Continuing on our blog theme of last week, we will be looking at your breast and breast feeding in a bit more detail this week.
When breastfeeding the correct latch is very important, if you do not have the correct latch, your nipple will hurt with every feed!
So, what is the correct way to latch?
- Your Areola is like a bull’s eye for your baby, because their sight is not yet very well developed the darkened Areola is a way for the baby to focus on the are it needs to go to for feeding.
- Rubbing your nipple on your baby’s cheek or bottom lip will encourage your babies natural rooting action and will prompt your baby to open their mouths wide.
- Position your nipple in between your babies’ nose and upper lip which will encourage baby to open their mouths wide enough so that the nipple is at the back of the palate, babies’ lips should be flanged around the Areola imitating a "Kellogg's k" position on the breast.
- The initial latch will sting a little with the initial let-down of the milk but shouldn't last too long. If you are feeling pain while baby feeds that is a tell-tail sign that the latch is incorrect. It's best to put in your index finger in-between baby's mouth & your breast to break the seal and then remove the baby from your breast and start again from the beginning.
- There are a few positions that moms can be free to try out but the easiest one is positioning baby's tummy onto mummy’s tummy,
In some instances, moms in their second trimester start releasing a little bit of a thin and clear discharge from breasts called Colostrum. Although, high levels of Progesterone actually prevent Lactation from occurring before birth, most of the time it is only released once the baby is born. Colostrum is "liquid gold" that has the best antibodies, protein and other nutrients that baby needs. You'll find that you will probably produce about 2 tablespoons of colostrum within the first 24 hours after giving birth. Although your milk comes in after birth whether baby nurses or not, it's truly only the constant removal of milk from the breast that can maintain milk production once you begin to lactate keeping your milk supply up and steady.
As baby sucks on the breast, your pituitary gland is stimulated to release oxytocin and prolactin and it is these very hormones that influence milk production. The more baby nurses, the more milk is produced.
You get 3 types of breast milk stages:
- Preterm milk it is high in fats and proteins and only changes into mature milk after a month, this happened if you were to give birth prematurely.
- Transitional milkis the mixture between colostrum and mature milk, usually from day 3-5...it is still very rich in colostrum, so this is a huge advantage.
- Mature milk is usually from day 5 onwards. It has more than a single substance as it releases two types if milk at each feed known as the foremilk & hind milk. Foremilk is the first milk that comes out of your breast as baby starts feeding, and hind milk is the very high-quality milk that comes after foremilk, most babies do not remove all the milk that is available in the breast during a single feed. They usually take 2/3 of available Breastmilk in the breast.
Human milk is unique and one of the greatest benefits is that it cannot be duplicated. This, however is one of the most important characteristics about Breastmilk which is different in formula. You will release different amounts of nutrients especially antibodies depending on baby's needs. The antibodies actually fight infections in baby. This is the reason why Breastmilk is said to be "living". The enzymes available in Breastmilk help the baby's gut to digest the meal. While you breastfeed your baby, you release macrophages through Breastmilk which engulf or gobble up germs within the baby which therefore helps to boost the baby's immune system which is otherwise still very weak.
Engorgement refers to a time when your breasts become full of milk, swollen, the nipple & areola are tight, and it is usually quite painful and uncomfortable. It usually happens when mature milk comes in, in preparation for exclusive breastfeeding. Baby usually struggles to latch properly but it's probably a great idea to feed frequently in order to reduce the amount of milk in your breast at any given time. It's also a great idea to lightly hand express although it will be painful, before latching baby*. In order to avoid engorgement, it is advisable to feed baby often (every 2-3 hours), always feel the weight of each breast and if it still feels quite full make sure that you hand express or use a pump to release the excess so that you get relief. It is advisable to relieve the pressure of engorgement by taking warm showers and while in the shower stroking each breast with both hands towards the nipple. Sometimes the milk begins to flow or leak naturally. Heat usually softens the breasts, alternatively using frozen packs or bags of peas/sweetcorn covered with cloth/flannel of some sort alternating 15min on and 15 off alternating on each breast will also help reduce pain associated with engorgement. Be aware that the freezing & thawing long term will promote growth of bacteria.
An old wives’ tale that works wonders is to put large cabbage leaves (cut out in the middle, exposing the nipple) under your feeding bra. They should be used only if the discomfort lasts in order to avoid reducing milk supply. But in today’s day and age you can use * Mama Mio Pregnancy Boobtube that can be applied whenever you feel the need to relieve your breast of any discomfort, the Mama Mio Pregnancy Boob Tube contains cabbage extract the age-old secret to help soothe swollen nursing boobs.
* although disposable pads seem convenient and easy to use, they can also breed germs if not changed frequently especially once wet. It's advisable to use washable & breathable cotton nursing pads. **check out washable bamboo breast pads from (Nappy Emporium)
*make sure that the latch is correct each time to avoid nipples from cracking...best nipple cream must contain lanolin, e.g. *Mama Mio Keep Calm Nipple Balm which contains medical grade Lanolin to relieve and soothe delicate skin with organic oils. No need to remove prior to breastfeeding.
Clogged ducts are also a common problem when Breastmilk is not removed and is retained. This causes small lumps that might be painful/ swollen. To avoid this, make sure you Massage the breast near the clogged duct as baby feeds; take warm showers; nurse frequently and start with the affected side first; apply warm cloths to the affect area15 min before feeding baby. Physiotherapist can use ultrasound to help encourage the flow of Breastmilk and to encourage healing.
Mastitis usually occurs because of a bacterial infection in the breast. It usually begins with clogged ducts/ cracked nipple and if not treated properly it goes over into Mastitis. Antibiotics are used to treat it, but it is also advisable to still nurse frequently, get lots bed-rest, keep hydrated and to take warm showers.
When to feed
I often encourage moms to feed babies on demand which actually helps to increase milk supply. With that said this should be followed after baby has had a good "golden hour" of feeding whereby you have seen the movement of the lower jaw, felt the strong suction while baby feeds as well as uterine contractions as baby feeds. This is felt strongly usually in moms who had natural birth on day 1 as opposed to Caesarean section moms. It's also a great idea to watch baby's feeding cues such as rooting, opening mouth wide and turning the head and crawling towards the breast, sucking on fist, etc. The first few days after birth will be interesting because you will be doing a bit of feeding on demand as well as feeding on schedule. I recommend Feeding on schedule every 2-3 hours when baby is sleepy especially if mom was given medications during labor.
How long to feed
Lactation Specialists often recommend that feeding for 15 min on each side until baby is full is the best way to feed. It is a great idea to watch what baby is doing instead of following the scheduled feed. Therefore as long as you are leaving the baby to feed long enough on each side in order for them to get both foremilk and hindmilk.
Breastfed babies eat more often than formula fed babies. Frequent feedings satisfy baby and also encourage your body to make more milk. It is often rare to overfeed a baby when breast feeding but make sure that baby is weighed weekly.
As pregnancy progresses, the breast size increases which means that you will need to invest in a good fitting nursing bra. Cup size and bra band increases as well. A bra that opens from the top is advisable as it will make it easy to access the breast without a great fuss. Choose a bra with breathable cotton. I would suggest that you stay away from sports bras and push-up bras as they can send a signal to the brain to slow down milk production. I would suggest Carriwell nursing bras which are one of the very few with underwire recommended by Lactation Consultants.
Moms diet when feeding-
Increase essential Amino Acids in a form of protein such as milk, cheese, eggs and meat or for vegetarian mom quinoa, buckwheat, tofu (soy) would be good options to consider.
Moms atmosphere when feeding-
Your state of mind is influenced by stress, being distracted or if the letdown reflex is delayed. The main factors which affect letdown reflex include cold, pain, fatigue, caffeine & nicotine. The good news is that the prolactin produced when baby suckles is a natural tranquilizer.
** TIP - before breastfeeding baby, stretch out arms to the front&upwards&to the sides
Take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Get comfortable on a chair with footstool, put a pillow under the side that baby is latched on / feeding pillow which goes across your body; prepare a tray with water and snacks for you to eat while feeding baby, you will feel very thirsty and hungry a few minutes into your feeding and then you wont be able to get up, so make sure you have all your things in arm’s length.
Stay tuned for next week as we talk about expressing your milk and how to take care of it, whether it is because you are going back to work of because you want to bulk up on extra milk for a date night with hubby.
See you soon xoxo