Excited yet anxious about your breastfeeding journey dear mums & mums-to-be? Having sleepless nights with troubling questions about feeding and supply popping up constantly? Well, depression often happens due to ignorance and is applicable to this situation as well. So here are some of the basics about feeding and lactation, that will wisen you up for the better besides answering all your important queries.
First things first, these are two golden rules of breastfeeding, that you must never ever forget.
- Feed frequently: The more your nipples get stimulated the more milk you will make.
- Be Happy: Stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol and reduces the production of the hormone Oxytocin. That’s not good for you as Oxytocin is the key hormone behind milk initiation and let down.
Now let's move onto the basics then. How can you ensure that you have enough milk to feed your baby? Well in India, the tradition of wet nursing, or feeding multiple babies has been prevalent for ages.So it shouldn’t be a big problem for you to produce enough feed for your single baby. So, no need to get unduly tensed about it.
It would be worthwhile to mention at this point that the whole idea of preparing yourself for breastfeeding during pregnancy is an absolute joke, there isn’t a single penny of truth in it. You can’t increase your milk production either through stimulation or by eating special foods. So leave it to your body and nature!
An important thing that you should remember is the fact that during the first two days after childbirth, you will produce only colostrum in very small quantities. There is nothing really abnormal about this so please don’t panic or entertain unreasonable expectations. Additional nutrition is also not required as your baby receives it before birth from your placenta itself.
Another important fact to note here is that your baby will cry and it's nothing but a natural defensive reaction due to exposure to an alien environment. But once you start cradling them in your arms, they will relax and fall asleep. It happened because of your love, warmth of touch and heartbeat and had nothing to do with feeding. So change your perception about it.
The next important thing to consider is the natural hardwiring of your baby’s brain for greater feeding, which help in increasing your milk production through greater stimulation and is also the reason behind their ever so frequent crying. Though it can lead to certain pitfalls too, which you need to be careful about.
You see babies have a really tiny stomach. In fact they can only digest about 5ml of food when they are born, but once they start receiving formula in large quantities, their stomach gradually becomes distended and gets enlarged. This results in a sharp increase in their appetite, resulting in an overload of demand which your body can’t satisfy naturally, so you start becoming more and more dependent on formula, setting off a vicious cycle which completely undermines your natural breastfeeding relationship with your infant.
Therefore, it becomes imperative to realise and understand that continuous formula feeding to calm your baby is not the ideal solution. Babies cry for a wide variety of reasons, it's one of their primary forms of communication, but every cry of hers need not be for feeding. So it becomes crucial here that you understand their cues and use other relaxation techniques.
And the last thing that you should follow is the maxim of sustainable feeding. Don’t over or underfeed and force feeding is a strict no-no. So if your baby turns away from the spoon or bottle please respect that. He/She is intelligent enough to recognise their feeding needs. Thus, follow this and ensure the natural growth of your child’s stomach.
If you have any other concerns regarding breastfeeding, then reach out to a lactation counsellor for proper advice, rather than get confused by a hailstorm of advice from countless relatives and friends, In fact, a lactation counsellor will not only help you in identifying your problem correctly but will also prescribe the right solution for it.
So enjoy your beautiful journey of motherhood and cherish the beautiful gift of breastfeeding that evolution gave you. After all, it’s your very own personal superpower from nature.
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