Thursday 27 June 2013

Breastfeeding - The Ins and Outs

Did you know there are three different types of milk you will give to your baby?  

In the first three days after your baby is born you will produce Colostrum.  Colostrum is packed with your antibodies which are passed to your baby to help develop their immune system.  It’s a great start!  It contains half the carbohydrates and fats of regular milk and is specially adapted to meet the immediate needs of the newborn.  Really, Mother Nature is quite marvellous!

Around Day 3 your ‘milk will come in.’ This means your breasts will fill with the fore and hind milk baby needs to develop.   The fore milk will satisfy the baby’s thirst while the richer hind milk will make your baby feel deliciously full.  Because there are two types of milk it is important that each breast is emptied entirely before switching breasts if baby is still hungry, otherwise it’s like giving your baby plenty to drink but no food.  A minimum of 10 minutes is needed. 

If you express, it’s possible to see the difference.  Fore milk looks quite watery, while the hind milk is more yellow, thicker and richer. 

Amazingly there are 15 -20 openings in the nipple (why does no one ever tell you this stuff) out of which the milk flows.  The milk is stored in clusters of cells, called alveoli that look like bunches of grapes.   
The milk travels along the milk ducts (mini pipes) and out of the nipple. 

Will there be enough?
There’s always enough!  Breast-feeding an infant is a supply and demand function. The more (and longer) a baby nurses, the more milk is produced.

Although it might look like a baby is chewing on your nipple, ultrasound images show he actually removes milk by creating a vacuum – also known as sucking.

When the baby’s tongue is lowered and the vacuum is applied, the milk comes out of the breast, and doesn't involve any compression of the nipple - it's not a milking action at all – no we’re NOT dairy cows in training.

Infants who struggle to breastfeed usually generate a much weaker vacuum than successful breastfeeders. This may explain why babies with a cleft palate often fail to breastfeed, as do premature babies who don't have strong enough mouth muscles to suck hard enough.

Last job – burping
You know yourself how much it feels to have a big burp after a satisfying meal.  Well babies are just the same.  Burp your baby by sitting him on your lap with his head down or over your shoulder and rubbing his back.  A great tip for a baby with trapped wind is to walk up and down the stairs with him over your shoulder. And don’t forget the muslin to catch the inevitable!  

1 comment:

  1. What a great summary of how it all works. I've always thought of the way the milk comes out as a picture of a whale! It starts off thin and with little fat (the tail) and the progresses slowly up until it becomes really fat!


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