How to achieve Exclusive Breastfeeding
Exclusive breastfeeding is the feeding of a newborn baby on breast milk only for the first six months of their lives. Not even water is allowed.
According to World Health Organization’s findings of 2009, exclusively breastfeeding babies for six months helps them to achieve an optimal growth and development as well grow to be healthy. Complimentary feeding should start after 6 months (180 days) while breastfeeding should still continue up to the age of 2 years.
Every mother should be able to breastfeed their baby unless you are HIV positive, have an active infection of TB, receiving cancer treatment, if you are a drug addict or if your baby has galactose which is intolerant to any natural sugars. Some prescribed medications will also not allow you to breastfeed your baby as they can be passed to the baby through breast milk.
The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the baby include
- Building up the baby’s immune system as breast milk contain antibodies that help their bodies to fight diseases
- Breast milk is easily digested as compared to formula and other types of milk, hence no chance of digestive problems
- Breast milk is linked to lowering your baby’s risk to asthma and allergies
- Babies who are breastfed exclusively have fewer cases of ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses
- Breastfeeding offers a superb bonding time with your baby as you establish skin-skin contact, touch and maintain eye contact making them feel loved and safe.
- Breast milk contains all the nutrients that your baby needs and in the perfect ratios, therefore, your baby has very low chances of getting obese rather they grow healthy.
- Some studies have linked breastfeeding with high IQ in later childhood
- To the mother, breastfeeding helps burn the extra calories thus losing baby fat is faster.
- The release of the Oxytocin from breastfeeding helps your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and also helps in reducing uterine bleeding after birth
- For a mother, breastfeeding is so much flexible as there is no hustle of preparing milk, utensils and all packing of food and milk when you want to leave the house.
- It gives you a chance to bond with your baby.
Some of the common breastfeeding challenges
Breastfeeding does not come naturally for most mothers. The first days of breastfeeding can be so frustrating. Dealing with fatigue, engorged breast, and cracked nipple is no joke even for experienced mothers.
Some of the challenges most mothers face include low breast milk supply, not knowing how to latch correctly, leading to cracked nipple and breast infection(mastitis), fatigue, not having a good support system, dealing with healing pains, blocked milk ducts, inverted nipples, stress and anxiety.
All these are things you can deal with if you have a lactation consultant and good support systems. However, you should notify your doctor if you notice that your baby is not feeding at all or as is recommended which is at least 6 times a day, if your breasts are unusually red, swollen and red or if you notice any bloody discharge or pus from your breasts.
How to breastfeed correctly
Sit comfortably and relax your shoulders, put a pillow on your back to support your back, use a nursing pillow to prop the baby if they can’t reach your breast comfortably. The baby should reach the breast and not you reaching the breast to the baby. Hold your baby close, your tummy should touch her tummy, her nose to touch your nipple and chin should touch your breast.
Support your baby’s neck and head with your inner arm otherwise if they are uncomfortable they will push away from the breast. Tilt her head slightly backward and ensure the baby’s ear, shoulder and hip are aligned to make swallowing easier.
Hold the breast in a “C” or a “U” position using your four fingers at the bottom and thump finger at the top. Keep the fingers away from the fingers. The nipple should aim the baby’s upper lips and not the middle of the mouth. To get your baby to open up her mouth, rub the nipple across her lips. Try to get as much of the areola in her mouth.
Correct latching will help you not to get cracked and sore nipples and make you enjoy breastfeeding. As the baby also learns to breastfeed it gets easier.
You will know that your baby has latched well and breastfeeding when her tongue can be seen when her bottom lip is pulled down. When you can see a circular movement of the jaw as opposed to a chin movement. You will also not hear the clicking and smacking sounds and her cheeks will be rounded.
Your baby will be satisfied when she falls off your breast, opens her hands and/or falls fast asleep.
Breastfeeding position is a matter of comfort for you and your baby, you can choose several so long as they all work for you and your baby. Some of the most comfortable positions include:
The cradle hold. This is the most common position. This position requires you to cradle the baby’s head with your arm’s crook. Put your baby on your lap or on top of your nursing pillow, with her lying on you put her hand under your arm as if going to the back then her face, tummy and knees should directly face you. With the same procedure, you can nurse her on either breast.
The Reclining position. With this position, you nurse your body lying on your side with pillows behind your back, under your head and shoulders and between your bent knees for support. This is an ideal position when you are still recovering from a caesarian birth or night nursing.
The cross-over hold. This is similar to the cradle hold except that your supporting arms switch positions. If you are nursing on your left breast you use your right hand to hold the baby and vice versa. This position is ideal for preemies and small babies who have a hard time with latching.
The clutch. Also known as the football hold. In this position, the baby is tucked under your arm on the same side that you are nursing the baby from. This position is ideal for breastfeeding twins and mothers with either flat or large breasts.
With these, you should be able to have a less frustrating breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding may seem like a natural process but it actually requires a lot of knowledge, support and patience.