- Why Breastfeed?
- Nursing Matters
- Do Breastfeeding Babies Need Water?
- Common Breastfeeding Misunderstandings
"Breast milk is alive â€¦ Breast milk is dynamic", states Dr. Harry Pellman, MD in Pediatrics for Parents. "Breast milk is different the first day of life than the seventh or hundredth day. It is different in the morning than at night. It is different in the beginning of a feeding than the end of the feeding. The milk even adapts and changes depending on the infant's health." Breast milk is completely adaptable to the needs of the infant. If a mother gives birth prematurely, the vitamin and mineral content of colostrum (the first milk that a woman produces after giving birth) will be different than the colostrum of a mother who gives birth to a full-term infant. Mother's breast milk tastes differently at each feed which is a nice variety for the baby. The baby who is fed formula experiences the same taste 8-10 times per day for an average of 18 months â€¦ boring!
Colostrum is the wonder food of the world!
- Colostrum is the yellow/gold fluid that nourishes the infant's first few days of life.
- Colostrum has high concentrations of nutrients and protection against infectious disease.
- It contains more protein, less sugar, and much less fat than mature breast milk. The baby receives teaspoons, not ounces, on purpose. Not feeling full encourages the baby to nurse frequently, which assures that the baby gets the colostrum he needs.
- Colostrum coats the intestines, protecting them for the rest of the child's life.
- Colostrum is rich in vitamins and minerals that help ensure a healthy gastrointestinal tract as the child ages.
Nursing a baby is a learned art. Although it is the "natural" way to feed a baby, most women are not born with an innate knowledge of how to nurse. Babies are born with the natural need to suck, but can have difficulty nursing with medicated births and poor birthing positions. Once the nursing couple overcomes these difficulties, the benefits of breastfeeding are remarkable and definitely worth the extra effort. Just to name a few:
- Breastfed children are said to have fewer instances of diabetes mellitus and Crohn's disease.
- Breast milk contains special mucins that make it difficult for intestinal bacteria to attach to the infant's bowel; attachment is necessary for infection to occur.
- IQ scores appear to be higher in breastfed infants.
- Breast milk is always the right temperature for the baby.
- Breast milk saves you money.
- Breast milk is available and ready for the child 24 hours a day. And breastfeeding is good for the mother.
A study conducted by Romieu et al (American Journal of Epidemiology) found that "Duration of lactation, even short-term was associated with reduced risk of breast cancer." The hormones secreted by the mother to make breast milk also benefit the mother in many ways. Prolactin and oxytocin are relaxing hormones that make the nursing mother feel calm and secure. After the mother has mastered the art of breastfeeding the mother will see how nursing the baby not only calms the baby, but also calms the mother.
Breast-feeding should never hurt! The breasts were created to feed from. If the baby is latched on properly and coordinating his suck correctly, the nipples will not hurt. Therefore breasts require no creams or lotions during the breastfeeding experience. The breasts have tiny bumps around the areola called Montgomery glands or Montgomery tubercles. These glands become enlarged or look like small pimples that secrete a substance that lubricates and protects the nipples and areola during pregnancy and lactation. A small amount of milk may also secrete from these glands. Creams and lotions could block these brilliant glands so it is best to stay away from creams. If there is pain and the baby is latching deeply onto the breast, the mother may have a yeast infection behind the nipple. Dr. Ruth Lawerence in her book, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, teaches that the incidence of fungal infections has increased dramatically in the past decade probably due to the widespread use of antibiotics. Anytime a woman is exposed to antibiotics during her last trimester of pregnancy or during delivery she is prone to develop yeast overgrowth. You cannot see yeast overgrowth on the nipple and you may not see thrush in the babyâ€™s mouth. The mother may experience burning, biting, sharp, shooting or stinging pain while nursing. The pain is usually the only sign that the mother is experiencing a yeast infection. Your doctor can prescribe an antifungal cream for the mother and baby. An antifungal cream is the only cream that may ever be needed during lactation.
Breast-feeding is an art that needs to be learned and developed by each nursing couple. It is a learning experience for both the mother and the baby. Some women learn the art faster than others and some babies learn the art faster than other babies. But, with diligent effort, patience, and help from a knowledgeable nurse or Lactation Consultant all women can master breastfeeding and learn to enjoy the wonderful gift that women have been given: the ability to nourish and comfort their babies.Top
Nursing your baby can be stressful, but the hormones released during nursing actually allow mothers to stay calmer in stressful situations! Studies at McGill University shows those who do not nurse their babies have more difficulty dealing with stressful situations. Research from McGill's Douglas Hospital Research Center in Montreal suggests that nursing moms react less to stressful situations than moms who bottle-feed. Fifty mothers of babies less than three months old were each asked to give a speech, solve math problems, and watch a video showing hurt and lost children. During the tasks researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in each mother's saliva. Nursing moms had lower levels, and the effect was greatest in moms who had nursed with more than one child. According to senior researcher Clair-Dominique Walker, PhD, "mothers should consider nursing for their own good as well as their babies."Top
As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer moms and their babies begin to spend more time outdoors. Breastfeeding mothers often wonder whether or not their babies need to be supplemented with water at this time. The answer to this question is, no! Breast milk contains 88% water and is perfectly formulated to satisfy a babyâ€™s needs no matter what the weather is. Giving water to a breastfeeding baby six months and younger is actually more dangerous than helpful. A breastfeeding mother who herself is well-hydrated and is allowing her baby to breastfeed as often as the baby desires will ensure a well-hydrated baby no matter how hot the weather becomes.
A number of studies have been done in various locations (both humid and dry climates) at temperatures ranging from 22-41Â°C (71.6-105.8Â°F) and 9-96% relative humidity, questioning whether or not breastfed babies need extra hydration. These studies have determined that an exclusively breastfed baby absolutely does not need water in addition to breast milk. Giving supplemental water to a newborn (under 5 weeks old) can actually be dangerous. Too much water can dilute the sodium in the babyâ€™s bloodstream to the point where â€śoral water intoxicationâ€ť develops. Oral water intoxication can lead to symptoms like low body temp, bloating, and seizures. Breastfeeding babies who have reached the six-month mark also do not need water, but it is not harmful if they occasionally sip water from a cup.
Although breastfed babies do not need any supplemental water, it is interesting to note that formula-fed babies sometimes do. Formula has a higher salt level that can be harder on their kidneys and therefore some babies may need extra water to help them excrete it. Formula fed babies also have less efficient metabolisms than breastfed babies, so they use up water faster. (Ask your doctor for recommended amounts of water in this case.)
So, go outside with your beautiful baby, and enjoy the much-anticipated sunshine. Be stress free and happy and know the only thing your baby may need in the sun is a hat J (and perhaps an extra diaper!).Top
Breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging parts of being a new mother. There is a lot of pressure to do it, to do it well and to reap all kinds of benefits like bonding with your child, providing the best possible nutrients to your child etc. etc. etc.
Together Family recently spoke to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Sara Chana, about some pressing issues surrounding breastfeeding.
TF: What is the most common mistake or misunderstanding that breastfeeding mothers have?
SC: Oh my gosh, Iâ€™m glad you asked that because this happens ALL THE TIME! The biggest mistake that I see, breastfed babies gain a lot of weight between 0 and 5 months. And very often babies that are fully breastfed stop gaining a lot of weight after five months. Then doctors go berserk and so do moms. But breastfed babies and formula fed babies gain weight at different rates. So if Iâ€™ve got a baby who starts slowing down at five months in their weight gain but theyâ€™ve gained enough weight in the first five months, thatâ€™s when women and doctors say start adding solids. And I say NO WAY! And this is my philosophy why: babies get nice and pudgy from 0-5 months if theyâ€™re fully breastfed and theyâ€™re doing well. Then they put on a bit of weight between 5 and 7 months. Then they start crawling. And they start losing a lot of that body fat and they pull themselves to standing, and they start gaining muscle structure. So if babies gained a lot of weight between 0 and 5 months and continued to gain a lot of weight from 5 to 7 they would have a harder time crawling and a harder time standing up. So my breastfed babies that have good internal development from 0-6 months, I say let them go. They will slow down [gaining weight] between 5 and 7 months but it doesnâ€™t mean they need solids, it means they are preparing to crawl and stand up. If babies are not doing well between 0-6 weeks we know we have a problem then, be it a problem with the mom or a problem with the baby. But if that baby has done gloriously until five months and hasnâ€™t had bouts of diarrhea, hasnâ€™t had Strep Throat, hasnâ€™t had ear infections, the mom is doing very well, you canâ€™t get me to add solids before nine months, you canâ€™t.
TF: What other common mistakes or misconceptions do you see with breastfeeding mothers?
SC: When the breasts start to go back to their previous shape and size, then women feel like they donâ€™t have any more breast milk. So as the baby gets a little more independent the breasts go back to smaller shape and women are sure they have no more breast milk. And thatâ€™s wrong. Their breasts are fine. The breasts will get very soft and smushy because the breast milk is only made upon compression. So women need to just know that they have enough milk even when their breasts get floppy. And, sometimes when babies are around six months, they are so proficient on the breast that the mothers say they have no milk. Then they weigh their breasts after nursing (I have a very high-tech scale here to weight breasts before and after feeding) and it turns out the babies are taking six ounces of milk in three and half minutes! Did you know that an eighteen-pound baby can take in a minimum of fifty ounces of milk in a day? So thatâ€™s another thing, when women feel thereâ€™s no milk left, thereâ€™s usually tons.
By Sara Chana Silverstein, IBCLC, BA, Herbalist and Student of Homeopathy. She is a licensed Lactation Consultant helping women and babies with breastfeeding problems. She also works with children and adults with chronic ear and strep infections, stomach problems and emotional issues. She can be reached at 718-467-1455.Top