Breastfeeding: The Optimal Source of Nutrition for Your Baby
Breastfeeding is a natural way of feeding a newborn baby that is not only convenient but also provides many benefits for both the mother and the baby. Breast milk contains a perfect balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that help to protect the baby against infection and diseases. Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby's health but also for the mother's well-being. There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mother and debunk some common myths associated with it.
Breastfeeding: The Best Start for Your Baby
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide your baby with the nutrition it needs to grow and develop. Babies who are fed only breast milk for the first six months of life get the best start. Breast milk provides protection from respiratory infections, GI infections, and diarrhoea. Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk of childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis, which is an inflammation inside the nose caused by allergens.
Breast milk also contains hormones that help with the baby's development. These hormones are essential for the baby's brain development and help to establish the bond between the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding is a way of bonding with your baby, and it is known to reduce the risk of ovarian or breast cancer in the mother.
Breastfeeding Myths Debunked
There are many myths associated with breastfeeding that often deter new mothers from trying it. Here are some of the most common myths and the truth behind them.
Myth: Breast Milk does not contain enough iron for the baby's needs
Though human milk is said to have low levels of iron (0.2-0.5 mg iron per litre) , the newborn gets most of its iron needs from their mother iron stores which are accumulated during gestation.
Myth: It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed
Not true! Breastfeeding is made difficult because women do not receive the help they should to get started properly. A poor start can make breastfeeding difficult. It is difficult at first but becomes easier later on. There are many resources available to new mothers to help them with breastfeeding, including lactation consultants and support groups.
Myth: If a baby has diarrhoea or vomiting, the mother should stop breastfeeding
Not true! The best medicine for a baby's gut is breast milk. Breast milk provides the perfect balance of nutrients and antibodies to help the baby recover from diarrhoea or vomiting.
Myth: Breastfeeding ties the mother down
Not true! A baby can be breastfed anywhere, anytime. There is no need to drag around bottles or formula. Also, there is no need to worry about where one can warm the milk.
Myth: A mother can’t take any medication while breastfeeding
Many medications can be taken while breastfeeding. If you have taken medication that is not safe for breastfeeding, pump and discard your milk while taking your medicine, and resume breastfeeding when it's no longer in your system. It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication while breastfeeding.
Myth: A mother should only eat plain food while breastfeeding
There is no need to change the diet while breastfeeding. It is advised to eat a balanced diet and foods that increase milk production like fenugreek, fennel, spinach, oats, etc.
Myth: Breastfeeding hurts and causes sore nipples
This can be avoided by learning the right positioning and attaching the baby correctly to the breast. There are many resources available to new mothers to help them with breastfeeding, including lactation consultants and support groups.
Myth: You have to drink milk to make milk
Drinking milk has little to do with a woman’s production of breast milk. It is important to be well hydrated and consume a nutrient-dense diet.
Some health tips while breastfeeding:
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water, milk, and natural fruit juices to stay hydrated. Dehydration can reduce your milk supply, so it's essential to drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat a balanced diet: A woman requires 400-500 extra calories per day when breastfeeding but if overweight, she need not increase her calorie intake. But taking specific nutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin A, vitamin D are beneficial while breastfeeding.
- Take care of your mental health: Breastfeeding can be exhausting, so it's crucial to take care of your mental health. Get enough sleep, ask for help when you need it, and practice self-care.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise is essential for your physical and mental health. Incorporate light to moderate exercise into your routine, like brisk walking or yoga.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking: Both alcohol and smoking can pass through breast milk to your baby and can cause harm. It's best to avoid them altogether while breastfeeding.
- Talk to a lactation consultant: If you're having trouble breastfeeding, don't hesitate to talk to a lactation consultant. They can provide you with valuable advice and support.
- Take care of your nipples: Cracked or sore nipples can make breastfeeding painful. Apply lanolin or a nipple cream to soothe and protect your nipples.
Remember, breastfeeding is a beautiful experience for both you and your baby. By taking care of yourself and following these tips, you can make the experience even better.