Breastfeeding is a purely personal decision, but there can be no doubt that it remains to be the best choice for babies, given its numerous and irrefutable benefits for both mother and child. As an advocate of breastfeeding, Pigeon PH provides a range of safe and effective products that will make a mother’s breastfeeding journey a sweet and memorable one. Their selections of breastfeeding bottles and breast pumps are designed specifically to facilitate the baby’s natural sucking motion and establish proper latch, as well as help mothers express milk in the most convenient way possible. Additionally, Pigeon offers lanolin-based nipple ointments and breast shields to prevent sore nipples and other common problems that mothers encounter while nursing.
Importance of Breastfeeding
Known as nature’s superfood, breast milk contains the perfect amount of nutrients and vitamins essential for the baby’s growth and development. It is also packed with antibodies that boost the immunity system and protect the baby from illnesses. Its unique quality and ability to change its composition according to the needs of the baby, cannot be replicated by the best infant formula.
Babies who are exclusively breastfed, specifically during the first six months of life, have reduced risks of viruses, ear infections, inflammatory bowel diseases, and respiratory and urinary tract illnesses, and optimal emotional and mental cognitive development.
Aside from the wealth of health benefits it gives to babies, breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother. Healthwise, it is found to lower risks of diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular conditions. Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of a hormone called oxytocin, which increases relaxation, prevents postpartum bleeding and helps regain pre-pregnancy weight.
Most importantly, breastfeeding builds and strengthens the emotional bond between the mother and child.
The ABCs of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may be a natural thing, but for many moms, especially first-timers, it does not come naturally. However, with lots of patience and effort, breastfeeding will soon become an enjoyable and comfortable experience for both mom and baby. Following these ABCs can help facilitate a smoother nursing process:
Awareness. For the first few weeks, breastfeeding is done very frequently and on demand, with the newborn feeding 10 to 12 times per day. This means that mothers should actively look out for clues that the baby is hungry, and not wait for the baby to cry, which is a late hunger cue. Signs to watch out for include suckling noises and mouth movements, sucking on hands or fists, and restlessness. Similarly, mothers should also be aware when the baby is full to prevent overfeeding.
Be patient. Breastfeeding is a process that takes a lot of time and patience, with each session lasting an average of 10 to 20 minutes per breast. It is advisable for mothers to ensure they are always available when their babies want to nurse.
Comfort. To ensure an optimal breastfeeding experience for both mom and baby, it is important for both to be in a comfortable nursing position. Being in a relaxed state is also found to better stimulate the mother’s let-down reflex to eject more milk.
Common Challenges with Breastfeeding
Most first-time moms encounter difficulties when breastfeeding their child mainly because the experience is new to them. Below are some of the most common challenges that women face when nursing, and how to overcome them:
- Poor latch – This refers to the inability for the baby to attach his or her mouth to the breast properly while nursing. A poor latch can result in the baby not getting enough milk, and sore nipples and general discomfort for the mother. The solution to a poor latch is to gently remove the baby from the breast, and try to latch him or her again. This involves ensuring that the baby’s mouth is opened wide to accommodate both the nipple and areola. If a poor latch remains a constant problem, or if nursing painful, the assistance of a doctor, nurse or lactation consultant is advised.
- Sore nipples – Often a result of a poor latch, sore nipples are characterized by cracks, redness and tenderness in the nipples. Aside from correcting the baby’s latch, sore nipples can be treated by varying nursing positions, wearing comfortable bras, and using nipple shields and lanolin-based nipple ointments.
- Breast engorgement – If the milk is not being regularly expressed, the breasts may become engorged, accompanied by redness, firmness and pain. Besides breastfeeding often, hand-expressing milk and massaging the breasts, taking hot showers before nursing and applying cold compresses after can reduce swelling and ease discomfort.
- Plugged milk ducts – The milk ducts, which is responsible for delivering milk to the nipple, may become clogged due to a number of factors such as poor latch, irregularly expressing milk and stress. This causes small lumps, and breast soreness and tenderness. Untreated, it can result in mastitis or inflammation of the breast. Similar to breast engorgement, clogged milk ducts can be treated with hot and cold compresses, rest, massages and drinking plenty of fluids. If there is fever, seek immediate medical attention.
- Mastitis – This result from plugged milk ducts that have not been treated. Described as an inflammation of the breast, mastitis may be accompanied with infections. Immediate medical care is advised at the onset of its symptoms, which include pain and fever. At-home remedies such as regular breastfeeding, rest and compression packs can help reduce discomforts.