Breast milk is a fantastic source of nutrition for the baby as it offers comprehensive protection from illness, immunity against infections and aids growth & development. Breastfeeding has lots of benefits for both the mother & the child. Babies born before 37 weeks have a weakened immune system, which makes it more difficult for them to fight infection. Breastfeeding a premature baby will help to protect them.
Breastmilk also perfectly balanced to suit the premature baby because it contains the antibodies, hormones and other factors needed for growth and development.
Also, there are several physical and emotional benefits to breastfeeding. Primarily, it helps develop a loving relationship and a strong emotional bond with the baby. And can also improve mental health and wellbeing for both the mother & child.
- Breast milk is easily digestible
- Contains all the nutrients in the right proportion
- Helps in easy absorption of Iron and Zinc, required for normal growth
- Transmits many substances (antibodies) which protect the newborn against respiratory and gastro-intestinal infections.
- Known to decrease the risk of food allergies
- Helps in the synapses of neurons thereby helps in brain development
- Is rich in anti-bodies and thus helps in building immunity
- Is known to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Aids proper development of teeth and speech because of suckling
- Decreased rate of ovarian, breast and uterine cancer
- Helps to lose the weight gained during pregnancy, as lactation is a calorie burning exercise.
- Decreases maternal bleeding
- Helps get the uterus back in shape and also helps in firming the uterine muscles
The World Health Organization recommends that all babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and then for 2 years or as long as mother and baby want to, alongside solid food. The longer someone breastfeeds, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. It’s up to the mother & the baby when to decide to stop breastfeeding.
- Sit comfortably with a back support
- Hold baby with their head and keep body in a straight line
- Hold baby close and support their neck, back and shoulders. Position the baby such that they are able to tilt their head back easily, and they shouldn’t have to reach out to feed.
- Place the baby’s nose opposite to the nipple
- Let your baby’s head tip back a little so that their top lip can brush against your nipple. This should help the baby open their mouth wide.
- When the baby’s mouth opens wide, their chin should be able to touch the breast first, with their head tipped back so that their tongue can reach as much breast as possible.
- Once the baby has latched on, their nose should be clear, and their cheeks should look full and rounded as they feed.
- Plenty of liquids-just water would do – keep sipping
- Restriction on ghee, butter and sweets to be followed strictly
- A balanced diet of rice/ wheat, dhal, vegetables, fruits and curd
- Frequent intake of small amounts of simple low fat/ calorie food
- No restriction of any particular food stuff
- 3 to 4 glasses of milk every day
- Lot of apples and pomegranates
- Garlic, almonds (4), fenugreek leaves, spinach, oats, pear and guava to be consumed regularly.
- Dinner should be light and early
Remember that most of the time the lactating mother’s body is thirsty and not hungry. Do not mistake these thirst pangs to be hunger pangs. Do not eat for two.
A partner’s support is vital for effective parenting and breastfeeding is an integral part of parenting. As a spouse, there is a lot of support that you can lend, this includes:
- Providing encouragement and reassurance
- Making sure your partner has everything they need to stay comfortable while breastfeeding
- Doing whatever you can to keep stress to a minimum
- Talk to your partner while she’s breastfeeding if she’s feeling very tired
- Encourage your partner to eat and drink regularly