Breastfeeding: what you need to know
Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey, and no wonder like every other journey, it has its ups and downs. The World Health Organization, doctors, nutritional experts, and healthcare professionals recommend exclusive breastfeeding for an infant from birth to the age of six months, and later breastfeeding supplemented with regular healthy and nutritious solid food till the age of two. Most doctors recommend breastfeeding as long as the mother and child feel the need to.
Now breastfeeding is not easy. There are several things one needs to know. Your healthcare professional is the best person to guide you in this journey, and now you may also get the help of lactation consultants. Here are a few things you need to remember about breastfeeding:
- You may not start producing milk immediately after delivering your baby. Sometimes it takes time, patience, and a lot of effort.
- The sooner you feed the baby post-delivery, the better it is for the baby and the process of breastfeeding to begin.
- Engorgement is common in the first few days of breastfeeding. The only solution to this is to feed the baby every two hours. This is important to avoid clogged ducts or mastitis.
- During pregnancy you do not have to eat for two people. You just have to follow a balanced diet. But while breastfeeding, you need to eat more, and of course nutritious food. Also, remember to keep yourself hydrated with at least 3 liters of water.
- Breastfeeding does not mean your baby gets the same taste of food that you eat in your breastmilk. However, doctors recommend not to eat too spicy food a few days after delivery because your body is recovering around this time.
- The whole process of breastfeeding is You may need help for the baby to latch properly. You may need help to manage the other chores at home since the first six months requires a mother to feed every two hours, and extended breastfeeding also takes effort. So, always ask for help.
- Rest does not come easy for a new mother. Also, it is not always practical to sleep when your baby sleeps. The first three months require a baby to adjust to life outside the womb, which implies that the baby is unaware of the concept of night and day. So, ensure that you catch on some sleep whenever you can.
- It is perfectly alright to breastfeed in public. Your baby needs to be fed, and there is no shame associated with breastfeeding.
- Extended breastfeeding is perfectly normal. You can breastfeed as long as your baby you are comfortable with it. It is completely your call as to how long you wish to breastfeed. Whenever you wish to wean, try weaning one feed at a time, and eventually completely weaning off, so that it is comfortable for you as well as the baby.
- Whether you choose to exclusively breastfeed, pump and feed, formula feed, or a combination of any of these, it is completely your decision, of course following the doctor's advice. What alone matters is that your baby is healthy, happy, and playful!
Personally, I breastfed my little one for two and a half years. It was not easy. I had some very difficult days, but the benefits were so good that I could overlook the difficulties! It was a lovely journey!
Anindita Ganguly has a doctorate in English Literature. Her research area is Women's theatre. She has worked as a writer and editor in several publishing houses over the last decade. A voracious reader who loves doodling and is passionate about music, gardening, and movies.