This guide gives you a helpful introduction to the advantages of breastfeeding offering clear, factual information to enable mums-to-be to make an informed choice about breastfeeding.
Alongside the benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby, we will also give you information about what is in breast milk and advice on the best nipple cream to care your nipples during breastfeeding.
The best start in life for baby's natural health
Every mother naturally wants to give her baby the best possible start in life, and there is no better way to do this than to do what nature intended and to breastfeed your baby from birth.
For many women this is the most obvious thing to do and they wouldn't consider any alternative. Other mums-to-be may be undecided, particularly if this is their first baby.
" Breastfeeding has many advantages for both the baby and for the mother. "
With very few exceptions, every woman who bears a baby throughout pregnancy is physically capable of breastfeeding after the birth.
Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world and has many advantages for both the baby and for the mother.
What is in breast milk that makes it so nutritious?
The nutritional content of human breast milk is without doubt ideally suited to babies. It has evolved over tens of thousands of years and contains over 300 known ingredients that ensure the baby gets every nutrient they need and in the right proportions and quantities.
Breast milk is far more complicated though as not only are these nutrients present in the right proportions and quantities, but these proportions change as your baby grows, supporting your baby's development through 3 stages.
- The first stage of milk production - Immediately after your baby is born, a mother’s milk is rather thin-looking and contains very high concentrations of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) needed for the growth, brain development and bile-salt production of your new-born baby. This first milk is called 'colostrum' and it plays a vital role in establishing a healthy digestive system in your baby. Colostrum is only produced for the first few days and normally by the end of the first week mothers are producing transitional milk.
- The second stage of milk production - Transitional milk is still rich in EFAs, but has less than are found in colostrum. The overall fat content of your breast milk is also slightly down at this stage, but there is an increase in lactose and protein. This milk is generally produced for the first six months of your baby’s life, although this can be longer if your baby was born prematurely. This milk provides everything that your growing baby needs during the first six months - there is no need to supplement with anything else during this period.
- The third stage of milk production - The third stage of milk production is called mature milk and this is generally produced from when your baby is six months. It is during this stage that you should start to introduce other foods to start the process of weaning. Most authorities on breastfeeding agree that babies should be breastfed until at least the age of 12 months, and longer if possible. During this period, you should gradually introduce a range of other foods more and more frequently so that the weaning process is carried out smoothly.
The benefits of breastfeeding for your baby
- Breast milk provides Essential Fatty Acids, proteins and many other nutrients
- Breast milk offers strong baby immunity - Macrophages (cells that destroy bacteria, viruses and fungi) found in breast milk can help with common diseases like pneumonia, botulism, bronchitis, staphylococcal infections, influenza, urinary tract infections and ear infections
- Breast milk is always sterile and never contains the bacteria that may cause diarrhoea in bottle-fed infants.
- Protects against allergies - The antibodies in breast milk work to form a protective coating on the inside of a baby’s intestines, protecting them from potential allergens. Babies are never allergic to their own mother’s milk. They may react to some of the foods that you eat - common examples are cow’s milk and Brussels sprouts - but if you eliminate the problem food from your diet, the symptoms in your baby soon go away
- Creates strong physical growth through the act of suckling by exercising your baby's jaws and facial muscles and encouraging the growth of straight, healthy teeth
- Establishes a close bond between you and your baby - This is further developed when there is skin to skin contact during feeding. This, together with the feelings of warmth and security that come from being cuddled, help to establish an early psychological balance in your baby, usually resulting in a more placid temperament. Interestingly, at birth a baby can only focus on things between 12 and 18 inches away - precisely the distance between a mother’s face and her baby’s eyes during breastfeeding.
The benefits of breastfeeding for mum
- Convenient and economical - No bottles to sterilise, no kettles to boil, no formula to buy, measure and mix. Breast milk is always at the right temperature and sterile.
- Helps regain your pre-pregnancy weight and figure - In order to produce milk the body uses a lot of calories and fat and this can speed up the loss of any excess accumulated during pregnancy. Also, the action of the baby suckling stimulates contractions of the uterus, helping it to return to its normal size.
- Breastfeeding forces you to relax - It really isn't practical to feed whilst on the move. Sitting down and resting every few hours will speed up your recovery from childbirth. Even in the middle of the night, it is so much easier to breast feed than to give a bottle - you can even doze off during feeding if you are lying down.
Prepare yourself before breastfeeding
When you are approximately 7 months pregnant it can be helpful to prepare your nipples.
Apply Organic Babies Soothing Nipple Balm and massage gently morning and evening, this will help to prepare your nipples for a hungry little baby.
How to care for sore, cracked nipples
The best treatment for sore nipples is prevention. Frequent feeding does not cause sore nipples. A baby who doesn't latch on well or is attached incorrectly at the breast is more likely to be the cause.
It is important for you to get expert help from a breastfeeding counsellor or infant feeding specialist to sort out your baby’s latching on technique if you feel you need some guidance.
Babies learn to suck properly by getting milk from the breast when they are latched on correctly.
Nipple soreness will usually ease up after the first few sucks once you are relaxed and your baby is latched on correctly especially after the milk settles down and flows freely. Remember that your nipples are a very sensitive part of your body, and are not used to having stress put on them.
To care for your nipples whilst breastfeeding, we recommend 100% gentle and natural Organic Babies Soothing Nipple Balm which contains organic Calendula, vitamin E and Shea butter. The balm can ideally be used before, during and after breastfeeding to soothe and nourish sore or cracked nipples and can be used safely whilst continuing to breastfeed your baby.
All of our Organic Babies products are suitable for use during pregnancy or whilst pregnancy. If you have any questions about our natural baby products, our customer care team is happy to help. Please call us on 01403 740350 or leave a comment or question below.