August first marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week. Breast milk provides babies with the nutrients it needs and strengthens the bond of love between mothers and their babies.
Breast milk is the best and only form of nourishment that a mother can offer their child the moment they are born. It supports the development of babies’ brains, digestion, immune systems and also supports their emotional development. Promoting this act of love is the objective of world breastfeeding week, which is being held in 170 countries with the objective of contributing to the integral development of children. The World Health Organization, the Colombian Ministry of Health and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding exclusively during the first six months of life. The following are some tips to consider.
- Because breastfeeding is a process based on supply and demand, all mothers produce a sufficient supply of quality breast milk. When breastfeeding, mothers should be aware of some important techniques: the baby’s mouth should be wide open and well-attached to the areola. The more suction there is, the more milk will be produced.
- A healthy and balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins is all the mother needs to receive proper nourishment and produce milk. Calcium can come from a variety of non-dairy sources such as green vegetables, seeds, nuts and fish such as sardines and salmon.
- There are no specific foods that increase or decrease the production of milk. If the mother feels that a certain food is affecting her negatively, however, and feels that her baby is being affected as well, it is best to refrain from breastfeeding for a short period. It is important to know that onions, asparagus or some highly seasoned foods can change the flavor of breast milk.
- It is normal for mothers to have nipple pain or to fear they will not have enough milk when they breastfeed. During this stage, it is helpful for mothers to receive the support of a specialized healthcare team that can be there for her in this new phase. It is also important for mothers to share how they are feeling with family members in order to have a more positive experience throughout this process.
- After the baby’s first six months of life, the suggestion is to complement breastfeeding with different food groups: vegetables, fruits, tubers and meats, among others. In this first stage of eating, offer them blended foods, followed by chopped foods and finally solid foods. This helps the chewing process develop.
A milk bank at home
The idea here, is for mothers to have a supply of breastmilk, especially for when her maternity leave is over and she must return to her job. How does this work?
- Obtain breast milk through manual extraction or by using breast pumps.
- Store it in glass recipients or special bags designed for breastmilk. It is important for them to be well-sealed.
- Label the recipient with the date and time it was extracted. Store it in the freezer in a place where it receives a cool, direct flow of air so that it does not thaw and lose its properties.
- Breastmilk can be frozen for up to three months.
56 of 100 babies begin breastfeeding within the first hour of being born,
according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
What is the best position to breastfeed in?
It is important for both mothers and babies to be comfortable. Mothers can choose from several different positions including: being seated, laying down or using a cradle or football hold (which can be very helpful with twins). This way the babies are on both sides of her and she can hold their heads and have her hands in front of her chest while their bodies and feet are behind. Using pillows can be very helpful for supporting their bodies.
Is breast milk the same as feeding with commercial milk?
No. Breast milk is specifically designed for humans and contains the exact nutrients and substances that guarantee the baby’s growth and development. It also protects them from infections, otitis, malnutrition, childhood diabetes, and prevents them from becoming overweight or obese as an adult. Cow milk is for calves and contains nutrients that babies’ bodies are not designed to receive.
Should breastfeeding be done on a schedule?
In the first six months of life, breastfeeding should occur on an on-demand basis or because the baby is hungry, the mother feels her breasts are full or because both want to have physical and loving contact. The habits of when babies eat, sleep and wake up are similar to those of the basic needs of any mammal. Each baby is unique and different and over time will adapt to the patterns of their new environment.