The advantages of breast milk

Breastfeeding is the ideal way of meeting your child’s needs, it is a balance model. It contains all the nutritional elements necessary for their development and evolves along with their needs.

During the first few days, the mother produces colostrum, a thick, yellow liquid, very rich in proteins, lipids, free amino acids, mineral salts (magnesium, calcium) and immunoglobulins; it helps cope with the baby’s rapid growth and protect them from infectious risks. Colostrum is produced in small quantities: from 20 to 40ml per feeding, but this is adapted to the baby’s needs during their first days.

The transitional milk, particularly rich in lipids and lactose, replaces colostrum, approximately between the 3rd and the 15th day. The milk gradually becomes orange-white, less thick, and the quantity produced increases. This milk allows the baby to start gaining weight.

At the end of the 2nd week, the transitional milk becomes the mature milk, whose color is “bluish white”.

This milk varies over the course of the same day, offering more fat during the day than at night. Even while breastfeeding, it is more liquid at the beginning (to quench the baby’s thirst) and it gradually thickens after a few minutes (the amount of fat increasing to better satisfy them). The composition of your milk depends on your diet.

Besides these nutritional benefits, it should be noted that breastfeeding creates a special moment between you and your child, an intimacy that promotes their emotional fulfillment.


How to breastfeed?

The right position

You need to find the position that is most comfortable for you.

There are various positions, but always keep in mind that your baby should be completely turned towards you, with their tummy against yours. Their head, back and feet should be on the same axis. Your baby shouldn’t have to turn their head to latch on, as this could lead to neck pain.

You can sit in a chair, on a sofa or on your bed, with your back supported by a pillow, your arm placed on an armrest or on cushions, holding your baby’s head, and your legs slightly elevated. Their head rests in the hollow of your arm, your hand supports their buttocks. Try to relax as much as possible, relax your shoulders to fully enjoy this moment with your baby.

You can also breastfeed while lying down. In such case, lie on your side, with your upper body elevated and your lower back well supported by cushions. Your baby will lie on their side, facing you. This position can be pleasant at night and in the morning.


The first feeds

Place your baby’s mouth in front of the nipple, caress their lips with your nipple, and your baby will suck spontaneously; this is an innate reflex. It is important to make sure that your baby’s mouth is wide open when they latch on to the breast, so that they also latch on to the areola, and their tongue should be pointing downwards. If they only latch on to the front part of the nipple, they will apply traction with their gums, which can cause cracks. When they are no longer hungry, they will automatically let go of your breast. If they do not let go of your breast but no longer suck, reduce the vacuum created by the suction by pressing with your finger on the corner of their lips until they open their mouth.

Your baby, by stimulating the nipples with their mouth, sends a command to your brain to produce milk. The more your baby asks for, the more you will produce. That is the reason why, initially, it is recommended to breastfeed on demand to stimulate production. Over the first few days, feed from both breasts, alternating every 10 minutes, so as to encourage the milk to come in. Afterwards, you can alternate the breasts every other meal.

At first, feedings are usually 2 to 4 hours apart, including at night, because, in your womb, your baby was used to receiving continuous feeding. It will take 6 to 8 weeks before your baby sleeps through the night.


Your diet while breastfeeding

Breast milk is made from what the mother eats and from her nutritional stores. You developed good eating habits during your pregnancy, so the challenge now is to maintain them. You need to eat a bit of everything because the vitamin content of breast milk varies depending on what you eat.

To cover your baby’s needs, your diet must be balanced and varied.

It must be particularly rich in essential fatty acids omega 6 (linoleic acid) and omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid), unsaturated fats mostly found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel…) and vegetable oils.

Also, increase your consumption of dairy products so that your baby does not deplete your calcium stores: ideally, consume 4 dairy products per day, in the form of milk, yoghurt…, or cheese.

Your calorie intake should be increased by about 500 calories per meal in order to reach a richer daily intake of about 2,500 calories per day.

Remember to drink.  Water needs increase during breastfeeding, because milk is mainly made up of water (75% of its composition). Therefore, you should drink about 2 to 3 liters per day (water, fruit juices, herbal teas, soups).

Avoid skipping meals, and most importantly, do not try to be on a weight-loss diet that would automatically affect the quality of your milk.

Please note: many foods give milk a taste (cabbage, garlic, onion, celery), but you are not required to change your eating habits; on the contrary, these foods that flavor your milk allow your baby to discover new tastes.


Be careful!

Limit coffee and tea, because caffeine and theine pass into milk.

Don’t drink alcohol and ban cigarettes: alcohol and nicotine also pass into milk and are obviously harmful to the baby. For any questions or difficulties, ask your doctor for advice.

Lastly, don’t take any medication without first asking your doctor or pharmacist for advice, because medications pass into breast milk.

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