Breastfeeding: Benefits, Complications, and Schedule

I realize that some mothers are not able to breastfeed for different reasons or may have complications while trying that prevents them from continuing to breast feed, but as a first time mom I am going to give it a try. My plan is to exclusively breastfeed for the first 2-3 months then introduce the bottle with breast milk for my preparation to return to work. I would like to continue using breast milk for the first year of my child’s life. I hear that it can be tough at first. You don’t get a lot of sleep due to frequent feedings to establish milk supply and it can be painful. I am worried that since I am having a planned Cesarean and won’t actually go into labor that my milk will be delayed coming in. I hope that things all go well so I can feed my baby what he needs and I am definitely planning to utilize the lactation consultant while in the hospital.

Your first milk: Colostrum

Your breastmilk helps your baby grow healthy and strong from day one.

• Your first milk is liquid gold. Called liquid gold for its deep yellow color, colostrum is the thick first milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and includes antibodies to protect your baby from infections.
It also helps your newborn’s digestive system to grow and function. Your baby gets only a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, because the stomach of a newborn infant is tiny and can hold only a small amount.

• Your milk changes as your baby grows. Colostrum changes into mature milk by the third to fifth day after birth. This mature milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow. It looks thinner than colostrum, but it has the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs for healthy growth. *

Benefits for Mom

Breastfeeding is healthier for mom physically:

• Promotes faster weight loss after birth, burning about 500 extra calories a day to build and maintain a milk supply.

• Stimulates the uterus to contract and return to normal size.

• Less postpartum bleeding

• Fewer UTIs

• Less chance of anemia

• Less risk of Postpartum Depression and more positive mood

• Greater immunity to infection

Healthier for mom emotionally:

• Breastfeeding produces the naturally soothing hormones oxytocin and prolactin that promote stress reduction and positive feelings in the nursing mother.

• Increased confidence and self-esteem

• Increased calmness. Breastfed babies cry less overall, and have fewer incidences of childhood illness. Breastfeeding can support the wellness of body, mind, and spirit for the whole family.

• Breastfeeding makes travel easier. Breast milk is always clean and the right temperature.

• Physical/emotional bonding between mother and child is increased. Breastfeeding promotes more skin-to-skin contact, more holding and stroking. Many feel that affectionate bonding during the first years of life help reduce social and behavioral problems in both children and adults.

• Breastfeeding mothers learn to read their infant’s cues and babies learn to trust caregivers. This helps shape the infant’s early behavior.

Health benefits for mom for life:

• Lower risk of breast cancer

• Lower risk of ovarian cancer

• Lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus

• Less endometriosis

• Less osteoporosis with age

• Less diabetes

• Less hypertension decreases blood pressure

• Less cardiovascular disease

Benefits for Baby

Overall breastfed babies have a stronger immune system, and better vision. The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk help protect babies from illness. This protection is unique and changes every day to meet your baby’s growing needs.

Research shows that breastfed babies have lower risks of:

• Asthma

• Leukemia (during childhood)

• Obesity (during childhood)

• Ear infections

• Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

• Diarrhea and vomiting, constipation, gastroenteritis, gastroesophageal reflux

• Lower respiratory infections

• Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies, or babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy

• Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

• Type 2 diabetes

• Lower rates of infant mortality

• Less retinopathy of prematurity

• Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia, RSV, and whooping cough

• Fewer case of bacterial meningitis

• Less illness overall and less hospitalization

Parents have up to six times less absenteeism from work

Benefits are continued later in life

Breastfed babies may become healthier children with:

• Fewer instances of allergies, eczema, and asthma

• Fewer childhood cancers, including leukemia and lymphomas

• Lower risk of type I and II diabetes

• Fewer instances of Chrone’s Disease and colitis

• Lower rates of respiratory illness

• Fewer speech and orthodontic problems

• Fewer cavities

• Less likelihood of becoming obese later in childhood

• Improved brain maturation

Teens and adults will find benefits for life:

• Less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and lupus

• Less likely to develop heart disease in adulthood

• Lower risk of multiple sclerosis

• Lower rates of pre- and postmenopausal breast cancers * and **

Complications that can arise during breastfeeding

-Sore nipples

-Low Milk supply

-Oversupply of milk

-Strong let down reflux

-Plugged duct

-Mastitis (breast infection)

-Fungal infection

-Engorgement

-Nursing strike

-Inverted, flat, or very large nipples (inverted or flat nipples may require use of a nipple shield for assistance) ****

For more detailed information please visit: https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/common-breastfeeding-challenges

Breastfeeding: Recommended schedule

Month 1: Your newborn should be nursing 8-12 times per day. Frequent feedings also will help stimulate your milk production during the first few weeks. Before your milk supply is established, breastfeeding should be “on demand” (when your baby is hungry), which is generally every 1½ to 3 hours.

Month 2: By 1 to 2 months of age, a breastfed baby will probably nurse 7-9 times a day. As newborns get older, they’ll nurse less often, and may develop a more reliable schedule. Some might feed every 90 minutes, whereas others might go 2 or 3 hours between feedings. Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding, even overnight.

Feeding intervals:

You count the length between feedings from the time when your baby begins to nurse — rather than when he or she ends — to when your little one starts nursing again. In other words, when your doctor asks how often your baby is feeding, you can say “about every 2 hours” if your first feeding started at 6 a.m. and the next feeding was at around 8 a.m., then 10 a.m., and so on.

This means that, especially at first, you may feel like you’re nursing around the clock, which is completely normal. Soon enough, you’ll both be on a more routine, predictable schedule.

Signs baby is hungry:

• moving their heads from side to side

• opening their mouths

• sticking out their tongues

• placing their hands and fists to their mouths

• puckering their lips as if to suck

• nuzzling again their mothers’ breasts

• showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that’s stroking or touching its cheek)

Watch for signs that your baby is full (slow, uninterested sucking; turning away from the breast or bottle) and stop the feeding when you see them.

How long to nurse depends on several factors:

• your milk supply has come in completely

• your let-down reflex (which causes milk to flow from the nipple) is immediate or takes a few minutes into the feeding to start

• your milk flow is slow or fast

• you’re positioning your baby correctly on your breast

• your baby tends to get right down to business or dawdles a bit

• your baby is sleepy or easily distracted (which can be the case in older babies, especially)

How long babies nurse also depends on their age. As babies get older, they become more efficient, so they may take about 5-10 minutes on each side, whereas newborns may feed for up to 20 minutes on each breast.

Make sure your baby is latched on correctly from the beginning to ensure the most productive feeding possible. It’s important that your baby nurses with a wide-open mouth and takes as much as possible of your areola in his or her mouth (not just the tip of the nipple).

Breastfeeding on each breast can be anywhere from 5-20 minutes. It is good to alternate which breast you offer first for each feeding. Burping is recommended when switching breasts, try to nurse the same amount on each breast.

Baby is getting enough if:

• seems satisfied and content after eating

• produces about 4-6 wet diapers a day

• has regular bowel movements

• sleeps well

• is alert when awake

• is gaining weight

Your baby may not be getting enough to eat if:

• does not appear to be satisfied after feeding

• seems hungry often

• isn’t making several wet and soiled diapers a day

• is fussy or cries a lot

• isn’t gaining weight

Diapers:

Your baby’s diapers are excellent indicators of whether your breastfed baby is getting what he or she needs. Because colostrum (the first milk your newborn gets) is concentrated, your baby may have only one or two wet diapers in the first 24 hours.

Your newborn’s stools (or poop) will be thick and tarry at first and become more greenish-yellow as your milk comes in, which is usually about 3 or 4 days after birth. The more your baby nurses, the more dirty (or “soiled”) diapers he or she will have; but it may be just one a day in the first days after birth.

After 3 to 4 days, here are some signs you should look for:

• six or more wet diapers per day, with clear or very pale urine. Fewer diapers or darker urine may mean your baby’s not getting enough to drink. If you see orange crystals in a wet diaper, contact your baby’s doctor. They’re common in healthy, well-fed babies and usually not a cause for concern, but sometimes can be a sign that a baby isn’t getting enough fluids.

• four or more yellow, seedy bowel movements per day, usually one after each feeding. After about a month, though, breastfed babies usually have fewer bowel movements and many may go a few days without pooping. ***

I highly recommend speaking to a lactation consultant. I know my hospital has them available during your hospital stay and I know some insurance companies cover them after you have been discharged. They can be a great support system and help you with any issues that arise.

References:

*https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/making-decision-breastfeed

**https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15274-the-benefits-of-breastfeeding-for-baby–for-mom

***http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-often.html

****https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/common-breastfeeding-challenges

4 thoughts on “Breastfeeding: Benefits, Complications, and Schedule

  1. I’ve breast fed twins, it was an amazing experience and I missed it when the,y stopped

    I’ve learnt new information here that would have been useful to me 6 years ago 🙂

    Youl do brilliant

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re going to do great. I’ve exclusively bf both my kids (22 mos for the first and 15 mos and counting for the second) so it is possible! And your post was very thorough!

    Liked by 1 person

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