This article was published in local “Parent” Magazine October 2007, posted to blog 03/24/09
SOFT and SIMPLE
A newborn baby, held gently and nursing, drinking his own mother’s breast milk is a magnificently beautiful and natural picture. That baby is simply receiving the best protection he could ever have to start his life. Most mothers want to learn what is best for their new babies, and breastfeeding is at the top of the list.
Exclusive Breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding for at least the first year is recommended by all the experts. This is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), World Heath Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) along with many others.
What’s more, the focus of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW)(August 1 – 7, 2007) is the Importance of Breastfeeding in the FIRST HOUR. Worldwide, that focus can help save a million babies each year from preventable disease.
Simply put, here’s why Breastfeeding is so IMPORTANT for babies:
§ Human milk for Human babies! Breast Milk contains the EXACT nutrients in the exact ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids etc. required by babies for optimal growth. It’s Nutritionally Unbeatable.
§ Breast milk has LIVE protection factors, among others, that actually work to eat or kill bacteria and viruses before baby could get sick.
§ Breast milk is loaded with immunities. Whatever illnesses or diseases mom has been exposed to in her lifetime, her body made antibodies against these things to naturally fight back. These antibodies are passed through her breast milk to ALSO protect the baby.
§ Some antibodies are made ON THE SPOT and passed to the baby BEFORE mom even knows she has been exposed. If a virus passes thru a family, sometimes a breastfeeding baby is the only one in the family who DID NOT get sick!
§ Scientists keep researching and finding out more and more protection factors that just can’t ever be put in formulas.
What about the Moms? The benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop with the baby:
§ Breastfeeding fosters a NATURAL BOND between mother and child that is simply magical. Skin to skin contact, and getting baby to breast in the FIRST HOUR helps restore the connection between mother and baby once the baby is out of the womb. Keeping baby next to mom helps the natural release of the hormone oxytocin.
§ This hormone helps to promote attachment, control blood loss and helps the release and flow of colostrum (LIQUID GOLD).
§ The mother’s body returns to it’s pre-pregnancy shape much faster.
§ You will use up more calories a day producing milk so there is usually a natural WEIGHT LOSS benefit.
§ Breastfeeding is ECOLOGICALLY FRIENDLY, no cans, plastic or industrial waste.
§ Breastfeeding is ECONOMICAL. The milk is FREE, always at the right temperature, always READY TO SERVE.
“WELCOME BABY SOFTLY”
This is the focus of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) as part of the world wide WBW theme: “Breastfeeding: the 1st Hour- Save 1 Million Babies”.
To Welcome your Baby Softly simply means everyone working together to maintain an environment keeping mom and baby together so baby can explore his new world using all 5 senses and stay close with mom until he has his first breastfeed. S.O.F.T. stands for:
- S Skin to Skin contact
- O Open eye gazing at one another
- F Fingertip Touching
- T Time together
According to the press release from ILCA: “Research shows that babies come into this world seeking close contact with their mother’s body. When mothers hold their babies skin-to-skin immediately after birth, their babies are kept warm, they regulate their heart, respiratory, and oxygen saturation rates, and they do not feel pain as acutely. All of this means they are calmer, happier, and cry less.” “Babies use all five senses to explore this new world. They use their eyes to memorize their mothers’ faces, their ears to associate her voice with her face, and their sense of smell to guide them in finding the breast. Their sense of taste is also at a heightened state, and they are particularly drawn to the flavor of breast milk. Babies’ sense of touch helps this process work effectively.”
Dads, Grandparents, and the Healthcare Team can all help to promote this early closeness in the first 1 to 2 hours after birth. We can all work towards a welcoming environment that greets babies softly.
KEEP IT SIMPLE—THE BOTTOM LINE
The benefits are almost always discussed and there are so many books out there on the “how to” of breastfeeding. You, as the new mom, can’t know everything or feel like you need to “study” before nursing. Some understanding of the process is important, what your body is doing and most importantly what the baby needs to do to get the milk. Try to think only about what you need to know to get started. (Much of this you will learn as you get going) Everything else will fall in to place.
v THE LATCH– LEARN HOW TO TELL THE LATCH IS CORRECT. Start in the first hour when baby has the best alert state and strong sucking instincts. Get help from skilled people at the feedings while learning; Nurses, LLL, Breastfeeding Educators or a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
v THE RIGHT JOB— LEARN HOW TO TELL THE BABY IS DOING A GOOD JOB. The baby needs to be feeding well at the breast, really drinking and swallowing. Once the latch is right, learn what to look for to call it a good feeding.
v OFTEN ENOUGH– LEARN TO WATCH FOR THE RIGHT NUMBER OF FEEDS IN A DAY. Once you’ve learned the latch and how to tell the job is being done right, now it is important that the baby feeds like that at least 8 times in 24 hours after about 2 days old. It is more common this will be more like 10 -12 times in 24 hrs. Babies don’t have any idea what time it is and can’t go on a strict schedule! Are you ever hungry soon after you have eaten? Babies are too. It is normal for them to feed sporadically or sometimes cluster the feeds. We don’t like to see them go more that 4 hrs between feeds. This can be OK, however, IF it is only once in the 24 hr day and there are enough good feeds in the rest of that 24hrs to make the minimum 8 feeds AND everything else looks good.
v DIAPERS—LEARN HOW TO LOOK FOR ENOUGH GOOD WET and SOILED DIAPERS IN EACH DAY. As your milk supply builds and baby feeds well, by the 4th day or so, your baby should have at least 5 to 6 heavy wet paper diapers in 24 hrs and several stools that have started to turn yellow in color. The more stools, the better!
v WEIGHT GAIN—LEARN WHAT IS EXPECTED. Almost all babies lose some weight after birth. Babies should have regained that weight (back to birth weight) by 2 weeks of age minimum, sooner is better. After that, they should gain about 4 to 7 ounces a week.
v LOOK AT THE WHOLE PICTURE—REMEMBER THAT ALL THESE PIECES NEED TO WORK TOGETHER. In order for you to see how things are going, try to look at the whole picture and not just what is happening in the last 2 hours. ALWAYS GET HELP IF THINGS AREN’T GOING WELL
We know there is a lot to learn regarding breastfeeding. Try first to understand the Importance, and approach it by Welcoming your Baby Softly, and then Keep it Simple!
Here is a great quote:
“Mothers don’t breastfeed. Babies’ breastfeed. The mother’s body is simply the habitat where the baby feeds” Nils Berman MD
(Remember, the baby never did this before)