Breastfeeding can be hard work for mothers and babies but it’s important to stick to it so you can both enjoy its numerous benefits.
Breastmilk contains all the nutrients the baby needs for optimal growth and development for the first 6 months of life. It has more sugar lactose than animal milk, which helps fight disease and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the stomach. Lactose improves the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Breastmilk is easily digested so your baby’s organs won’t have to work overtime for proper digestion. It protects babies against infections and reduces the risk of developing problems like obesity and diabetes later in life.
One of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding is that it strengthens babies’ immune systems. During nursing the mother passes antibodies to the baby, which helps fight diseases and improve the normal immune response to certain vaccines. It also helps reduce the risk of allergic reactions and asthma.
When breastfeeding, it is important to ensure that you have adequate milk supply to satisfy your baby’s needs and keep them healthy. Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to provide needed vitamins and minerals, avoid alcoholic drinks, and do not smoke or use any illegal drugs because this can affect your baby’s health. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water daily.
Artificially fed babies may develop intolerance to protein from animal milk, resulting in diarrhea, abdominal pain or rashes. They may also become lactose intolerant. This is why mothers are encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of their babies’ lives. This means the baby should not be given any water, formula, juice or food and should only be given breast milk for the first 6 months. Once baby is 6 months, it’s time to start adding complementary foods and continue breastfeeding for at least 2 years, a process called “Complementary Feeding.”
Frequently asked breastfeeding questions:
FAQ #1: When will my milk supply increase and how do I know there’s enough to satisfy my baby?
Milk production begins in the second trimester of pregnancy (4-6 months). At this stage of pregnancy, your body starts making colostrum, which is a clear liquid that’s full of essential nutrients for newborn. If you are a first-time mom, your breastmilk will increase about 2 to 5 days after you give birth. Until then, the colostrum you produce is enough to satisfy your baby and provides all the nutrition and antibodies needed to fight infections at this stage. Remember that a newborn’s stomach is very tiny, so it doesn’t take a lot keep them full.
FAQ #2: How long should I nurse my baby at each feeding?
You are encouraged to breastfeed your baby on demand, meaning whenever he or she is hungry. There is no set time limit for breastfeeding, just be sure to switch baby from one breast to the other at each feed. How long baby sucks depends on appetite and other factors. Once your baby is actively sucking, don’t stop him. He will let you know when he has had enough.
FAQ #3: Is my baby feeding enough? Should I feed formula in addition to breast milk during the first 6 months to ensure my baby isn’t starving?
The best way to know if your baby’s overall nutrition is good is by paying attention to how often they wet diapers and pass stool. From birth to about 6 weeks, your baby should have 6-8 wet diapers and pass stool at least twice each day. If you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting enough nutrition, talk to your pediatrician or nutritionist.
Breastfeeding is a mother’s most natural instinct to nurture and nourish her baby and it provides lifelong health benefits. Let’s support our mothers and encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. Our children’s health depends on it!
Grenada Food and Nutrition Council