August Is Breastfeeding Awareness Month - Part I: Facts and Tips on Feeding Baby
August 6, 2014
Disclaimer: this is NOT a “you’re-a-bad-mom-if-you-don’t-breastfeed” article. This IS an article that supports feeding your baby/child, formula or breast milk, and it can be surprising to some moms on how much support they may truly need when it comes to breastfeeding.
As more and more studies are showing the benefits of breastfeeding, more and more moms are declining formula at birth and trying to breastfeed first. Breastfeeding helps create a physiological bond between mom and baby, and while it is natural, it doesn’t mean it is always easy.
Many moms and newborns need some time to get acquainted with breastfeeding, latching, and timing. Lactation consultants can be a huge help, along with patience and practice. Just to give you some perspective: a baby’s stomach is around the size of a cherry on day 1, a walnut on day 3, an apricot after 1 week, and an egg at around 1 month old. That is a significant amount of growth for the baby, which is why it is important to be patient with breastfeeding. Your body will change in milk production upon the baby’s needs and feeding times and frequencies.
Also, it is important that if you start feeding on the right side and baby does not want to go to the left side afterwards, start on the left side for the next feeding. A simple tip is to keep a hair tie on the wrist of the corresponding side that you finished breastfeeding on to help you remember. You have enough things to remember on your own.
Now for two “wow-my-body-is-awesome!” moments:
1) Your breast milk changes, without you even needing to do anything, all for the sake of your baby’s growth and development. At birth, your breast milk has colostrum to provide the necessary immunities to the baby and to protect his or her not yet fully-developed gut. For this reason, it can take around 3 to 7 days for your “let-down” to begin. At 6 weeks post-natal, breast milk has its highest concentration of antibodies. At 3 months, it is now full of calories to bulk up for upcoming growth milestones. At 6 months, breast milk is high in omega acids, essential for brain and nervous system development. At 12 months and beyond, it is high in calories, omega acids, and vitamins for continued immunity, brain and muscle development, with 94% of a child’s vitamin B12 requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, and 60% of vitamin C requirements. All that without any conscious efforts to change its composition!
2) Your baby’s saliva on your breast triggers a response in your body to create the necessary antibodies that your baby needs, and those new antibodies tailored specifically for your baby will be in your breast milk within one hour. This is one of the reasons why breast milk has so many health benefits for your baby and why the composition changes through baby’s growth.
Alternatives to Breastfeeding
Because everybody is different, some women have to stop exclusively breastfeeding for a variety of reasons. That is when pumping is suggested. Remember, baby’s saliva on your breast and then pumping will still have the benefits of those “specifically catered” antibodies.
If your baby tends to “only like one side”, pumping the other side is important, to continue milk production and prevent engorgement. If pumping does not produce enough milk to exclusively rely on and you cannot breastfeed, donor milk is a good option. There are milk banks in the area, where you can purchase or sometimes receive for free. Of course, there are also many formula options that you can mix in with these other suggestions as well, or do exclusive formula-feeding. If you are bottle-feeding your baby, be sure to still swap baby from one arm to the other to ensure even right-left brain development occurs.
As previously stated, your baby may prefer one side over the other, or not like to turn their head to one side. It is important to note this can also be indicative of an upper cervical or cranial Neuro-Spinal Shift that may have happened during the birthing process. Other indications of a baby having this Neuro-Spinal Shift can be difficulty maintaining a strong or proper latch, becoming agitated while trying to latch, and/or colic. It is important to rule out a Neuro-Spinal Shift, as well as a tongue-tie. Premier Chiropractic focuses on Neuro-Spinal Correction, and we love showing our support of breastfeeding by checking for these shifts in babies and helping both mom and baby enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding a bit more.
Next blog for the “August Is Breastfeeding Awareness Month” series: Improving/Increasing Your Milk Supply