Breastfeeding is a special bond between mother and baby. It’s well known that nursing delivers optimum health benefits to the newborn. The perfect blend of vitamins, proteins, and fat are available through breast milk. Among the many benefits of lactation, breast milk is more easily digested than infant formula, has antibodies that fight off viruses and bacteria, and lowers a baby’s risks of having asthma and allergies.
For mothers, the benefit of breastfeeding includes burning more calories, which helps in returning to a healthy pre-pregnancy weight. It also helps the uterus get back to pre-pregnancy size due to the release of the hormone oxytocin. Furthermore, it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
For a new mother, lactation can be challenging in the beginning until she and her baby get adjusted to the feeding routine. Some challenges that mothers may experience have to do with sore nipples, cracked nipples, worry that not enough breast milk is being produced, pumping and storing milk, inverted nipples, breast engorgement, blocked ducts, stress, and breast infection (mastitis).
Facts about lactation for new moms
In the beginning stages, colostrum (a thin watery fluid) is present until mature milk (a thicker, whitish consistency) is produced. The gradual process should lead to producing as much food as an infant will need.
Some other factors to consider:
The more a mother breastfeeds, the more milk her body will make.
Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
Newborns nurse often, every 2 to 4 hours.
Feeding cues from the baby include signs like mouthing, lip smacking, turning toward the breast, and sucking on fists. These cues or on-demand nursing (every 3 to 4 hours, helps ensure sufficient milk supply since the baby’s nursing engages this milk-making process.
It’s okay if a baby doesn’t nurse on both breasts at one feeding. Start with the other breast at the next feeding.
Breast care doesn’t need to be more complicated than one bath or shower a day to keep nipples clean. Wash hands before feeding a baby. There’s no need to use extra lotions or soap products for nipples.
Challenges of lactation:
Difficulty in baby latching (process of baby putting mouth around mother’s nipple and beginning to nurse)
Cracked or irritated nipples
Clogged or plugged milk ducts (when a duct gets blocked, milk can back up and produce a tender lump.)
Mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, and redness in one or both breasts.)
Stress or anxiety about breastfeeding
Breastfeeding should be an enjoyable experience between mother and baby, but it is something that may take some time to settle into. Mothers shouldn’t be discouraged if breastfeeding doesn’t feel comfortable or natural at first. It takes practice.
If pain persists, it is possible improper positioning or latching is the reason.
If a mother experiences extreme pain breastfeeding or has any of the challenges listed, she should seek expert assistance. Pacific Women’s Center has lactation resources who help mothers with breastfeeding concerns. The center also offers free breastfeeding classes to expectant mothers.
Call us today for help with any lactation or breastfeeding issues. We want to ensure mothers have the best experience possible with their new baby.