Benefits of Breastfeeding – The Ultimate Guide

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Breastfeeding is the organic way of providing your child with the essential nutrients he/she need to grow. It provides the healthiest start for an infant, and is a highly recommended food delivery process by leading organizations including the American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO). In this article, I have detailed all there is to know about breastfeeding for new mothers including benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding laws at work and what to expect each month of the breastfeeding course.

Who Cannot Breastfeed?

breastfeeding problems

Although most moms are able to breastfeed, approximately 2 percent of new moms can't nurse exclusively, or at all owing to several reasons including health, discomfort, unrelenting frustration, severe heart disease or anemia.

It is also very rare that a woman will produce a low supply of milk, but it is important to give nursing a try, and supplement it with a bottle of infant formula.

Conditions you shouldn’t nurse under include if you have a serious infection such as tuberculosis, you take medications that pass into the breast milk such as antithyroid medication or chemotherapeutic agents, drug or alcohol addiction, chronic smoker.

If you’re experiencing any of the above conditions, speak to your doctor first to see if it will present a problem in your breastfeeding journey.

What can you do if you can’t Breastfeed?

For women who can’t breastfeed, there are several options to get your baby as close as possible to the real deal.

Breastfeeding Using MOM (Mother’s Own Milk)

If you can express milk, this is a great option for you. You can feed your baby your own milk by cup, spoon or bottle and provide them with the protection that only human milk can provide.

Donor Milk

While your milk is the gold standard, premature babies or hospitalized babies can be fed donor milk.

This is an alternative to formula and is pasteurized human milk that can protect babies against life threatening illnesses and other serious complications.

Milk banking is a global practice, and is available endorsements from leading organizations such as the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Wet-nursing/Cross-nursing

Cross-nursing

Image Via: Very Well

Wet nursing and cross nursing may sound considerably similar, but they are different in their own right.

While both practices entail breastfeeding by someone other than the child’s biological mother, wet nursing is generally done for pay by another woman, and cross nursing is done by someone such as a family member or friend.

Supplemental Feeding Device

A supplemental feeding device stimulates the process of breastfeeding for a mother who is unable to produce enough milk such as adoptive mothers.

These devices generally consist of a container that is linked with a cord and two pieces of tubing, which together hand around a mother’s neck.

This type of device can also be used for mothers with low milk supply.

The Medela Supplemental Nursing System is a great supplemental feeding device, and comes with an adjustable flow-rate system and color coded tubes.

Formula-feeding

If all the above options aren’t available to you or you want to supplement breastfeeding, formula is a great choice.

But before you use any type of formula, it is important that you speak to your pediatrician on which one is right for your baby.

Importance of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial and natural acts you as a new mother can do for your child.

This nutritious milk offers dramatic health benefits that are passed from mother to child via a natural process.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months not only infuses your child with antibodies that protect against infections, but also reduces the risk of chronic illnesses later on in life.

Unfortunately however in today’s society breastfeeding is often regarded as unnecessary, mostly among young mothers and due to the fact that they are misled into believing that formula is an excellent replacement for breastmilk.

But in all honesty, it emphatically does not! Because reality is that no matter how many minerals, supplements and vitamins are added to a somewhat chemical formation, it cannot duplicate the properties of breastmilk.

This nature’s formula offers complete and common nutrition for young infants, and ensures superior health and quality from childhood to adult life.

Furthermore, breastmilk promotes an extremely special bond between mother and baby, which again cannot be done in any other way.

Studies indicate that breastfed babies were less likely as adults to become obese, develop type II diabetes, had lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

But exclusive breastfeeding does not necessarily reduce the risk of eczema, but do tend to reduce chances of developing this skin condition than babies who were formula-fed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

There are several advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding, but of course the latter outweigh the former.

Advantages

Positive Emotional Experience

composition of breast milk

Breastfeeding allows a mother to create a close physical contact with their babies, which due to inner satisfaction reduces a mother’s stress level and greatly reduces risk of postpartum depression.

This process releases the hormone oxytocin, which promotes a relaxing and nurturing experience for the mother.

Temporarily Inhibited Ovulation

During breastfeeding, the hormone needed to release the egg from the ovary also known as ovulation is not produced hence getting pregnant isn’t possible.

Women who exclusively breastfeed their babies generally cease to ovulate for several months, but this also doesn’t imply that breastfeeding is a reliable form of birth control.

However, breastfeeding along with other forms of birth control could greatly reduce the chances of pregnancy.

Antibodies and Immunity-producing substances

Your newborn baby has an immature immune system and as a result in most cases is unable to combat illness causing germs.

Breastmilk is rich in antibodies, which make nursing children immune to many germs and diseases that you are exposed to.

Adding to this, this protection against illnesses continues long after the period of breastfeeding ends.

Easily Available, Inexpensive and Reliable Source of Food

Your breasts are part of your body so you can nurse as long as your child is with you.

In addition, it is a free and natural source of food and being readily available means that you do not have to run out to buy bottles, nipples or formula to satisfy your baby’s appetite.

Supported by Esteemed Institutions

Simply put, it would be hard to list a single well respected institution that doesn’t support breastfeeding.

Some of the institutions that strongly support breastfeeding include the American Academy of Pediatrics, UNICEF and WHO.

Intelligent Babies

Recent tests have linked a child’s cognitive ability with the length of time they were breastfed.

Another study that followed more than 18,000 infants from birth until 7 years of age concluded from IQ and intelligence tests that exclusive breastfeeding significantly improves cognitive development.

This is perhaps due to the fact that 1/3 of the human brain is formed at birth.

Fewer Food related Problems and Allergies

Babies who are fed soymilk or cow milk based formulas are prone to more allergies than those who were exclusively breastfed.

Exclusively breastfed babies also have considerably less allergy related issues including eczema, diarrhea, vomiting, gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.

Breastmilk is infused with a variety of immunoglobulins that protect against allergies.

One notable immunoglobulin – IgA only found in breastmilk creates a layer of protection inside a baby’s intestinal tract to prevent allergic reactions.

High Nutritional Quality compared to Store-bought Formula

Store bought formula often contains soy, coconut, whey protein, lactose, high-oleic safflower oils, potassium chloride, salt, copper sulphate, zinc sulphate, mono and diglycerides and/or magnesium chloride.

Whey is mostly present in all formulas, and is a waste by-product if certain dairy products.

These foods aren’t natural hence are harder to digest for your baby, and on their sensitive digestive system.

Contrarily, breastmilk does not include any of these ingredients, making it easy to digest for your baby and the best choice for feeding newborns.

Disadvantages

Decreased Sexual Desire/Reduced Estrogen

Estrogen promotes vaginal lubrication in a woman’s body, and its decrease causes women to be less interested in sexual activity.

Due to the lack of estrogen, your genitals might get sore if you partake in sexual activity.

Negative Emotions about Breastfeeding

Some women especially new or first time breastfeeding mothers might not be comfortable with nursing in public.

breastfeeding in public

Image Via: Publish Illinois

This is mostly due to society’s perception of breasts as sex symbols. In fact, there are some states where breastfeeding is illegal such as Idaho.

School and Career Demands

Owing to the fact that breastmilk is easy on the stomach, babies tend to digest faster and hence need to be fed often.

This might add strain on a mother especially if she is returning to work shortly after birth.

But you can always share the feeding responsibility by expressing breast milk with hand or pump, storing it for future use and have your partner feed your child in your absence.

Harder to Share Responsibilities

Considering that you will be with your child most of the time when you exclusively breastfeed, fathers or others may not get enough time to spend with the child or share responsibilities.

Bottle feeding expressed milk or formula contrarily allows other members of the family play a greater role in bonding, feeding and holding the baby.

Hormonal Birth Control

If you decide to breastfeed, you will have to refrain from using hormonal birth control such as the vaginal ring, shot or the pill.

You must choose a different form of birth control because estrogen infused with birth control affects the quality of milk, reduces the amount of milk produced and can cause newborns to ingest hormones.

Breast Nipple Pain

Some women especially new mothers may experience extreme pain when breastfeeding so much so that they give up on the whole idea and resort to bottle feeding.

Adding to this, milk may ejaculate during sexual stimulation resulting in an embarrassing experience.

Benefits of Breastmilk for Moms

Benefits of Breastmilk for Moms

Promotes Weight Loss

The conversation revolving around breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding generally boils down to health benefits vs. convenience.

But there’s more, and that is the pound shedding effect of breastfeeding.

Although many moms attribute their postpartum weight loss to regular exercise, breastfeeding has some effect as well.

Studies prove that moms who breastfeed burn up to 300-500 calorie per day.

But in order to burn these calories, your body needs energy to create breast milk so doctors recommend that you also consume a few hundred calories per day.

If you’re breastfeeding and losing weight drastically, you may have a low intake of calories so it’s best to seek best medical advice.

Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby, great changes are that you’re going to be desperate to lose the extra pounds and for energy.

As a solution, medical professionals recommend a high fiber and protein diet to not only stabilize your blood sugar, but your mood as well and consequently provide you with consistent energy throughout the day.

Some high protein and fiber meal ideas include:

Breakfast

  • Greek yoghurt
  • Cup of berries
  • ​Egg white omelet
  • ​High fiber cereal
  • Parfait

Lunch

  • Whole grain bread lean meat sandwich
  • Lentil soup with high fiber crackers
  • Grilled chicken salad or canned tuna

Dinner

  • Proteins and vegetables with no carbs

Psychosocial Effects

composition of breast milk

Although most women scream health advantages for breastfeeding, another important factor is the fact that it allows you to experience bonding or closeness with your baby.

Some women however claim that one of the biggest influences of breastfeeding is that it allows them to bond more closely to their baby.

Even women who formula feed exclusively agree that breastfeeding does create a closer bond between mother and infant.

Adding to this, some medical professionals claim that breastfeeding considerably lowers the risk of postpartum depression, a serious condition that affects more than 15 percent of mothers.

This condition affects both mother and child especially in times when she is fully unable to care for her baby.

Environmental Effects

women breastfeeding

Apart from its myriad health benefits, breastfeeding has its fair share of environmental benefits as well including the fact that human milk is natural, and is a great source of nutrition for the first six months of a baby’s life.

Next, there are no packages involved when you choose breastfeeding compared to formula, which ultimately leads to large deposits in landfills.

In terms of numbers, 150 million containers of formula are consumed for every formula fed babies, and while most of those are recycled, some of them do eventually end up flooding landfills.

Furthermore, formula containers must be transported to their designated locations to be purchased such as grocery stores.

Although mothers should consume a few additional calories to enhance breastfeeding, this natural milk supply does not require any paper, containers, transportation or fuel to prepare, greatly reducing the carbon footprint.

Another noteworthy environmental benefit of breastfeeding is that it prevents more births worldwide than any form of contraception combined, and as a result significantly decreases the use of feminine hygiene products used during menstruation.

Economic and Cost Effects

The economic benefits of breastfeeding literally affect a wide spectrum of people including employers, families, private and government insurers and a nation as a whole.

Breastfeeding can also save families a considerable amount of money each month, somewhere around $1500 per month in the first year alone.

Considering that breastfeeding is proven to prevent a plethora of illnesses, it significantly lowers health care costs.

In fact, researchers say that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months could save the US economy a whopping $13 billion in healthcare and other costs each year.

This study was based on 10 pediatric diseases that could be prevented by breastfeeding including lower respiratory tract infections, eczema, type 1 diabetes, asthma, and more seriously sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Reduced risk of Breast Cancer

Many researchers, esteemed publications and medical professionals claim that breastfeeding does reduce the risk of several types of cancer.

One of the biggest studies published in the Lancet in 2002 indicated that after an analysis of over 150,000 women showed that every 12 months of breastfeeding reduced the risk of breast cancer by over 4.5 percent compared to those women who didn’t breastfeed at all.

Another study published in the Archive of Internal Medicine in 2009 found that women with a family history of breast cancer reduced the risk of acquiring the disease before menopause by over 60 percent if they breastfed.

A third study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women of African heritage were more likely to develop hard-to-treat forms of breast cancer and even more after birth, but this number is greatly reduced for women who breastfeed.

And lastly, a study published in the Annals of Oncology stated that 20 percent of women reduced the prevalence of breast cancer when they breastfeed.

The big question you’re faced with is how breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Well, there are several theories to this!

First is the fact that women who breastfeed have a few menstrual cycles resulting in less exposure to estrogen, which is known to initiate some types of breast cancers.

Next theory is that breastfeeding makes breast cells more resistant to mutations that can cause cancer.

If you’re wondering how long you should breastfeed for in order to reduce the risk; unfortunately there is no straight up answer.

But of course the longer the better! Doctors recommend that you breastfeed for at least 1 year or as long as you can provide the essential nutritious benefits to your baby.

Protection against osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life

Calcium and Vitamin D Combination to Reduce Osteoporosis Risk

Image via: Calcium and Vitamin D Combination to Reduce Osteoporosis Risk

Breastfeeding women who do not ovulate decrease their bone density by 5-10 percent, which is a lot.

And when this same category of women begins menstruating, their bones regain strength.

Some evidence indicates that breastfeeding might protect against osteoporosis after menopause and also reduces the risk of fractures from osteoporosis.

Lower risk of mortality for women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

A study published in the journal Rheumatology states that breastfeeding when done over a longer period tends to lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The 7000 Chinese women who participated in this study were born in the 1940s and 1950s and were asked several questions including if they’d ever been pregnant and the number of live births.

This is the first study to be conducted to demonstrate the link between breastfeeding and lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Delay in Fertility

As long as you nurse according to the rules, the chances of getting pregnant are slim to none.

This is because breastfeeding does not make you ovulate or have menstrual periods.

But can breastfeeding be used as a natural contraceptive?

Lactation experts in the last decade or so have developed what is called the lactational amenorrhea method of family planning aka LAM.

This temporary contraceptive method can be used from birth and up to six months.

There are few conditions that need to be met in order for LAM to work including baby must be under 6 months of age, no period and your baby must be exclusively breastfed.

With regards to its effectiveness, the success rate of LAM is between an astounding 98% and 99.5% in preventing pregnancies, a figure that is much better than artificial methods of birth control.

Benefits of Breastmilk for Baby

Benefits of Breastmilk for Baby

Premium nourishment

Breastmilk is designed to be compatible with a new baby’s digestive system as such the protein breastmilk offers is easy to digest than formula foods, and its nutrients are easily absorbed.

A smiling tummy

Breastmilk is not just easy to digest for your baby, it stays down easily as well. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why breastfed infants suffer far less constipation and diarrhea compared to formula fed babies.

In fact, the raved about pro and pre biotics found in certain formulas are naturally found in human breastmilk. In addition, breastmilk also reduces the risk of digestive upset by keeping harmful bacteria at par, while simultaneously encouraging the growth of beneficial ones.

Better poops

The stools from breastmilk fed babies are less likely to get diaper rash and also is more sweeter smelling, meaning not so hard on your nose.

Say goodbye to allergies

While a small number of babies are allergic to formula or cow milk, the chances of them being allergic to their mother’s milk is slim to none.

But you do need to watch what you eat; for example if beans are part of your diet, you might end up with a gassy baby.

Furthermore, breastfed babies are less likely to develop certain skin rash conditions such as eczema.

Naturally safe

With breastmilk, the last thing you need to worry about is contamination, and it always sterile when you need it with no boiling required.

Protection from infections

Breastmilk is infused with a host of essential nutrients that protect against a wide range of infections. This is perhaps why some doctors refer to breastmilk as a baby’s first immunization.

Breastfed babies receive a healthy dose of antibodies that accelerates their immunity against bugs including urinary tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, colds and ear infections.

And when they do get sick, breastfed babies recover faster than those who aren’t breastfed.

Freedom from Flab

Chubby babies are often cute, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate a sign of good health.

Babies who are breastfed are leaner than non-breast fed babies, and this is because breastfeeding allows a baby to choose his or her appetite, meaning stop nursing when they're full.

Adding to this, the low calorie breastmilk that a baby gets at a start of a feeding serves as a thirst quencher, while the hind milk at the end of the feeding as a filler upper.

But there's more; studies indicate that former breast feeders are less likely to deal with weight and blood pressure problems later on in life.

Brain boost

Studies indicate that breastfed babies also have a high IQ compared to formula fed babies.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that breast milk contains fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is key for brain development.

In addition, babies also get skin to skin contact with mom, which not only supports intellectual development, but also makes them feel nurtured and safe.

Mighty youths

Silicone and rubber nipples do not offer great resistance to a baby’s suck as a mother’s nipple does.

Owing to the fact that they have to work harder for their meals, they gain stronger jaws and gums, resulting in optimal oral development.

Psychological Benefits

It’s a give that your baby will benefit tremendously from being close to you while nursing.

By breastfeeding and holding him/her safe in your arms, your baby knows that he/she is loved and well provided for.

Nighttime Benefits of Breastfeeding

Caring for a baby requires undue time and attention especially at nighttime.

But waking up in the wee hours of the night to feed your baby can be exhausting, but there are several benefits to nighttime breastfeeding.

Babies have small tummies

A newborn’s tummy capacity at birth can hold up to 20ml of fluid, and gradually increases as they grow.

Breastmilk as mentioned earlier is easy to digest resulting in quicker empty tummies.

This is one of the reasons why frequent breastfeeds in the middle of the night is important to ensure they are well fed.

In fact, nighttime breastmilk contributes significantly to a baby’s 24 hour consumption of breastmilk.

Research indicates that 65 percent of breastfed babies between 1 and 6 months of age feed between 10pm and 4am and between 1 and 3 times per night.

Breastfeeding helps babies sleep

baby nursing to sleep

Human internal body clocks circadian rhythms are regulated by hormones that help us wake up and feel energetic during the day. Further, they even help us fall asleep easily at night.

Breastmilk contains an amino acid known as tryptophan, which is used by the body to make melatonin – hormone that helps induce and regulate sleep.

Breast milk can help significantly develop a baby’s circadian rhythms and consequently help them sleep better at night.

More on Circadian Rhythms

The circadian even with babies who are breastfed doesn’t usually develop until babies are 2 months old.

Therefore, it is only after this time that your baby will know the difference between nighttime and daytime.

Essential for LAM

As discussed earlier, LAM is a form of birth control that is 98 percent effective if practiced correctly.

If you’ve exclusively breastfed your baby who is younger than 6 months at night, you can use the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of birth control.

Breastfeeding protects against SIDS

The more the arousals during the lesser the chances of SIDS. And since breastfeeding babies do wake up more often to be fed than formula fed babies, this simply makes sense.

Moms who breastfeed get more sleep

Research indicates that moms who breastfeed for 45 minutes to an hour each day get more sleep than those mothers who formula feed their babies.

Health benefits of babies who are breastfed

Breastfeeding provides immense benefits for both mother and child, but there are a few health specific benefits for a breastfed child.

For starters, breastmilk is infused with antibodies that help your little one fight off bacteria and viruses.

These antibodies are produced when a mother is exposed to viruses or bacteria, which are then streamed into the breast milk and then passed onto the baby during feeding.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) being one of the most noteworthy antibodies forms a layer in the baby’s throat, nose and digestive system to prevent them from getting sick.

Mild ear infections

Breastfeeding your baby exclusively for 3 or months may reduce the chances of mild ear infections by over 50 percent and by 25 percent for any breastfeeding.

Respiratory tract infections

Exclusive breastfeeding for more than five months could reduce the risk of these infections by over 75 percent.

Gut infections

When you decide to breastfeed, you reduce the chances of your baby being affected by gut infections by over 65 percent.

Colds and infections

Exclusively breastfeeding your baby for more than 6 months could lower the chances of getting serious colds and ear or throat infections by over 65 percent.

Intestinal tissue damage

Research indicates that breastfeeding premature babies can reduce the chances of necrotizing enterocolitis by roughly 60 percent.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Breastfeeding after 1 month reduces the risk by 50 percent and 36 percent when done after 1 year.

Allergic diseases

Exclusively breastfeeding for at least 4-5 months can reduce the risk of asthma, atopic dermatitis and eczema by up to 50 percent.

Celiac disease

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of this disease by over 50 percent.

Diabetes

Breastfeeding for at least 6 months can reduce the risk of Type 1 diabetes by up to 30 percent and 40 percent for Type 2 diabetes.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop this disease by roughly 30 percent.

Childhood leukemia

Babies who are breastfed for 6 months or longer are 15-20 percent less likely to develop childhood leukemia.

Vitamins in Breastmilk

Vitamins in Breastmilk

Your breastmilk is rich in essential vitamins, but it is important to maintain a healthy diet in order to ensure your baby receives all of them.

But sometimes however, your body may fall short of certain vitamins even with a healthy diet.

Apart from eating healthy, it is best to speak to your health care specialist to determine if other supplements are necessary while you’re breastfeeding.

This would also be the right time to speak to your doctor about any vitamin supplements your baby needs.

Some of the vitamins found in breastmilk include:

Vitamin A

Important for healthy vision, your breastmilk is rich in Vitamin A right from the start.

Your first breastmilk produced aka colostrum has more Vitamin a than transitional or mature breast milk.

This is why colostrum has a yellow orange color, more specifically because it contains beta-carotene.

Vitamin D

Also available in breastmilk, the level of vitamin D can vary across women, and although you can get some from your diet, most of your intake comes from the sun.

Vitamin D helps strengthen bones and teeth, and babies who do not get enough may develop rickets that causes soft bones.

vitamin d in breast milk

Due to the risk of rickets, and the fact that most mothers are deficient in vitamin D, many doctors recommend giving your newborn a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day starting at birth.

Vitamin E

This vitamin protects the cell membranes in the lungs and eyes, and there’s more than enough in breastmilk to meet daily requirements.

Vitamin K

A dose of this vitamin is given to all infants at birth to accelerate production of blood clotting factors that prevent bleeding.

After this initial vaccination, healthy breastfed babies and their mothers do not require an additional dose, but your doctor will prescribe vitamin K supplements if you do.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a robust antioxidant that supports the immune system, heal the body and help the body absorb more iron.

Generally, you do not have to take any vitamin C supplements as it is available in breastmilk, but considering that smoking decreases its level, you may need to add vitamin C supplements to your diet.

Vitamin B6

The amount of Vitamin B6 available in your breastmilk depends on your diet.

vitamins in breast milk

You might have to take B6 supplements if you fall short, but speak to your doctor before you do so because large doses of B6 can decrease prolactin levels.

Vitamin B12

Necessary for cell growth, vitamin B12 is generally found in animal products such as milk and eggs.

If you lack vitamin B12, supplements are available to boost levels.

Folate

This amount of folate in breastmilk is directly related to your diet, and if your breastmilk falls short of this important vitamin, you may need to take a folic acid supplement of 0.4 mg (400 mcg) a day.

Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), and Pantothenic Acid (B5)

All these B vitamins are responsible for converting food into energy to help the body develop and function.

They are also essential for the hair, skin, eyes, and the nervous system.

However, if you’re poorly nourished with any of these B vitamins, vitamin supplements are available to raise these levels.

In order to determine if your breastmilk lacks any of the aforementioned vitamins, your doctor will peruse your health history, and might order routine blood work to determine the vitamins you need.

Benefits of Breastfeeding by Month

Nursing your baby a few days after birth

They receive a vital dose of colostrum also regarded as a baby’s first vaccine. This highly concentrated liquid is easy to digest and prevents the invasion of harmful bacteria.

Nursing your baby for 4-6 weeks

Your baby will now have a much lower rate of being prone to illnesses. These include pneumonia and meningitis, digestive and respiratory problems and SIDS.

Nursing your baby between 3-6 months

Baby will be much healthier than a formula fed baby. Adding to this, they will have half as many ear infections as formula fed babies.

Mothers might shed the extra weight that was gained during pregnancy.

Nursing for 6 months

Baby will be less likely to have allergy issues. Mothers will probably not have a period during this time.

6 months of breastfeeding is usually the cutoff, meaning that your baby will be protected against mainly illnesses including childhood cancers.

Nursing for 9 months

You will be supporting many of your baby’s core developmental changes including teething, sitting up, pulling up, crawling and even starting solids.

Nursing for a year or more

The health benefits received by your baby during this time are bound to last a lifetime.

Children who are breastfed for longer periods tend to be more independent than babies who are weaned early.

Breastfeeding Positions

Mothers have been using a wide range of breast positions ever since the inception of breastfeeding.

It is important to note that there is No perfect position, but the best position for you is one that gives you a good latch.

That said, listed below are 5 best breastfeeding positions and ones that are commonly used by mothers around the globe.

Cross-cradle hold

This breastfeeding position is where the mother is feeding her baby with her left breast and would use her left arm to support her breast with the baby set in the right arm.

Although this position is not commonly used around the world, it is generally taught in the hospital.

  • First, grab a footstool or a pillow and sit comfortably
  • Next, hold your baby with their tummy tucked against yours, and support their head and neck with your hand. Ensure, your baby’s shoulders, ears and hip are in a straight line.
  • ​Next, hold your baby with their tummy tucked against yours, and support their head and neck with your hand. Ensure, your baby’s shoulders, ears and hip are in a straight line.
  • ​With your baby’s lower arm out of the way, place their mouth close to your breast.
  • Use all the fingers from your free hand to support your breast, but keep them away from your areola.
  • ​Now, place your thumb gently on top of your breast and above your areola.
  • Move your breast upwards, and gently stroke your nipple on your child’s lower lip. As part of their reflex, their mouth should open wide, but this may take a few minutes.
  • ​Once you notice this reflex, pull your baby more closer towards you to latch on when their mouth is open wide.
  • ​It is important Not to lean over your baby, but instead pull them towards you.
  • AKA Tummy-to-Tummy, the cross cradle position is good for nursing a newborn infant or when just starting out with breastfeeding.

Laid-back breastfeeding

Aka biological nursing, laid back breastfeeding position make breastfeeding less work for mothers and make it easier for babies to latch on.

This position allow a mother to find a well-supported, comfortable and semi-reclining position, and place the baby down on her chest and belly in a vertical position.

This laid back position benefit from the fact that babies have an innate ability to move towards their food source.

With this position, your baby is more in control, and is great in instances where your baby has been resisting latching.

When using laid back breastfeeding, generally each mom determines the best position by trial and error, but this is how its commonly done.

  • At the start of a feed, first lay back on a comfortable couch or sofa in a semi-reclining position and not flat. Make sure your whole back and neck are supported.
  • When you’re comfortable in this position, place your baby on your body with their feet near your thighs and head near your breasts.
  • It is important that your baby’s thighs and feet are in contact with you and not hanging off so you may need to bring your knees up to help.
  • Now bring your baby’s head in front of your nipple and allow them to latch on.

Vertical Baby or Straddle Breastfeeding Position

This is a great position for breastfeeding toddlers and is also known as the upright or koala hold.

It also gives your baby a better view as they nurse, and is a great choice if your baby has a runny nose or sore ear.

Another great time to use the saddle breastfeeding position is when your baby is suffering from excess wind or colic or simply when babies get too heavy to hold especially over longer periods.

If you’re experiencing nipple soreness, blocked ducts or mastitis, the koala breastfeeding position is highly recommended.

To use the saddle position, simply:

  • Sit in an upright position, while allowing yourself to recline a little
  • Place your baby on your hips/legs and facing your breast.
  • Allow them to lean forward and find your breasts.

Cradle Hold

This position puts moms completely in control of the breastfeeding session. This position is done by:

  • First, ensure your baby’s back is supported
  • Next, place your baby’s head in the crook of your arm
  • Hold the breast you’re going to use to feed and touch your baby’s lips, and wait until they open their mouth.

Football Hold

Also referred to as the underarm hold or clutch hold, this breastfeeding position is great for mothers who’ve just had a cesarean section. To do this, simply:

  • Grab a pillow to support your baby.
  • Tuck your baby under the same arm as the breast you’re going to be using.
  • ​Support your baby’s head with your thumb or thumb and forefinger
  • Then latch your baby in the same way as explained in the cross cradle hold

Benefits of breastfeeding vs. Formula

As a parent, one of the most important decisions you have to make is whether you’re going to breastfeed or bottle feed your child.

While there are pros and cons to each, here’s the lowdown to ease your decision.

Breastfeeding Benefits

  • Prevents a plethora of illnesses including SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Easy to digest compared to formula milk
  • ​Best natural source of antibodies
  • ​Improves cognitive functioning
  • ​May reduce the risk of diabetes Type 1 and Type 2, obesity and cholesterol
  • Convenient, fast and free

Breastfeeding Disadvantages

  • Uncomfortable feeling – latch on pain
  • Can be inconvenient owing to frequency of feeding
  • ​Must maintain diet
  • Bad option if on special medications

Formula Feeding Benefits

  • Other people can feed your baby when you’re not around
  • You can see how much your baby is eating at each feeding
  • ​Formula feeding is flexible
  • Manufactured under sterile conditions

Formula Feeding Disadvantages

  • Unable to match the complexity of breastmilk
  • Lacks antibodies
  • ​Can get expensive
  • ​Required preparation and organization
  • ​Can cause bowel problems
  • Can cause digestive problems

Breastfeeding Myths

breastfeeding myths

Breastfeeding is inarguably the best source of nutrients for your baby but does have a few myths associated with it. Let’s debunk some of them.

Breastfeeding comes naturally

Although it is normal and natural, breastfeeding isn’t easy. But although sometimes it may be challenging, the efforts are well worth it.

Babies are too tired eat

Some women claim that waking a baby for a feeding is not a good practice.

But this isn’t true! It’s true that most babies sleep for hours on end in the first days after birth, but they must eat every 1-3 hours per day or approximately 12 feedings within a 24 hour period.

Your milk supply is low

Sometimes your baby might not be ready for a feeding, but this doesn’t mean that your milk supply is low.

The best indicators that your baby is feeding right are weight gain, developmental milestones and dirty diapers.

Breastfeeding hurts

Most women say it; breastfeeding can be painful especially when you first get started.

But the last thing you should experience is shaking, cringing or even bleeding nipples.

You might feel an initial tingling sensation when you first start breastfeeding, but if this does get painful, seek medical assistance.

A bottle or pacifier may create nipple confusion

Your baby will never get confused, but they may simply develop a preference.

Babies should adhere to a schedule

Put aside the baby books and unsolicited advice.

Although most babies do follow a strict feeding schedule and eat and play pattern, not all babies are the same.

Heat heals engorgement

One of the suggested solutions for engorgement is getting in a hot shower or applying a warm washcloth.

But just like you would never apply heat to a swollen ankle, the same applies to your breasts.

Foods may give your baby gas

Some moms refrain from eating certain foods such as beans, broccoli and peppers as they feel the gas producing molecules from them will pass into breastmilk.

However, there is no evidence to support this theory.

You lose weight

Although this is somewhat true, it is not a hard and fast rule.

Breastfeeding is birth control

Although breastfeeding can suppress ovulation, it should not be considered as a sure shot natural contraceptive.

Breastfeeding makes breasts sag

Although breastfeeding on its own cannot do this, there may be other factors that contribute to sagging breasts.

Can’t breastfeed after surgery

Popular to contrary belief, if you’ve had surgery such as breast reconstruction or reduction, breast implants or breast surgery, you in most cases can still breastfeed.

Dos and Don’ts of Breastfeeding

  • First, do not believe that breastfeeding will hurt and that sore nipples are inevitable. If your baby is latched on appropriately, breastfeeding should not hurt.
  • It is a good idea to teach your infant how to breastfeed or nipple feed. Start by holding your breast steady, and compress it with your hand.
  • Next, bring the baby closer to you and try and place your nipple into the S spot in your baby’s mouth, which is between the baby’s soft and hard palate.
  • ​Rather than stuffing your breast in your baby’s mouth, bring your baby closer to you. To achieve this, hold the baby with their spine and base of the head.
  • ​A good practice is to use rapid arm movement and allow the baby to take your breast as deep into their throat as possible.
  • ​Don’t be discouraged if latching hurts. If it does, simply try again.
  • ​You must try and feed your baby at least 8-10 times a day. And remember, what goes in must come out so check for dirty diapers regularly.
  • If you’re having pain during breastfeeding, it is best not to make your baby feel discouraged or dissatisfied. Instead, speak to your doctor to help support and guide you through the process.

Final Thoughts:

The benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh those of formula feeding. The information provided in this article should encourage you to get on the breastfeeding trail and enjoy the benefits both for you and your child.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52687/

http://www.tensteps.org/benefits-of-breastfeeding-for-the-environment-society.shtml

http://www.ecofriendlyfood.org.au/breastfeeding_and_the_environment

http://motheringfromtheheart.com/Benefits.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52687/

http://www.pediatric.theclinics.com/article/S0031-3955(05)70298-4/fulltext

https://themilkmob.org/questions/breastfeeding-osteoporosis-fractures-females/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107093037.htm

​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFJQBdpIfqQ

​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSBCLW1IKbU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLZgu6jbhbM

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