By Joy Fang
While breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it can be tough for a beginner. We share some things to make this process a little easier
Breast milk is a pretty amazing thing. Not only is this natural creation free, it is precious liquid gold to your little bub because of its miraculous composition. The mummy benefits too – the suckling action also helps your womb contract faster, and you get to shed weight because breastfeeding burns calories.
Here’s what else you need to know about breast milk.
It’s filled With Nutrient-Packed Goodness
Breast milk harbours all the vitamins and minerals your baby needs to grow and develop into a healthy little human. It also contains antioxidants and antibodies that help boost your baby’s immunity and lower the risk of infections.
Miraculously, the mother’s body actually produces breast milk that is specifically tailored to her baby. From the amount of milk your baby needs, to the amount and type of antibodies as well as the milk fat content – when you latch your baby, he or she signals to your body just what is required.
How Much Does Your Baby Need?
In the beginning, your newborn only requires a very small amount of milk because his or her stomach is the size of a teaspoon. Your body will produce a thick yellowish liquid called colostrum, which rich in antibodies, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.
By Day Four, you should start expressing transitional milk before moving onto normal white-ish “mature” breast milk by Day 8 to 10. This mature milk contains foremilk – watery milk that is released in the beginning – and hindmilk – milk released towards the end of a feeding that has higher fat content.
Needless to say, hindmilk is more filling, so make sure your baby drinks as much as possible from one side of your breast before moving onto the other.
Ways To Increase Your Supply
Many breastfeeding mums worry they don’t have enough to feed their babies. If you have low supply, there are some ways you can try to bring that up. First, keep yourself hydrated and make sure your intake of fluids is at least two litres a day.
Eat well and rest as much as possible – stress and fatigue can make your supply dip. Make sure you nurse frequently to signal the body to produce more milk.
You can also try milk supply boosting foods such as oatmeal, fenugreek, fennel, dates and green papaya, or get your hands on lactation cookies and lactation teas, which contain boosting ingredients and are yummy to boot.
Another tip? Power pump. This session replaces one regular session and mimics the feeding of a baby during a growth spurt. To do so, double pump for 20 minutes and rest 10 minutes, then pump 10 minutes and rest 10 minutes again, before pumping a final 10 minutes. Try this once a day until you see results.
If these still don’t work, make an appointment with a lactation consultant to see if baby is latching correctly.
If you have some excess milk, you can store them in breast milk storage bags (essentially tiny ziplock bags with markings and double zips) or breast milk storage containers.
Place freshly pumped milk into the normal fridge compartment – it can stay there for three to five days (longer if in the coldest part of your fridge).
Or if you want to store some of them for the long term, place them in the freezer compartment (make sure you label the dates and amounts!) – they can be kept for three months (longer in a deep freezer).
If you’re pumping outdoors, make sure you bring along storage containers, a cooler bag and ice packs with you to ensure the breast milk doesn’t spoil.