Breastfeeding is a special experience that is shared only between a mother and her child. There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother. Breast milk contains essential nutrients that help a baby grow and develop. It contains antibodies that help protect a child from infections. It also helps reduce the likelihood of the child developing health ailments such as diabetes, obesity, and asthma later in life (1).
There are numerous benefits for the mother, too. Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract to its normal size, preventing excessive blood loss (2). Many women have also claimed that breastfeeding has helped them with postpartum weight loss (3). According to a study, exclusive breastfeeding for three months can have a small contribution to postpartum weight loss (4). So, you know that breastfeeding is highly beneficial. However, as a breastfeeding mother, you may have questions such as: How long to breastfeed? How often to breastfeed a newborn? When to stop breastfeeding? You may also face the dilemma of making a choice between breastfeeding vs formula. We understand your confusion and have created a ‘Breastfeeding’ category dedicated to answering all your queries related to breastfeeding.
On this beautiful journey called motherhood, we wish to accompany you and guide you with the help of our medical experts. If this is your first pregnancy, you probably may be curious about breast milk and how it is produced. We have articles covering the details and interesting facts related to breast milk. You will not only understand how breast milk is produced but will also learn ways to boost milk supply.
Mothers start breastfeeding soon after the baby is born. After that, you feed them whenever they seem hungry. Don’t worry about knowing if your child is full or not. With every passing day as a mother, you will instinctively learn to address your child’s needs. We are here to help you understand the signs indicating your child is full after a feeding. We have some valuable breastfeeding tips that will come in handy. If you are wondering about the best way to feed your baby, then we have covered that too. There are many ways in which you can breastfeed your little angel. From laid-back breastfeeding to side-lying breastfeeding, we have articles explaining in detail the various positions, their benefits, and points of caution. For some mothers, the size of their breasts may also be a matter of concern. But worry not. We have addressed that too in our articles. For your smooth breastfeeding experience, we have listed suitable breastfeeding positions for mothers with relatively larger breasts.
You know that breast milk is good for your child, but you may wonder if there are ways to ensure that your child is receiving the most nutritious milk. You need to ensure that you have a balanced and healthy diet recommended by your doctor. As a lactating mother, you may want to know about the best foods for breastfeeding. But you also have to be cautious of the foods that you consume, as most food items are likely to impact your breast milk. But do not worry yet. We have addressed in detail foods for breastfeeding and their effects on a mother and her child. From edible items such as spirulina to ginseng, we have a wide variety of articles specifically focused on certain items and their good and bad effects. We know there may be food items that you consumed before pregnancy, but now wonder about their effects on your baby. From fresh peppermint tea to the much-loved chamomile tea, you may have questions about its effects on your baby. Be rest assured that our articles have covered these topics too in detail. You will find the benefits and likely side effects of food items you may want to consume when breastfeeding.
After all the cautions related to your child’s nutrition, we have covered topics that address your well-being too. As a mother, you will experience hormonal and emotional ups and downs. Your body will not look or feel the same way. But remember that you are not alone in this. We are with you. We have a collection of beautiful breastfeeding quotes that will lift your mood. If that doesn’t work, then we have some delicious and nutritious smoothies that you will love slurping. No matter the concern, if it is related to breastfeeding, MomJunction has it covered for you. Explore our special breastfeeding page to get answers to all your breastfeeding questions and some reliable breastfeeding advice you may need.
The first stage in breastfeeding is the colostrum stage when the colostrum or breast milk is thick and concentrated. It is full of antibodies and nutrients that boost the baby’s immune system. Then comes the transitional milk stage, in which the milk becomes thicker and creamier as it is rich in fat, lactose, and water-soluble vitamins. Next is the mature milk stage, in which 90% of it is water while the remaining 10% is full of essential nutrients that give your baby energy (5). The final stage in breastfeeding is the weaning stage, when you gradually decrease your child’s dependency on breast milk and introduce them to solid food (6).
The amount of breast milk consumed by a baby varies with every feed. However, newborns usually consume 5 ml or a teaspoon of breast milk, each feeding for the first few days after birth (7). This gradually increases as the baby grows.
Breast milk has three main types. Colostrum is the initial milk produced after childbirth. It is thick and yellowish in color. It is followed by transitional milk, which contains more calories than colostrum. Then there is mature milk that is developed 2-4 weeks postpartum and contains essential nutrients and water. Mature milk is of two types - foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is the thinner milk at the beginning of a feeding. It provides hydration to the baby. Hindmilk is the milk at the end of a feeding. It provides essential calories and nutrients to a baby (5).
It is quite common for mothers to experience more milk output in one breast in comparison to another (8). This varies for every woman as milk production and output depend on various factors such as the mother's health, diet, hormones, and other factors.
Breast milk is a combination of milk and other essential nutrients that support the growth of a baby. It is composed of 87% water, 1% protein, 4% lipid, and 7% carbohydrate (including 1 to 2.4% oligosaccharides) (9).
On average, in the first two days after childbirth, a woman produces less than 100ml of milk. From day four to five, the milk produced increases to 500ml. After two weeks, a woman can produce 750-1000 ml of milk (10). However, it varies for each woman as milk production depends on the mother’s health, diet, hormone levels, stress levels, and other factors.
Freshly pumped or expressed milk can stay fresh in a refrigerator for up to four days. If stored in a freezer, it can stay fresh for around 6 to 12 months (11).
According to the World Health Organization, a mother can start breastfeeding her child in the first hour of birth and continue breastfeeding for two years or more (12).
The frequency of breastfeeding depends on the baby’s needs. Infants may need to be fed as often as every 1 to 3 hours as their bellies are tiny and cannot consume too much milk at once (13). As the child grows older, they may be able to feed more in one feeding, and the gap between feeding might gradually reduce.
There are various signs that a baby will show when they are full such as their cheeks will be round and won’t sink in while sucking at the breasts. You can see the rhythmic movement of their lips and sense the sucking motion. The baby leaves the breasts on their own when they have had their fill. They look happy and content after every feed. If your baby is feeding well, you, too, may feel relaxed and sleepy after feeding (14).
Make sure you check with your dermatologist before using retinol-containing skin products.
Understanding the composition of milk may help you adopt ways to improve its fat content.
Sushi made of well-cooked fish or vegetarian/vegan varieties may be safe options.
Regular pumping and having a balanced diet can aid in increasing breast milk supply.
Consume pineapple while nursing your baby, provided they are not allergic to it.
Prune juice is safe when nursing but watch for any side effects after consuming it.
Wearing ill-fitting bras or not maintaining proper hygiene might lead to infections.
Treat mild cases with home remedies, but consult a doctor for severe infections.
Knowing about comfortable positions and wearing supportive bras can help provide comfort.
Besides giving psychological comfort, it may enhance a baby's sleep and reduce stress.
The cause of high lipase levels is unknown, but it does not negatively affect the milk.
Poor posture and postpartum muscle issues may trigger the pain; exercise may help.