special factors and hormones that contribute to the optimal health, growth and development of infants.

Babies who are breastfed have a decreased chance of developing:

  • Respiratory and ear infections
  • Allergies and atopic diseases
  • Asthma
  • Urinary tract and diarrheal infections

Adults who were breastfed as infants have a decreased risk of developing:

  • Diabetes, Heart Disease and Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Breast cancer

Benefits for baby

  • Easy to digest
  • Helps avoid early food allergies
  • Boosts baby’s immune

Benefits for mom

  • Stimulates Oxytocin, the hormone that causes your uterus to contract and return to normal size
  • Helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight
  • Reduces risk of breast and ovarian cancer

Benefits for dad

  • A healthier partner
  • Reduced cost over bottle-feeding

Breast milk consists of

Colostrum: yellowish, translucent fluid secreted during the first few days of breastfeeding. It contains easy to digest proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies.

Transition milk: marks the change from colostrum to regular breast milk in about three days from the onset of breastfeeding. It has high levels of fat, lactose, and vitamins to help the baby regain any weight lost after birth.

Mature milk: nature’s most perfect, nutritionally balanced food for your baby. 90% is water, which is necessary to maintain hydration of the infant and 10% is made up of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which are necessary for growth and energy. There are 2 types of mature milk: foremilk and hind milk.

Breastfeeding is going well when:

  • Your baby nurses 8 or more times in a 24 -hour period (about every 2 to 3 hours)
  • Your baby nurses for at least 15 minutes on each breast
  • Your baby has at least 3 wet diapers a day during the first few days and 6 wet diapers by the end of the first week
  • Your baby has one or more yellow, seedy bowel movements a day by the end of the first week
  • You can see and hear your baby continue sucking and hear swallowing while nursing
  • Your full breasts are softer after the baby nurses
  • Your baby seems satisfied after nursing

Some parents find it helpful to keep a diary of when their infant eats, has a wet diaper, and has a bowel movement

Your infant should be seen by your midwife or your gynecologist 1 week after discharge. He/She can provide you with help and support during your breastfeeding experience.

Common breastfeeding problems

Engorgement: painful, hard, and swollen breasts. Helpful tips:

  • Nurse your baby frequently
  • Try a new breastfeeding position
  • Express some milk if breast is too full

Sore nipple. Helpful tips:

  • Try new position while breastfeeding
  • Air-dry your nipple after feeding
  • Rub your breast milk around nipples

Plugged ducts: areas in the breast where the flow is blocked. Helpful tips:

  • Start nursing with that breast first
  • Massage the area between feedings
  • Apply a warm, wet clot before nursing

Difficulty latching on. Helpful tips:

  • Try different breastfeeding positions
  • Bring your baby’s mouth to the breast
  • Make sure your baby takes the whole

Positions for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding, one of the most natural acts in the world, takes practice. Learning how to hold and support your baby in a comfortable position calls for coordination — and patience.

Yet finding a nursing hold that works for you and your infant is well worth the effort. After all, the two of you will spend hours breastfeeding every day.

Here are some time-tested positions to try, plus tips to make nursing go smoothly.

Tips for Every Nursing Position:

  • Support your breasts
  • Support your baby
  • Vary your routine
  • Relax, then nurse
  • Set time to stop

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