- You should take 25% additional calories and nutrients compared to her pre-pregnancy food intake. Have a well balanced diet with sufficient proteins in form of milk and milk products, pulses, legumes, egg, poultry, green leafy vegetables and fruits.
- You should also consume omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. Fish and sea foods are good sources. If you are vegetarian you can take commercially available supplements.
- Drink plenty of water and liquids to replace the losses through breast milk.
- Avoid too many chilies and condiments.
- Breast milk produced during the first 3 days after delivery is called colostrum. It is yellow and thick.
- It has all the protective immunoglobulin, antibodies and white blood cells, thereby protecting your baby against various diseases.
- It has higher protein content and serves the nutritional needs of your baby, though it is in small quantity.
The composition of milk varies during phase of feeding. The milk, which is secreted at the start of feed, is called foremilk and the milk, which is secreted at the end of feed, is called hindmilk. Foremilk is rich in proteins, sugar, vitamins, minerals and water. Hind milk is rich in fat and provides more energy and satiety. Thus baby needs both foremilk and hindmilk.
You should sit up comfortably and keep baby’s head slightly raised. The baby’s head and neck are comfortably placed on the hollow of elbow while back and buttocks are supported by forearm and hand of mother.
While doing so, see that –
- Your baby’s whole body is supported, not just neck or shoulders.
- Head and body are in a line without any twist in the neck
- Baby’s body turned towards you and her abdomen touching your abdomen
- Touch your baby’s cheek or side of mouth to your breast so that the baby opens the mouth and turns towards the nipple.
- Now position the nipple and areola into baby’s mouth.
- Ensure good attachment and latching by seeing that
- Your baby’s mouth is wide open
- Chin of the baby touches the breast
- Nipple and most of the areola are inside your baby’s mouth. Lower lip is turned outward.
- And you don’t have any pain during feeding.
Baby suckles slowly and pauses in between to swallow. You can also see the movement of throat bones and muscles and hear the gulping sound. Your baby’s cheek would be full during sucking and not hollow or retracting. This will help you know that your baby is sucking effectively.
Nutrition: it contains all the nutrients your baby would need for normal growth and development, in optimum proportion and in a form that is easily digested and absorbed.
- It contains amino acids necessary for development of brain functions.
- It has fats necessary for synthesizing various hormones in your baby.
- It has adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- It has lots of protective factors and anti-infective substances, which will protect your baby from getting infection.
- Your child would be at lower risk of allergy, ear infections and dental problems.
- Your child would also be at lower risk of diabetes, heart disease later in life.
- You will have better bonding towards your child.
- Your baby’s mental growth would also be better.
For you, it would help in uterine involution, reduces the risk of cancer of breast & ovary and you would lose your excess weight too.
During first few days it is natural for most babies to fall asleep after taking few sucks. You can wake up the baby by gentle tickling behind the ears or on the soles during feeding. You should actively interact with your child while feeding.
If your baby has stopped sucking but is still maintaining strong suction, do not pull her off the nipple. You should slide your index finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction and slowly detach the baby.
You should feed your baby whenever baby is hungry i.e. on demand. There is no fixed timing. The more baby sucks onto you more milk would be produced. Some babies would need feeds at-least 8-10 times in a day with 1-2 feeds being during the night. There is no need to feed the baby every 2 hours by clock.
Your baby can spend 10-20 mins per breast, where as some spend much longer. Baby should be allowed to feed as long as he/she wants at one breast, before offering her other breast.
The most comfortable way to breastfeed your baby is to raise your baby up to breast height using lots of pillows. This will prevent you from leaning forward. Make sure your baby’s weight is not pressing on your abdominal incision.
There is no need to wash your breast before every feed, as it may lead to dryness and can even crack your nipple. All you need to do is daily bath and maintenance of personal hygiene.
You should not introduce bottle feeding until your doctor advices you to do so. Once your baby gets used to the bottle, baby will refuse to accept the breast because the former is easier. Breast-feeding would require coordinated movement of lips, gums and tongue. So your baby would prefer the easier method of bottle feeding.
Since bottle has a rubber head, your baby might start sucking or biting at your nipple (like how he/she would do with a bottle). This is called NIPPLE CONFUSION. This can even cause cracked nipples.
If you have adequately fed your baby, he/she would not ask for a feed for the next 2 to 3 hours. He/She would pass good amount of urine, at-least 6-8 times a day and would gain around 25-30 grams per day during first 4 months. So basically, if your baby is thriving well, playful and happy she is getting enough milk.
You can express your milk manually or with the help of a breast pump.
- Manual Breast Pump: You place a cone shaped shield on your breast and squeeze the handle to express the milk. This will be useful if you are away from the baby occasionally.
- Electrical Breast Pump: If you are returning to work full time then electric breast pump is a better option.
- Don’t make the procedure stressful. Be relaxed as stress can hamper milk supply.
- Continue breast-feeding when you are with your baby.
- Express/Pump your milk often every 2-3 hours even when you are working.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
When your baby feeds, she would also suck in air. The swallowed air tends to bloat her stomach causing discomfort. If baby swallows excessive air, his/her abdomen would get tensed and can result in crying episodes. The gas would also travel through the intestine, giving rise to irritation, which would make the baby even more restless. To prevent all this you have to burp your child. When the baby’s back is gently rubbed, the milk goes down under influence of gravity and air rises up. So the swallowed air would be expelled out and the baby would be comfortable.
Once you have finished feeding put her on your shoulder with her abdomen resting against your body. You can use a towel under the baby’s chin or on your shoulder. Now gently pat or rub her back till she burps.
Milk contains adequate milk sugars and does not require refined sugar to be added to it.
You can store breast milk in a sterilized container:
- At room temperature up to 6 hours.
- In the fridge for up to five days at 4°C or lower
- For two weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge
- For up to six months in a freezer
Breast milk must always be stored in a sterilized container. If you use a pump, always sterilize it before and after use. If you have frozen your milk, defrost it in the fridge before giving it to your baby. Once it’s defrosted, use it straight away. Milk that's been frozen is still good for your baby and better than formula milk. Many breast pumps come with custom containers that can be used as storage and feeding bottles; others allow you to use a standard feeding bottle to collect milk.