Breastfeeding is a way of expressing love, attention, care, comfort, creating intimacy and the basis for the physical and mental development of a child. On the other hand is a learning process in which the child needs to learn to eat from the mother’s breast. This process takes time, peace, patience and love. Every child is unique and has its own temperament which is reflected in breastfeeding.
Breast milk is a living fluid that contains all the nutrients needed for growth and development of the child and it changes every day, as the child grows. The best choice for your child is just your milk.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (without the addition of water, tea or milk replacer) the first 6 months and breastfeeding with complementary foods up to 2 years of age, and longer, if they want. Often mothers stop breastfeeding because of ignorance, stress, fatigue, lack of family support, and because of the difficulties in the process of breast feeding.
Most common reasons why mothers give up breastfeeding:
They think that there is not enough milk
This is the most common myth, which is also the main reason why moms give up breastfeeding. It is actually physiologically impossible. Mothers usually give up breastfeeding because they are convinced that they do not have enough milk for the baby. Basically this is a lack of confidence in mothers, which is a common obstacle to successful breastfeeding. Breastfeeding takes place according to the principle of supply and demand. If the mother often puts the child to the breast, the breast will produce more milk. Also, the fullness of the breast is not an indicator of the quantity of breast milk that the child received during feedings. When you create a balance between supply and demand of breast milk, breasts become softer, and it is certainly not a sign that you have less milk.
Little amount of expressed breast milk
The amount of expressed milk is absolutely no indication of the amount of milk in the breast. A mother can’t express the quantity of milk that baby breastfeeds. Most mothers have enough milk. If the child is not getting enough milk, it is because of bad position of the child at the breast. This can be successfully corrected in a very short time.
Waking up at night
One of the myths associated with breastfeeding is that children are waking up at night just for breastfeeding. Night awakenings are common in many children. Dr. William Sears claims that children are not programmed to sleep throughout the night, but sleep for short periods which are interrupted by frequent breastfeeding. In the first months of life, frequent breastfeeding contributes to better weight gain, and the child’s needs during the night are not less than the daily requirement. If the child is sleeping through the night is not an indication that it had consumed enough breast milk.
There is no prescribed duration of feedings or provided time between feedings. Duration and frequency of feeding are individual for each baby. The recommendation is to breastfeed on demand because breastfeeding for baby presents comfort, encouragement, connection, intimacy, safety and security. Allow your baby to determine their feeding schedule.
Stress and breastfeeding
It is a common myth that tells that the mother due to stress can lose breast milk. Oxytocin is a hormone that stimulates the secretion of milk and it is very sensitive to stress and the mother may think that there is no milk, but it actually has a problem with reflex of milk ejection. Also, prolactin, a hormone that stimulates milk production, has increased production when the mother is in a state of stress. In this way nature keeps breastfeeding because of its important evolutionary role.
Nutrition during breastfeeding
Breastfeeding mothers sometimes receive instructions that have to watch what they eat and avoid certain foods. There are very rare situations when children’s ailments such as colic, gas or the child’s discomfort are associated with the food that mother eats. A balanced and healthy diet during breastfeeding is important for the health of the mothers. Breastfeeding mothers should eat varied; meals should be regular, moderate and planned. Energy requirements of breastfeeding mother are increased compared to the normal intake related to age, weight, height and activity of women who do not breastfeed. Food choices should be based on proper nutrition pyramid: The largest amount is of carbs (unprocessed whole grains, fruits and vegetables), small amount of protein (dairy products, meat, legumes) and a small amount of fat (vegetable oils).
Mothers of twins are often informed that breastfeeding is too difficult. Many mothers have successfully breastfed twins and even triplets. They agree that it is very hard, but not impossible. The fact is, that with twins is more difficult because mother needs more time and effort to meet the needs of both children.
Blocked milk duct
If the mother tries to control breastfeeding, if not apply breastfeeding on demand (breast is not emptied enough) or if the child does not have the correct position on the breast, milk may exceed the capacity of milk ducts. The breasts are hard, painful, red and hot, under the fingers you can feel lumps, and the mother is usually unwell. This condition is treated by draining the breasts, best by breastfeeding. It is recommended immediately before feeding to apply warm compresses or shower in warm water to encourage milk reflex. If it comes to mastitis (inflammation of the breast with a high temperature) whose symptoms last longer than 24 hours, you should consult a doctor.
Always have on mind that breastfeeding is a skill that is learned. Breastfeeding is the way to develop a special relationship of intimacy of you and your child. Learn and apply what best suits you and your child within your family rhythm and family situation. Be realistic with yourself: childbirth, parenting and feeding are a great novelty and challenges in your life, so take time to adjust. Allow your partner to help you with the child from the first day. It is important that the mother has enough emotional support, as well as support of the environment.