Breastfeeding: Understand its importance and Check Tips for Breastfeeding
This text will help to demystify some topics on the subject and help you prepare!
When you search for any topic about breastfeeding or talk about it, you will certainly find phrases like “the period of breastfeeding is beautiful”, “it is very important to strengthen the bond between mother and child”, “I was very happy breastfeeding”. And they are all true, yes.
However, what nobody talks about breastfeeding is that it doesn’t happen magically and the tips you’ve received from friends or other mothers don’t always work for you and your baby.
“I always tell my patients that each mother and each baby is unique , and they write their own breastfeeding story”, comments Paloma Brandão *, specialist nurse in neonatology and master in breast milk at Fiocruz.
In this text, Paloma also gives us a lot of information, being realistic — which will help a lot in your preparation. Let’s go?
Is breastfeeding as important as people say?
It does—and a lot more, in fact. For you, as a mother, breastfeeding helps to contain postpartum bleeding , facilitates recovery, weight loss, not to mention decreasing the chances of developing breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.
For the baby, the benefits are also numerous, such as the lower chance of having allergies, softens the colic of the first months and calms your little one. Breastfeeding significantly lowers the infant mortality rate.
In addition, breast milk contains everything a child needs nutritionally for the first six months. Paloma compares breast milk to a meal with a starter, main course and dessert.
“All calories are important. Those from the beginning of milk quench thirst, as it is less greasy. The middle milk satisfies hunger, but does not make you gain weight. But the milk at the end of the feeding, which is more greasy, kills hunger and makes your child space more between one feeding and another”.
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How to prepare the breasts for the breastfeeding period?
During pregnancy, it is super important to prepare the breasts for breastfeeding. As the child will breastfeed every two hours, especially in the beginning, it is normal that they are not prepared, that is, you can feel pain and a lot of sensitivity, because it is already a sensitive region, which does not even get sun, right?
“It’s not scientifically proven, but getting some sun strengthens the nipple. This is because we left the region exposed to an experience that had never happened before, making it stronger”, comments Paloma.
Another point that the specialist points out is to avoid using very moisturizing soaps in the region, always giving preference to neutral ones, based on glycerin or even baby soap. “This contradicts what we’ve been saying our whole lives, which is that you need to hydrate your skin. In addition, it is essential not to use moisturizer on the areolas or nipples”.
Thus, the preparation of the breasts, in fact, is to leave them as natural as possible . And a tip that Paloma gives for the time of the sun is to cut an older shirt just in the area of the areola and nipples. Thus, only this area is exposed to the sun — face, arms and other regions take sunscreen at that time, agreed?
What are the main problems during breastfeeding?
It’s not because your child was born that, in a magic pass, you and him will be prepared for breastfeeding. This almost never happens. “It is essential to understand that each mother has a step to take and time to adapt. Just as each baby sucks in a different way and behaves at the breast in a unique way”, explains Paloma Brandão.
In this period of adaptation or even throughout the breastfeeding phase, some questions are very common. We explain what they are below.
Difficulty in gripping
As Paloma commented, the catch varies greatly between each child. However, the expert brings some tips that can make this moment simpler:
- the baby’s cup should be supported by a cushion or pillow. Bring him towards you – the little one needs to be facing your body and the little head must be aligned with the breast to be offered;
- he should be leaning upwards, with his nose in the air. This allows the chin to hit the base of the breast and thus has more strength and space to swallow. If the child lies on its face, it becomes suffocated and does not suck well.
- the baby is taken to the mother, never the other way around. When the mother latches on, she usually wants to go back, which is when the baby slips. Then she thinks she’s on the perfect hookup, but she’s not;
- you must always be seated, in an armchair, sofa or bed (taking care to leave your torso well aligned, without leaning);
- Tilt the nipple upwards at fitting time, towards the ceiling. “The baby has a sucking reflex on the roof of the mouth, so the more the nipple touches this region, the better for sucking, for the baby to calm down and breastfeeding to flow better.
You can tell if the latch is not correct when the child makes a lot of popping noises and has dimples. “The ideal thing is for the cheeks to be full and the maximum noise is deep breathing, as it is difficult for the baby to suck — he makes a lot of effort”, explains Paloma.
Sensitivity and even pain in the breasts can be common, especially when the handle is not correct. There are babies who bite with their gums, causing a lot of discomfort at this time. Therefore, it is interesting to do the natural preparation that we mentioned before, as well as to influence the baby to latch on correctly.
A cracked nipple is like a common injury in any other region of the body, recalls Paloma. “So, the drier the region is, the better, and the less stuff you put in, the better too.
As for the ointments, the secret is the amount — apply a very thin film, otherwise the skin will not breathe or heal. And after breastfeeding, wait for the breasts to dry naturally before putting on a bra. If you leave it wet, it gets worse with a risk of developing candidiasis”. Also, in the bath, use only water and neutral soap .
Milk quantity and quality
A very common mistake in the beginning is taking the milk through the pump and thinking that only that amount is your production. Paloma comments that there are some factors involved in greater milk production, such as:
- the baby’s cry, which ejects the milk out;
- skin-to-skin contact;
- the sucking of the little one;
- the mother’s look at the baby.
These are points related to milk production hormones, which are oxytocin and prolactin. “We say that 80% of breastfeeding depends on the mother’s mind . Of course, the more the little one sucks, the more it will produce and the more the mother stays calm, the more it will produce”.
And don’t doubt the quality: “There is no such thing as weak milk. Now, if a child wants the breast all the time, it could be a matter of just sucking”, says the specialist.
“One of the reasons for engorgement is because the milk has stood still for a long time, for example, when you skip a feeding because you had to go out, you slept too much, and the breast was full”, comments Paloma.
The secret is to solve the problem quickly, so you don’t have nodules and feel pain. “Just breastfeeding does not always solve the problem, sometimes you need a massage or a milking beforehand, so that the baby sucks more willingly”. When you don’t solve this, the excess milk stopped can turn into mastitis. But not all breast engorgement leads to mastitis, it depends on each body.
Is it worth wearing a nursing bra?
Yes it’s worth it. Even to sleep, you know? “It prevents breast engorgement and supports the breasts , improving milk production. If the breasts are loose, you can compress them and clog the duct”, says the specialist.
You just can’t sleep with the mammary shell, because it presses the boobs. If you want to use them, remember to sterilize them at each feeding, so you don’t have fungus proliferation, agreed?
It is still worth talking about the donation of breast milk to banks . Paloma says that you don’t need an overproduction to be able to donate. “Many banks ask for a minimum of 50ml, and there are mothers who remove this after the child is breastfed. For premature infants in neonatal ICUs, donation saves lives”, recalls the professional.
Did you like to know more about breastfeeding? So, how about sharing this text on your social networks and spreading this information that can help many mothers?