How long and often should you breastfeed? How does the production of milk change after birth? What is the difference between colostrum and the proper milk? How to latch? We ask ourselves these questions at the beginning of feeding. Here you will find the answers.
In the beginning many mums are concerned whether the baby latches properly, whether the breasts produce enough milk, why are the breasts hard and full when the baby suckles a lot. Many doubts can be explained by the nature of lactation course:
Milk production during pregnancy
Lactation begins as early as in 16 week of gestation. Increased level of prolactin triggers the production of colostrum. However, this is only a tiny amount, as milk production is inhibited by hormones called gestagens. Their level rapidly decreases during labor, after placental expulsion. Therefore you can start breastfeeding just from the moment of birth. This way your body will get an additional signal to intensify milk production.
For about 1-2 days after birth, the breasts give off only drops of yellow, thick liquid, instead of normal milk. This is colostrum, the first milk containing a lot of concentrated nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and primarily proteins). It meets all the initial nutritional needs of a baby. Just a few milliliters per one feeding is enough for a child to receive proper amount of nutrients. Small amount of fluid protects the child's kidneys from excessive load. Colostrum contains less fat and sugar, and thus it is easy to digest and high protein content provides protection against infection, as it mostly contains immune proteins.
High milk supply, i.e. the beginning of mature milk production
Increased milk production begins between 3 and 5 day from the start of breastfeeding. Breasts become heavy and full between feedings, and if they are insufficiently emptied they may become hard, and swollen. Milk is gradually changing its composition, it contains more fats and carbohydrates and less protein than colostrum. In this period it is essential to latch the baby as often as possible. Correct latching enables sufficient breast emptying, prevents milk stasis and breast inflammation.
Baby does not bite and does not hurt the nipple while suckling. Breast-feeding is painless.
It guarantees deep, efficient suckling. The child is sated and calm and he gains weight properly.
It causes good breast emptying, prevents breast fullness, mastitis and breast stasis. Relieves full breasts.
It allows for active work of your baby's lip and tongue muscles that are responsible for speech and bite development.
Successful breastfeeding depends on learning how to latch. This way the baby will suckle milk effectively, and breastfeeding will be a pleasure for both of you. Here are some of tips on proper latching:
Sit comfortably and place the child so that his face is directed towards your breast. Do not lean over the baby - do not bring the breast to the baby, but the baby to the breast.
Tickle the baby's cheek or lower lip with the nipple to stimulate the rooting reflex.
When the child opens his mouth wide, use you hand holding the little one's neck to bring his lips to your breast. The baby's lips should cover the nipple and a large part of the areola. The lips should be curled out and the chin and tongue tip should touch the breast during feeding.
You can help the baby to latch on the breast by holding it with your thumb over and the other fingers under the areola.
Correct suckling should be accompanied not be smacking sounds, but by swallowing that resembles the "k" sound.
Do not set fixed feeding times. Nurse your baby as often and as long as he needs ("on-demand"). It is enough that you breastfeed at least every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night for your breasts to produce sufficient amount of milk (not less than 8 breastfeeding sessions per day). Some children need to be fed every two hours, the other demand the breast all the time. Long breastfeeding sessions do not mean that the baby is not getting enough milk. If he gains weight properly, there is no need for extra drinks.
Milk demand increases during developmental leaps at 3, 6 and 12 week and 3 and 6 month of age (it usually lasts for 2-3 days). You may have an impression that your baby is suckling all the time, and you do not have enough milk. The truth is that frequent and long-lasting suckling stimulates your breasts to produce milk, which is certainly not lacking. Therefore, do not feed the baby with a formula.