Breastfeeding is a way of feeding the baby with milk form the mother's breast. Mother's milk is the best possible source of nourishment for a newborn child. It has an ideal composition of basic nutrients, such as sacharids, fat, proteins, vitamins, minerals and also contains substances which protect the child from illnesses. The amount and concentration of nutrients in milk changes based on the needs and development of the growing baby. After a simple birth, the first breastfeeding should be done in the delivery room, withing 30 minutes of birth. The first breastfeeding causes great changes in the baby's immune system.
The mammary gland is a part of a breast, together with fat and connective tissue. The breast's structure changes during pregnancy. The mammary gland grows at the expense of fatty tissue. This occurs by the means of two hormones. Progesteron causes the growth of the gland and estrogen helps develop the gland's ducts. A part of the brain, hypophysis starts producing a hormone, prolactin after the third month of pregnancy, which in turn helps produce first breast milk, known as colostrum. Prolactin levels keep rising throughout the entire pregnancy. Oxytocin is release during the birth, causing contractions of the uterine muscles, important for expelling the child, but it also causes contractions of the smooth muscles around the mammary glands and expels newly produced milk into the ducts. Milk is produced on its own and the production lasts for as long as the nipple stimulation caused by breastfeeding keeps signaling its need.
Types of milk when breastfeeding
Colostrum is the first milk the baby receives. It's thick with yellowish color. Colostrum contains a large amount of protein, antibodies and minerals. It boosts the child's immune system and help maturing its intestinal mucosa. After 2 weeks, colostrum changes into true breast milk, which is thinner and white to transparent. The milk released at the start of breastfeeding is watery with low concentration of fat and high content of sacharids. It helps quench the baby's thirst. After about 10 minutes of breastfeeding, a more cream-like milk appears, rich in fat. 5 more minutes is enough. The entire length of breastfeeding should be 15-20 minutes. Since a breastfed baby is entirely dependent on mother's milk, it is important for the mother to maintain a healthy life style and a proper, nutritious diet. It is necessary to avoid regular and excessive consumption of alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks, smoking and drugs, since they stunt development and cause the children to become restless. You should not breastfeed if using cytostatics, certain antibiotics, sedatives and psychoactive medication.
Complications of breastfeeding
A necessary requirement for successful breastfeeding is giving the child a nipple withing half an hour after birth. Breastfeeding occurs in intervals of about 2-3 hours. If the child suckles long and ineffectively, if it's restless or the breastfeeding is painful, it can be cause by an improper breastfeeding technique. Other problems or diseases can also occur, preventing breastfeeding. On the mother's side, these are mainly serious infective diseases, on the child's side it's galactosemia, the inability to digest lactose. Soreness of breasts and nipples, their tearing and injuries are a common problem. Other issues are a buildup of milk, an inflammation of the mammary gland, or candidosis, a yeast infection of the breast. Children born prematurely have a weak sucking reflex or are unable to coordinate sucking and breathing. The mother's breast can be underdeveloped and the milk production insufficient as well. In this case a switch is made to an infant formula.
A comfortable position for both the mother and the child is important for breastfeeding. The woman can be supported by pillows, a special nursing pillows exist providing relief when holding the child. It is necessary for the child to be held securely by its mother. The child should also be dressed appropriately, if a child is too hot, it stops feeding early and falls asleep. At home, breastfeeding can be done skin to skin, whit the mother being naked from the waist up and the child only wearing a diaper. Careful with drafts. Among the general rules of healthy breastfeeding is bringing the child to the nipple, not vice-versa, since that could lead to upsetting the comfort and quality of breastfeeding. The child should have its belly pressed to the mother, there should be no obstacle between them. The mother brings the child to her by its should and its back, the head should never be forcibly pressed to the breast, since the child will pull away if pressed. Breastfeeding should not be painful. If you encounter any pain, the most likely cause is incorrect breastfeeding technique, please consult lactation counseling, where trained personnel can provide guidance.
Advantages of breastfeeding
Children should be breastfed entirely for the first 6 months. They receive all necessary nutrients, including antibodies boosting their immune systems in the milk. After half a year it is recommended to begin with supplementing baby food, but breast milk should remain an important part of the baby's diet, up until 2 years or even more. Breastfed children have a lower risk of sudden death as well as other diseases, such as allergies, asthma, digestive tract diseases and inflammatory diseases. Breastfeeding is advantageous to the mother as well. Breastfeeding women suffer less from anemia, have a significantly lowered risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, frequent and full breastfeeding has a noticeable contraceptive effect and brings psychological relaxation as well as strengthening the bond to the child.