Breast milk contains all the essential vitamins, protective immunoglobulin, which helps protect the baby from infections and increases immune power of the baby!
How is breast milk made?
During the delivery of the baby, the removal of placenta initiates the
production of milk in the mother. A woman's breasts develop significantly during pregnancy and fatty tissues are
deposited around the breasts. Hormones that help in breast development are
called Oestrogen, Progesterone and Prolactin. Oestrogen helps in the development of milk ducts, whereas Progesterone
and Prolactin help in the development of alveolar cells (milk producing cells)
of the breasts.The hormone Prolactin causes the production of milk.
Benefits of breastfeeding
It is medically proven that breast
milk is the ultimate nutrition for an infant for a number of reasons. Some of
the benefits of breastfeeding include:
·Breast milk provides complete
nutrition to the newborn.
·Breastfeeding creates an emotional attachment
between mother and her baby
·Breast milk provides disease-fighting
substances called antibodies to the infant
·Breastfeeding reduces the chances of
breast cancer and ovarian cancer in lactating mothers.
·Breast milk reduces the chances of
childhood cancer in breastfed baby
·Temperature of breast milk is neither
too cold nor too hot, making it just right for the baby.
·Prevents allergies (for example
·Helps mother get back to her usual
size and the uterus shrinks back to normal as well because of breastfeeding.
What initiates outflow of breast milk?
The suckling of the nipple by the baby initiates the release of
breast milk which is stored in the alveoli of the breast.
How to breastfeed?
A proper technique may be implied upon for better breastfeeding.
Accurate breastfeeding gives ease to the baby to fulfil its hunger and
maintains lactation. This is how a lactating woman should practice breastfeeding:
· Mother should stroke
the infant’s mouth with her nipple so that the baby starts searching for the
· Hold the nipple
between her index finger and middle finger
· Make available the
areola part of the breast not only nipple which makes suckling more convenient
for the baby
Prevention of breast sores or cracked nipples
Once feeding is completed, detach the baby without causing you pain by
putting a little finger on the corner of the mouth of the baby and stop the suckling
process. This technique may prevent a lactating woman from getting her nipples cracked or infected which can be very painful.
Best time to start breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may be immediately started after birth or within 4-5 hours
of the birth of the baby. Normally breastfeeding is done after every 1-2 hours.
Frequency of breastfeeding is adjusted by the mother according to her baby’s
need. A woman may feed her baby 8-12 times in 24 hours.
Why is breast milk the best milk for the newborn?
Normal infants need two times more energy per kilogram of body weight.
Breast milk is considered as the best food supplement for the infant up to
a period of six months although weaning may be initiated after 2 months.
Breast milk contains all the essential vitamins, protective
immunoglobulin, which protects the baby from possible infections and give the
baby the strength to fight against viruses and germs. The water present in
breast milk fulfils the water demand of the baby and prevents dehydration, as the
baby can’t have as much water as needed by the body, on its own.
Energy requirements and Best Foods for the breastfeeding mother
The approximate energy required for lactation is around 2500kJ/day. A
well nourished pregnant woman has good energy stores and fatty tissue deposits
that are utilized for lactation.
Lactation may make women feel weak and fatigue. Lactating women are highly recommended to add carbohydrate foods to their diet to improve her health and provide her the energy she requires in her lactation period which is roughly up to 10000 KJ/day. However, this requirement may vary women to women. To learn more about what a breastfeeding mother should eat to ensure a sufficient milk supply and make the breastfeeding experience healthy, check out the list of best foods for the breastfeeding mother here.
Breast milk vs. cow milk
It is found that some women consider cow milk to be better than human
milk for their baby. However it is proven that human milk contains all the
essential nutrients for the proper growth of infant and provides all the
The table below compares the nutritional value of human milk
and cow milk:
High in best fatty acids
High in medium fatty acids
High in iron
Low in iron
Low in vitamin K
Low in vitamin C and D
Slower initially, faster after 30
What is formula milk?
Formula milk is a replacement of breast milk for those infants who are
unable to tolerate human milk constituents. Formula milk is prepared under the
same proportion of nutrients as breast milk but are basically cow milk
based formula .
Formula milk has the same amount of calories but it lacks in iron which
may result in Iron deficiency anemia. Few examples of formula milk are
soy milk, lactose etc.
Addition of citrus fruits in mother’s diet or infant’s diet may cause
diarrhea and rashes in baby.
Fish and egg whites
Your baby may not well tolerate the protein rich food and may lead to
life threatening allergies. Additionally, feeding fish to the baby may result
Nuts may lead to choking to occur in the baby. It is therefore better to avoid nuts to avoid possible choking hazards.
Feeding too much sweet food (for example chocolates, candies etc.) to
the baby may result in development of diabetes. Hence foods high in sugar
should not be fed in excessive amounts.
The infant’s mother is highly advised to stop having honey altogether
during the breastfeeding phase. Nor should she feed honey orally to the baby,
especially in the first year of the baby’s life. Doing so may lead to “infant
botulism”, a gut infection.
When is breastfeeding contraindicated?
Breastfeeding should be avoided when mother has any of the following
infections. Breastfeeding under any of these conditions may be harmful for
the mother, baby or both.
· Breast cancers
· Hepatitis B virus
· Substance abuse e.g
· Medicines e.g.
antineoplastics , lithium, chloramphenical
Sore breast is not a contraindication to breastfeeding. One of the most common reasons of sore breasts during the breastfeeding phase is engorgement.
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