Table of Contents
- What is in breastmilk?
- Here is what breast milk consists of
- Preparing to breastfeed- What you need to keep in mind?
What is in breastmilk?
Breast milk is a source of food for babies produced in the female mammary glands. It is easily digestible for infants and contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and other nutrients in the perfect balance. Breast milk is extremely essential for the proper growth and development of a baby.
You will be surprised to know that the composition of breast milk changes as the age of the baby increases. It changes to best suit the nutritional requirements of the infant.
Here is what breast milk consists of
Breast milk contains white blood cells and antibodies and has got amazing antibacterial properties. There are growth factors and hormones too in breast milk. What more? Breast milk contains probiotics and is considered a rich source of oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates that promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Another component of breast milk is long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are extremely crucial for the development of the eyes, brain, and nervous system of a baby. Cytokines present in breast milk boost the immune system and trigger cell communication. Cytokines are nothing but special proteins present in the body. However, this is not an exhaustive list; there are many other healthy ingredients present in breast milk that help babies grow into healthy adults.
And that is why breast milk is often considered to be a superfood for infants. It doesn’t just provide the right kind of nutrition to growing babies; it is also available for them whenever they need it. It’s a complete food and doesn’t require any kind of supplementation. By feeding breast milk alone, children can be subjected to healthy growth and development.
Preparing to breastfeed- What you need to keep in mind?
If you want to breastfeed your baby, you will have to plan ahead
You will have to acquaint yourself with breastfeeding as well as latching even before you give birth. Do some reading and find out what you need to do in the first couple of weeks of nursing. It’s always better when you know what to expect during the first few weeks. After your baby is born, you will probably be overwhelmed with excitement and other emotions.
All that will make breastfeeding all the more difficult not just for you but also for your baby. To prevent that from happening, you can make yourself familiar with the concepts mentioned here. This will help you pass this phase of transitioning without hiccups.
Breastfeeding can be a challenge for new mothers. And that is why seeking support is highly advisable. It doesn’t really matter from where you get the required support, but the right kind of support will improve your breastfeeding experience. Often hospitals and birth centres have online support groups which you can join for guidance in this regard.
Consultants or lactation counsellors will listen to your problems and will answer your queries without you having to worry about anything. The hospital where you are delivering your baby could have some kind of initiative to support new mothers. You can inquire and find out if any such initiatives are available and if they can be of any help to you.
Also, there are hotline numbers for mothers in distress that you can dial to get help. In case you find time, do some research online, look for online communities where mothers share their nursing experiences. They will be of immense help to you.
You will learn a lot from your own experience
The best way to learn how to breastfeed is through personal experience. As your baby starts suckling at your breast, you will know how to help them extract milk without working too hard. Sometimes, all you need is to change your body position, and your baby starts suckling way better than before.
A lot of women prefer to hold their breasts in such a way that the baby can suckle at them without discomfort. Although you will be able to do this better with someone’s guidance, you won’t really feel helpless without guidance. By observing your baby and also your breastfeeding pattern, you will learn and understand a lot and will be able to execute your learnings.
For how long should a baby breastfeed?
Breastfeeding exclusively is a good option until your baby turns 6 months.
You can start solid foods at 6 months. It’s better when breastfeeding continues through the first year.
If a mother fails to breastfeed
Although all mothers should ideally breastfeed, it may not be an option for you. Some mothers need to opt for donor milk for their babies. These women may choose to do so through established human milk banks. A lot of women also choose to feed their babies formula milk.
It doesn’t really matter how you feed your baby; the most important thing is to make sure they are healthy and well-fed. If you have decided to breastfeed your baby, it would be wise on your part to get breast milk quality testing. Such tests let you know about the quality of your milk and how suitable it is for your baby.
Also read: 5 Health Tips for Surviving Breast Cancer