Exclusive Breastfeeding - What You Need to Know
What is Exclusive Breast Feeding?
Exclusive breastfeeding involves feeding your baby with breast milk alone, without any additional food, drinks, or water, until they reach the age of six months. Beyond six months, you should continue to breastfeed your baby alongside introducing complementary foods until the age of two or older.
What is Kangaroo Mother Care
Kangaroo Mother Care is a recommended technique where you hold your baby against your bare skin, allowing for skin-to-skin contact. This method is particularly helpful for preterm or low birth weight babies and fosters a strong emotional bond between mother and child.
Why is Exclusive Breastfeeding Recommended?
Exclusive breastfeeding is highly recommended for several significant reasons:
Breast milk provides the best possible nutrition for your baby, promoting optimal mental, emotional, and physical development. Breast milk is tailor-made for your baby at every stage of development, offering a perfect blend of nutrients and antibodies that protect against illness and promote overall growth.
Postpartum Benefits for Moms
- For mothers, exclusive breastfeeding facilitates postpartum weight loss and reduces the risk of postpartum depression. The bond formed during breastfeeding releases feel-good hormones, fostering emotional well-being.
- Breastfeeding has notable effects on a mother's uterus after giving birth. It triggers the release of oxytocin, which, in turn, causes uterine contractions. These contractions play a vital role in the process of uterine involution, helping the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and shape. Breastfeeding's impact on the uterus also results in a reduction in postpartum bleeding. These contractions can sometimes be uncomfortable, but they are a natural and important part of the postpartum recovery process.
- Breastfeeding can act as a form of family planning by delaying the return of your period and fertility. Learn more about lactation amenorrhea.
- For mothers, exclusive breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
- Exclusive breastfeeding eliminates the need to purchase expensive supplements or bottles, saving you money and reducing environmental waste.
The Tushbaby Hip Carrier
With its ergonomic design and comfortable waistband, Tushbaby provides optimal support for you and your baby. Say goodbye to shoulder and back pain from traditional carriers, as Tushbaby evenly distributes your baby's weight, relieving strain and promoting better posture.
Making Exclusive Breastfeeding Possible
To achieve exclusive breastfeeding, consider the following tips:
Breastfeeding within the first hour is best. A baby's instinct to latch and feed is often strongest in the first hour, making it easier to establish a good latch. Also, early suckling helps stimulate the mother's milk production.
Breast milk is a complete source of nutrition for infants. Giving supplements or water can interfere with the establishment of breastfeeding and the baby's ability to regulate their intake. Water, in particular, can be harmful as it fills the baby's tiny stomach without providing necessary nutrients.
Respond to your baby's hunger cues and breastfeed on demand.
On-demand feeding means allowing your baby to dictate when they want to eat. This approach helps establish a responsive feeding pattern, promoting a strong milk supply and ensuring the baby gets enough nourishment. Crying is a late hunger cue, so it's essential to recognize and respond to earlier signs of hunger, like rooting or sucking on hands.
Breastfeed your baby at night too. Co-sleeping can make nighttime feedings more convenient.
Babies often need to feed at night, as breast milk is more easily digested, and their stomachs are small. Co-sleeping under safe conditions can make nighttime feedings more convenient and less disruptive to both the baby and the mother. It also fosters bonding and helps the baby feel secure.
Avoid Artificial Nipples
Nipple confusion occurs when a baby struggles to switch between breastfeeding and artificial nipples (e.g., pacifiers or bottles). To prevent this confusion, it's advisable to minimize the use of artificial nipples in the early weeks of breastfeeding. It's usually best to introduce bottles or pacifiers once breastfeeding is well-established.
Knowledge is a powerful tool in the breastfeeding journey. By educating yourself about potential challenges, you can better prepare for and address them. Joining a breastfeeding support group can provide invaluable advice, encouragement, and a sense of community from others who have gone through similar experiences. Alternatively, take one of our recommended breastfeeding courses.
Communicating your intention to exclusively breastfeed with your healthcare team during your hospital stay is essential. This ensures that your medical providers are aware of your goals and can offer guidance, assistance, and support as needed. They can also assist with any challenges that may arise during the initial stages of breastfeeding.
If you're returning to work, you can still exclusively breastfeed by pumping during the day and breastfeeding at night.
Many working mothers successfully maintain exclusive breastfeeding by using a breast pump during working hours. This allows you to provide breast milk for your baby while you're away. Pumping regularly helps maintain your milk supply, and breastfeeding at night and during non-working hours ensures continued bonding and nourishment.
Exclusive breastfeeding is a remarkable gift you can give to your baby. It ensures the best possible start in life, promotes a strong bond between mother and child, and offers numerous health benefits for both.