As many of us know, breast milk helps with a newborn baby’s immune system, nutritional needs, and even brain development. With that said, many Moms suffer anxiety when it comes to breastfeeding and often has various questions that need answering. We also understand that many questions surround the topic of breastfeeding. Paediatrician, Dr Moore answers some of your most frequently asked breastfeeding questions here:
What Milestones Should My Breastfed Baby Be Meeting?
After birth, your newborn will spend a lot of time sleeping. Initially, their eyes will be fuzzy, and they won’t focus precisely. They may tremble and jerk easily and startle to sudden noises.
Babies will develop at different paces, but by 6 weeks, the head and neck control will be stronger, and they should be fixing and following your face or a bright object.
You may even notice a smile at this stage. By 3 months they will have some head control and will have a strong kick. A short while later (by 4-6months) they will be able to sit with your support, and by 6 months they may even be standing with support.
Between 3 -6 months, they will reach for an object and may try bringing it to their mouth. They should be turning to sound by 3 months, and by 6 months they will be bubbling and cooing away.
What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For My Baby And Me?
Breastmilk has been described as a “living nutritional fluid”. Besides being free of cost, always available and always at the right temperature; breastmilk and breastfeeding have numerous benefits for both you and your baby. Breastmilk contains cells, antibodies (which help protect against infections), enzymes and growth factors. For your baby these have many protective effects including protection from diarrhoea and chest infections, and has positive long term effects on growth and cognitive development – breastfed babies tend to have a lower risk of obesity and some allergic diseases later in life.
As a nursing mother breastfeeding has a contraceptive effect (if done exclusively and frequently), and reduces your risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis later in life.
These benefits are in addition to the wonderful bonding that breastfeeding encourages between you and your baby.
When Do You Recommend Solid Foods Be Introduced?
Ideally, one should exclusively breastfeed breastfed babies until the age of 6 months when so-called “complementary” foods such as cereals and pureed vegetables can be added to feeds. You could consider if your baby is ready for solids if they are 4-6 months of age (not younger), have doubled their birth weight and are feeding very frequently in the day and still seem too hungry. Over the next few months, you can gradually increase the frequency and complexity of solid foods.
What Age Do You Recommend Weaning?
Ideally breastfeeding should continue to 12 months and beyond – there is no set time when you should stop breastfeeding your baby. Some might prefer to wean their baby off the breast onto cow’s milk (for example) by the second year of life as toddlers can be difficult to wean from the breast in the second year of life. Allow your baby to indicate when he/she is ready to give up breastfeeding.
How Can I Get A Good Latch?
Your baby needs to get a good latch onto your breast, or you could get sore nipples and baby may not feed adequately. Ensure you are well hydrated, seated, relaxed and as comfortable as possible – you may need cushions behind your back, or under your elbows, so you do not feel strained.
Hold your baby level with his/her whole body facing your breast with the lower arm around your waist. When your babies lips touch your nipple, his/her mouth will open, and you should then put as much of the areola (the brown part around the nipple) in the mouth so that the bottom lip folds outwards. Your baby’s tongue should be folded around the breast, sucking it against the roof of the mouth- If your baby is latching well, they will suck strongly with strong swallowing action. You may feel awkward initially, but it’s important to remember that most mothers feel like this initially – breastfeeding is a skill learnt with practice.