Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Weaning Series: 7 Effortless Breastfeeding Tips for Beginners


How to Introduce Solids to Babies or How to Make a Transition from Breastfeed to Normal Food?


This topic is intriguing for new mums and the most answered question.


Therefore, I would like to share the step by step methods and recipes that I tried and have been continuing till date with my baby.


This is going to be a series of posts covering a gamut of information related to feeding babies.

So, lets begin with "7 Effortless Breastfeeding Tips for Beginners"

  1. Till 6 months, it should be clear to the mums and the relatives (who are trying to impose their age-old experience in childcare) that the baby should be fed only breastmilk. NO WATER. NO SUGAR WATER. NOTHING. Just because it was done by the previous generations, it doesn't always becomes the correct practice. Do not introduce water, boiled or otherwise, to your baby.  It is a common misconception that water is for hydration and to quench thirst. All the hydration and food will be taken cared by the milk itself. If you feel the baby looks dehydrated, (signs are chapped lips, flaky skin) feed more often than prescribed by doctor. Breastmilk is never harmful even if baby consumes more. The problem with water is that it will fill the tummy with no nutrients and baby will not be hungry for milk.
  2. Do not make the mistake of feeding the usual milk that adults consume for tea or coffee. There are specialised formula milks that somewhat (they are not complete replacements) nutritionally mimics mother's milk and so should be offered to baby if the mum has difficulty in producing milk of her own. Take proper precaution and follow correct dilution method before feeding. If milk powder is diluted in more water, baby will be left under nourished. And if the solution is thick with less water, baby stomach might get upset. Take proper care of the water being used as well. Secondly, for an under weight baby, often the doctor advises to feed the baby formula milk along with mother's milk because the composition of the store-bought milk is such that it has more fat content. However, ask if at all it is necessary? I chose to not feed my baby formula milk despite she not having the ideal birth weight and continued to belong to low weight category according to the World Health Organization Chart till 5 months. But since it was borderline low, both I and my doctor decided on breastmilk as the nutrition and immunity building capacity that breastmilk has, the store bought doesn't. Also, the added sugar in those milk powders can make baby crave for it more than breastmilk. But this point is debatable and in my experience it is not always the case. Babies if love something, will not hate it even if offered something else. My girl has begun to take formula milk, fruit juices, solid food, etc. but when I feed breastmilk she feeds on it the best.
  3. Till 1 month the timing ideally should be to feed baby no late than 3 hours from the last feed. Mums should either keep a diary or use mobile apps that give alarms on feeding the baby. Babies of this age sleep for 18-20 hours a day and it is difficult to feed them in those specific intervals. But the baby has to be woken up. There is no option. They do not take feed in sleep. "Dream Feed" was possible for me when my baby was almost 5 months. Even now I do not have to wake her for breastfeed. She would suck in sleep and not get disturbed. But at a young age, babies are so deep in sleep that making them uncomfortable is the only trick I found useful. I would remove the blankets, cradle her and walk into the well-light rooms, talk to her, stroke her face and legs, tickle her feet, rub behind the ears, and so on just to get some consciousness from the baby and immediately feed her. The duration, however, varies. So from 5 minutes to 15 or 20 minutes, your baby can take feed for any amount of time.
  4. After 1 month, the baby begins to stay awake for longer and demands more feed. So I gave feed in every 2 hours and sometimes more early, depending upon how hot the climate is. 3 months onwards, I would feed every hour or half hour. Even a 2 minute quick feed was enough to wet her dry throat.
  5. I have never used breast pumps and stored milk. Only because I did not have the urgency to leave the baby and home, and not be available to feed. While, some claim to reap benefits from using breast pumps, I can say that by not using them, I have been free from all the hassles of sterilizing the bottles and equipments after every feed, drying and storing them in a hygienic place, going through the somewhat painful process of extracting milk, making sure the refrigerator temperature is appropriate, making sure the milk hasn't got stale before feed, heating the milk before feed, cooling it for baby, etc. I have also been relieved from carrying bottles and pumps to any local outings or trips and holidays. Nowadays malls have feeding rooms, and I have used them effortlessly. My girl fed on absolutely fresh milk, that was in the right temperature and untouched (because milk did not touch extracting pipes and bottle).
  6. I treated myself as carrier of milk. I took special care in terms of hygiene. I bathed 2-3 times a day (it was summer), prepared a jar of sterilized cotton balls soaked in boiled water to clean the area before feed, and wiped myself after finishing every feed to remove traces of milk and baby saliva.
  7. Sore nipples are a common problem for new mums. Dry and painful nipples are due to the multiple feeds that a baby takes throughout the day and in each session atleast 30-40 times the skin is stretched. To combat this, the market is filled with nipple creams (commercial, medicated, organic). However, each product is labeled with a tag "for external use", meaning it is not for consumption. Often people do not understand it in the wider sense. Once applied, the mum will not have time to wash herself before feeding a crying hungry baby, and the baby will consume that chemical cosmetic. Therefore, spare the baby from your mistake and apply simple Ghee or butter (homemade) which even if consumed is harmless. Oil is the base of all creams and is more potent in providing hydration and elasticity than any market creams, so use the real stuff. Empty a small container and store the ghee/butter in it and keep it solely for this purpose and apply it after each feed.
Click to read the next in the series - Weaning Begins After 5 Months.
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