There will always be an unmistakable and intimate bond between a mother and her baby. It starts at the moment of birth and generally continues for life.
The bond is instant as the baby, fragile and helpless, naturally latches onto the naked bosom (known as ‘skin-to-skin’) of the mother for warmth, love and of course, nutrition.
Nowadays, hospitals and birthing clinics adapt to the theory that the earlier the baby is breastfed, the more benefits it brings to the baby and the mother.
Breastfeeding triggers the hormone Prolactin. This is known to be the ‘mothering’ hormone of any lactating mother. Prolactin stimulates a sufficient milk supply, and even though at first the baby may not be interested in nursing, his/her digestion will be stimulated by the instinctive ‘rooting’ and ‘nuzzling’ behavior against the mother’s breast.
With continuous stimulation, the let-down reflex of the mother will further be initiated to produce more milk, especially the colostrum, which is the mother’s first and best milk, known to sustain the baby.
Secondly, the closeness of the baby to the mother during breastfeeding kindles the ‘love’ hormone, Oxytocin, which inspires the motherly love and affection for the new-born. Apart from that, Oxytocin has a soothing effect on both the mother and the baby enabling them to bond closely in warmth and comfort. Moreover, Oxytocin helps the uterus to contract and prevents bleeding and other unwanted complications.
Tips for Initiation Of Early Breastfeeding
Skin To Skin Contact
As much as possible in the first few hours (24-48 hours) after birth, it is best to initiate skin-to-skin by letting your naked baby (apart from the needed diaper). Lay on your chest with the baby’s head pressing on. Let the baby hear your heartbeat, as his/her little tummy lays on top of your tummy. This position not only provides a secure and warm environment of affection for the baby but also encourages frequent breastfeeding.
Calm The Baby – Don’t Make Him/Her Sleep
The process of childbirth is tiring for the baby. Babies are extremely comfortable when they are enveloped in mother’s love. With the warmth of the mother and the delicious taste of milk, the baby tends to drift off to dreamland. However, if your baby only does a few sucks and falls asleep, he/she may not be drinking as much colostrum as needed and the mother’s breasts will not be stimulated to make more milk. This will interfere with and reduce breast milk production.
Hence, it is vital to keep your baby awake so that the baby can suck and swallow, and enjoy feeding time. Keeping the baby awake is easy. Simply rub the baby’s head or feet; raise the baby’s arm from time to time; firmly massage the baby’s back or kiss the forehead and nose. If the baby is still too sleepy and unwilling to feed, its best to go with the baby’s patterns and let the baby seek feed when sufficiently hungry.
A Focused Mom Makes A Robust Baby
The mother’s mental health is as important as the right technique in initiating successful breastfeeding. The mother needs to focus on the task at hand, which is to nourish the baby. She must avoid being occupied with concerns that invite anxiety in her, making the ‘let down’ process of the milk harder.
The baby will not get enough milk even though latched properly if the mother is not conditioned to feed. Simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and listening to her favorite music can help the mother to relax.
A.T (Feeding As Tolerated)
Never worry that your baby might be ‘eating too much’ because it is vital for the baby to gain the desired weight so that the baby gets the needed energy for growth and development. So, whenever your baby seeks a feed, please do provide a feed. The baby will usually stick out their tongue, put their hands in their mouth, chew on their blanket or suck on anything that is near their mouth if they want to give the signal that they want to feed. A healthy baby usually nurses more than 8 times in 24 hours to maintain the desired weight. Furthermore, the milk will more likely come out faster, the more you breastfeed your baby.
Position Is Everything
There are about five effective positions to hold the baby to ensure proper placement during feeding. The most famous ones are the football hold and the cradle hold. Whichever is more comfortable for you and beneficial for your baby depends on how your baby adapts to you. Regardless of the position though, there are simple suggestions for a satisfying feed for your baby and less pain for your nipples as well. The first one is to ensure that your baby’s mouth can cover both the nipple and the areola to prevent compression on the nipple and making it sore. In the right spot, the action of the mouth, tongue and lips will massage the milk out of the milk glands. Secondly, make sure that your breast is not blocking your baby’s nose by either lightly depressing the breast with your finger to move it away from your baby’s nose or elevating the baby slightly to provide a little breathing room. You will know if the baby has latched properly if the baby’s chin and the tip of the baby’s nose touch your breast. The baby’s lips should be pointing outward rather than tucked in. Also, when your baby is suckling effectively you will notice some rhythmic motion in the baby’s cheek, jaw and ear, which is a strong, steady suck-swallow pattern with episodes of breathing in between. Take note, your baby might only be sucking on their own lower lips and may not be latched correctly if you hear clicking noises.
Breastfeeding is more than just nutrition for your baby, though that is of utmost importance. It is also the best way for the mother and child bond to intensify as they get to know each other better, get used to each other’s voices, smiles and even scents. These are the kind of memories that mothers cherish and the babies may have a faint memory of love and warmth of when the baby was still cuddled at his/her mother’s bosom.