Breastfeeding Basics

February 18, 2008

Mother’s milk is best for baby! The composition is perfect for baby’s developmental needs. It is also the most convenient “fast food” we can think of: always at hand without having to warm it up or sterilize unnecessary feeding equipment and it is also the cheapest kind of food. No wonder the World Health Organisation promotes breastfeeding with the slogan “Breast is Best”. It is recommended to breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months to give baby the best start in life. This will greatly reduce the risk of SIDS, help reduce the risk of allergies in later life, support baby’s physical maturation and it will help develop a strong immune system.

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How to get started

Whether you decide to give birth in hospital or at home, your midwife is trained to help you get started with confidence. Right after baby’s arrival he is put to the breast. This is important because baby’s sucking reflex is strongest in the first hour after delivery. Baby starts to suck on the nipple automatically because this is an inborn reflex. When looking at earlier ultrasound scans you may even be able to see your baby sucking his thumb. This shows you how early this reflex naturally develops! As soon as baby starts to suck at the breast, the hormone oxytocin is released which is responsible for the milk flow.

During the first days after baby’s birth, mother’s milk is yellowish and has a unique composition: it is very high in protein, vitamins, minerals and has less fat. So-called colostrum is particularly good for baby’s underdeveloped gestational system. Colostrum is also very high in antibodies which help keep baby’s immune system prepared to cope with the outside world.

After a few days, mother’s milk changes to eventually increase the caloric intake of the baby with a higher proportion of carbohydrates and fat. This change in composition is essential for baby’s growth.

For more valuable breastfeeding tips visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/The-Miracle-of-Breastfeeding/

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