Benefits of breast milk
- The composition of breast milk changes with the baby’s age, so that they get the exact range of nutrients they require.
- Breast milk is perfectly suited to baby’s fragile system and still-immature digestion.
- Your milk gives them antibodies which they need to strengthen their immune system.
A very special bond
- When you breastfeed your baby, there is complete skin-to-skin contact. Baby finds their bearings through touch and smell: your contact and your scent are reassuring to them. Mutual trust is established.
- The first attempts are decisive: trust your baby. They instinctively know how to feed and their sucking reflex is at its strongest during their first few hours. It is best to begin immediately after birth to promote milk flow. However, if it is too early for you, you can try again in the calm of your own room.
- Find the right position. Initially, the nipples may be a little sensitive until they become accustomed to it. The feeling is unusual and surprising at first. If you feel pain during the first few seconds of breastfeeding, try to place your finger in their mouth to correct their position. Ask the midwife for help getting baby to latch onto the nipple without hurting you.
- Make yourself comfortable in a peaceful, well ventilated location that is not too warm. Baby should not be distracted by surrounding activity. Do not hold them, use pillows to prop them up. They should be resting against you or on the bed, heading facing the breast, leaning slightly back to swallow more easily.
- Feed them when they want you to, without worrying about the number of feeds or their duration, especially during the first few days. They will find their pattern and will feed on average 8 to 12 times per day. The duration may vary from 10 minutes for those who gulp it down to three-quarters of an hour for the slowest.
Baby will feed according to the variations in their appetite, and your breasts will produce milk according to baby’s needs. Leave them on the breast as long as they are sucking effectively.
- You can use a breast-pump if you are unavailable during the day. But bear in mind that your milk will not keep for more than 48 hours in the fridge at a maximum temperature of 4°C. If you freeze it for a longer period, do not defrost it in the microwave, as this will damage the anti-infection agents in your milk.
Diet and breastfeeding
Eat a balanced diet, keeping in mind that your needs are a little higher than normal but lower than during pregnancy. You may, for example, continue the habit of having a snack.
It is not recommended to try to lose the few extra kilos gained in your pregnancy during this period. You will run the risk of depriving your child of certain nutrients.
Alcohol and tobacco, as well as soya and soya-based products, which contain phytoestrogens. These compounds act in the same was as oestrogens and are thought to affect hormonal balance.
Foods with a strong smell, which will tend to flavour your milk. Some babies are sensitive to this, others are not. Varying your diet during breastfeeding will be a good way of introducing baby to the tastes they will rediscover when they begin food diversification.
- Dairy products (milk, yoghurt, fromage blanc) in order to ensure a sufficient calcium intake.
- Meat, fish and eggs for their high protein and iron content, in order to compensate for the losses during childbirth which will have depleted your reserves.
- Fruit and vegetables for their high fibre, mineral and vitamin content.
- Cereals (rice, semolina, pasta), legumes (dry beans, lentils, etc.) and potatoes for their carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and fibres.
- Fats: particularly rapeseed and walnut oils, or blends of several oils, which provide essential fatty acids.
- Water: drink lots of it since your water requirements increase during breastfeeding, your milk being mainly composed of water