Nursing a newborn baby is ironically, no child’s play. Breastfeeding your baby comes with its share of challenges and may not always be something you, as new parents would instinctively be gifted with. However, knowing what to expect and being fairly prepared is half the battle won. To ensure a new mother doesn’t feel drowned in the ocean of scattered information out there, we talk all about breastfeeding-
The more effectively an infant consumes breast milk, more milk is produced. At the very start, breast milk changes by the week, each formulation naturally designed to meet the newborn’s specific needs. For a detailed explanation as to the detailed whys and hows, talking to a lactation consultant is recommended. Breast milk goes through 3 main stages in the initial weeks:
The 1st few days (Days 0 - 5) of breastfeeding mainly involves making a yellow / orange tinted milk called colostrum that’s rich, thick, and contains all the essential nutrients and antibodies required to battle early day infections. Although the quantity of colostrum made is less, it is enough for the new-born’s requirements.
During this stage (Days 5/6 - 14), the quantity of breast milk increases, particularly around the 3rd or 4th day. At this time breasts feel heavier / fuller since the milk is transitioning from colostrum to transitional and you will want to feed your baby this because as evident by the name, transitional milk is a crossover between colostrum and mature breast milk, and it resembles a mix of milk and orange juice
Approximately around the 2nd week after a baby’s birth, the mother’s breasts start secreting mature milk supply, relatively thinner than transitional milk and similar to watery skimmed milk. Mature milk supply has a thinner consistency at the beginning of a feed and gets thicker and nutrient-rich towards the end. This is because while the feed is on, the energy and fat content gradually increase and start peaking towards the end of the baby's feed.
The way a newborn adjusts to drinking mother’s milk is extremely important, a process called the breastfeeding latch. When a newborn baby is latched and starts taking in breastmilk, it translates to a good latch, in turn maintaining a sufficient supply of breast milk for the new mom. However, guiding a newly born child towards correctly latching involves some trial and error.
While for some lucky mothers the infant almost magnetically gets attached to the breast right after birth, for others it involves more practice to manage the correct latch. Once the mom and child get a hang of it, latching on comes quite naturally.
Also, in the beginning, newborns need to be fed every 2 - 3 hours, and a full single feed could take anywhere between 20 - 45 minutes.
Breastfeeding after a C-Section
It may be slightly challenging to start breastfeeding days after birth via C-Section, since the body is healing from surgery. However, it is still achievable and is even healthy for both baby and mom, if someone helps out to comfortably position the child.
To understand if your infant is getting a healthy amount of milk, check for signs like steady, healthy weight gain; regular bowel movements; and going through 5 - 8 wet Baby Diapers daily.
Breastfeeding schedules change along with a baby’s growth. From 24/7 nursing sessions to gradually introducing small amounts of solid food to your breastfed baby, breastfeeding has various stages and every mother has different weaning off approaches, with no one-size-fits-all formula.
Mothers need care too
Recovering from childbirth along with breastfeed is a daunting task, hence new mothers must get enough rest. This includes but isn’t limited to - Eating healthy nourishing food; staying well hydrated; napping whenever possible to deal with postpartum fatigue; even setting time aside for some light exercise.
Despite all the differing opinions and information, it is finally up to every new mother to ensure her breastfeeding journey remains sweet and fulfilling from start to end, for her as well as her newborn.