Breastfeeding - Helpful Tips - by Daphne Nancholas
Breastfeeding has many benefits for your baby. If your baby can be breast-fed
for at least 6 months then the risk of allergies, such as eczema, are reduced,
ear infections and stomach upsets are also reduced. Mother's milk seems
to boost your baby's immune system generally.
How does breast milk do this?
Well breast-milk, unlike formula milk, contains antibodies designed
to prevent an immature immune system from becoming overwhelmed with the
foreign proteins that challenge it. Research has shown that exclusive breastfeeding
for six months is associated with a reduced incidence of allergy and reduced
risk of gastro-intestinal illness, respiratory illness, ear infections,
diabetes, obesity and respiratory wheeze. So there are lots of benefits
for your baby if you breast-feed.
According to the NCT nine out of ten mothers did not know that breastfeeding
for just one month has a lasting impact on health during the first 14 years
of a baby's life. All the authoritative expert bodies that advise on parenting
are still right behind the message they've always endorsed: breastfeeding
is definitely still the best. The longer the breastfeeding continues, the
greater the health gains for both mother and baby.
Benefits for mums too?
Mothers are encouraged to breast-feed, though some women find that it
can be embarrassing to do so in public places. Embarrassment aside there
are benefits to mothers as well. Breastfeeding can lead to a more rapid
return to your pre-pregnancy weight and also reduces the risk to mothers
of pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
For some people breastfeeding can be a painful and upsetting experience.
It is a skill that both mothers and babies have to learn and it's not
always easy to pick up. In fact, many women stop breastfeeding before they
intended because it proves too difficult or because they are worried that
their baby is not getting enough milk. New mums, in particular, can struggle
with breastfeeding if they are not given the help and support they need.
The following are some of the common problems in breastfeeding and suggestions
of how to help:
There are three main causes of painful breasts.
1. A blocked milk tube can cause swelling and acute pain of the breast.
It usually feels like a bruised lump and a red streak may radiate out from
2. Mastitis, an infection in the breast which causes pain and is usually
accompanied by a fever and acute tenderness and redness of the breast.
The infected breast may become hard, lumpy and swollen.
3. An oversupply of milk engorges the breast and usually causes some
What can help these problems?
1. Blocked tube - If you have a blocked tube continue nursing as stopping
can increase the discomfort and endanger the milk supply. Go carefully
though and nurse or pump every hour - just enough to empty the breast.
Get plenty of rest and the blockage will usually clear within a few hours
2. Mastitis - Breast infections are almost always a sign of too little
rest. It is important to nurse often, keeping the breasts empty to promote
prompt healing. The infection itself will not make your baby sick. Take
Echinacea to clear the infection. You should be able to purchase this in
any reputable health food shop.
3. Oversupply of milk - Drink sage tea. Sage is an anti-galactagogue
which means that it decreases the supply of milk. Sage tea will be available
at health food shops.
The most common cause of sore nipples is of course from your baby tugging
at the nipple.
If however your nipples are persistently or suddenly sore you might
have a thrush infection. Other symptoms of thrush are pink, flaky skin
and itchy nipples. Stopping breast-feeding will not help the infection
or sore nipples, in fact they are more likely to be helped by frequent
Try not to wear a bra day and night. Wear your nursing bra with flaps
down whenever possible - expose your breasts to the air, this helps.
Rub sweet almond oil or lanolin into the nipples during the latter part
of the pregnancy and the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
Also rubbing calendula cream on the nipple will soothe and heal, just
be sure to wipe off before breastfeeding. Pure vitamin E oil applied after
nursing is very helpful - use pure Vitamin E. Avoid washing your nipples
in soap as soap removes natural oils and can cause cracking.
Eat healthily. Remember whatever you are eating and drinking will have
an immediate effect on your milk and therefore your baby.
Feed often so your baby doesn't get hungry and tear at the breast.
Relax! Soothing music played while you are breastfeeding will relax
both yourself and your baby. By relaxing the flow of milk is better and
obviously if your baby is calm rather than stressed the whole process is
going to be gentler.
The right position
When your baby is feeding make sure that the entire areola (dark area)
is in your baby's mouth and that the nipple is centred. Hold your baby
in such a position that his or her nose is roughly opposite your nipple,
before the feed begins. If you support your baby across the shoulders with
your forearm or the heel of your hand, so that his/her head is free to
extend backwards slightly then your baby can approach the underside of
the breast, rather than coming straight at it.
You want your baby to open as wide as possible - try not to push the
breast into your baby's mouth, it needs to be the other way around. Your
baby's mouth will widen as it brushes the breast, just make sure that the
lower lip is latched around the aerola. You might need to support your
breast slightly, so that the position remains the same.
How will you know when it's right?
Your baby's sucking changes to a longer, slower, more rhythmic pattern
with lots of long pauses. He or she may even doze off sometimes. Your baby
will be relaxed throughout the feed and remain so for some minutes afterwards.
You can be lying down as well as sitting for this process. A feed should
not last more than 40 minutes at a time.
About The Author
Daphne Nancholas is a registered homeopath and for the past 10 years
has specialised in the female cycle, including pregnancy, birth and babies.
She is a published author - her book Taking Off is a handbook for newly
qualified homeopathic practitioners.Her website is: www.daphnehomeopath.co.uk.
Daphne and her partner Graham have recently released their relaxation CD
for mother and baby - you can hear a sample and read reviews and testimonials