Breastfeeding is the act of feeding an infant or young child milk directly from the breast. It is a natural and healthy way to provide nutrition for your baby, and it comes with many benefits for both mother and child. However, breastfeeding can also be challenging, and it is not always easy to get started or to maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship.
How to Breastfeed? What are the 4 stages of breastfeeding?
This blog post will provide an overview of the four stages of
breastfeeding, as well as some tips for success. We will also discuss some
common challenges that mothers may face during breastfeeding, and when to seek
help from a lactation consultant or doctor.
The Four Stages of Breastfeeding.
The first stage: of breastfeeding starts before baby is born.
During pregnancy, the breasts begin to prepare for
milk production. The nipples and areola (the dark area around the nipple)
enlarge and darken. The Montgomery glands, which are small bumps on the areola,
increase in size and secrete an oily substance that keeps the skin around the
nipple soft and protected. Colostrum, the first milk produced after childbirth,
begins to fill the breast ducts late in pregnancy.
There are several things you can do during pregnancy
to prepare for breastfeeding:
• Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Reading books, attending
classes or watching videos about breastfeeding will help you understand how it
works and what to expect. You can also talk to other moms who have breastfed, a
lactation consultant or your healthcare provider.
• Make sure your diet is nutritious and includes plenty of fluids.
Eating a healthy diet helps your body produce enough milk for your baby. Drink
plenty of fluids, especially water, to keep your body hydrated and producing
• Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. These substances can pass from
your bloodstream into your breastmilk and affect your baby’s health. If you’re
taking medication, check with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s
compatible with breastfeeding.
Stage Two: Establishing Breastfeeding
The second stage of breastfeeding starts after baby is born and lasts
until baby is about two weeks old. This is when baby learns how to latch onto
the nipple and breastfeed effectively. It’s important during this stage to:
• Position baby correctly - Baby should be tummy-to-tummy with you, with
their nose level with the nipple so they can open their mouth wide while
latching on (think letter “C”). Support baby’s head and back with your hand
while bringing them close to your breast (you may need pillows for support).
Bring the nipple towards baby rather than trying to position baby onto the
nipple since this can cause frustration for both of you!
• Ensure a good latch - Baby should take more of the areola into their
mouth than just the nipple (you want them latched onto mostly Areola so they
get more hindmilk which has all those awesome fats!). To break suction gently
insert your pinky finger between their gums while supporting their head with
your other hand; do NOT pullbaby away fromyour breast by their head as this can
damage delicate neck muscles!
Tips for Successful Breastfeeding.
Correct positioning and latch are essential for successful
breastfeeding. The baby should be positioned so that their mouth is level with
the nipple, and the nipple should be inserted into the baby's mouth as far back
as possible. To achieve a good latch, the baby's tongue should be down, and the
lower jaw should be extended. The baby's lips should be flanged out, and they
should have a wide gape.
To position the baby correctly, hold them close to your body with their
head in line with your nipple. You can support their head with your hand or
arm. Bring them close enough so that they can take a deep breath in and root
around to find your nipple. Once they have found your nipple, allow them to
latch on and start sucking.
If you are having trouble getting the baby to latch on correctly, try
using a breast shield. A breast shield is a thin piece of silicone that you
place over your nipple before attempting to latch the baby on. This can help if
you have flat or inverted nipples.
Breastfeeding frequency and duration.
It is recommended that babies be fed every two to three hours in the
early days after birth. As baby gets older, they will likely start sleeping for
longer stretches at night and will space out their feedings during the day
accordingly. The length of time each feeding takes will vary depending on the
baby's age and appetite, but typically it takes around 20 minutes for a newborn
to eat an adequate amount of milk (Eagle 2012).
As baby gets older, they will nurse less frequently but for longer
periods of time per feeding. By six months old, most babies are only nursing
four to five times per day (Eagle 2012). However, it is important to remember
that every baby is different and some may continue to nurse more frequently
even after six months old.
Diet and hydration
It is important to drink plenty of fluids while breastfeeding, as
dehydration can lead to decreased milk production (Huggins 2007). aim for eight
to ten glasses of water per day in addition to other beverages like milk,
juice, herbal tea or coffee (Huggins 2007). Eating a well-balanced diet will
also help ensure an adequate milk supply (Huggins 2007). Foods that are
particularly beneficial for lactating mothers include leafy green vegetables,
whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, lean protein sources and plenty of
healthy fats like avocados and olive oil (Huggins 2007).
Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for both mother and child during
breastfeeding (Cooke 2014). Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish
like salmon or tuna , flaxseed oil , chia seeds , walnuts , soybeans , tofu ,
Brussels sprouts , kale , spinach , broccoli , pumpkin seeds and eggs . aim to eat two servings of fish
per week while breastfeeding (Cooke 2014). If you do not eat fish or are
vegan/vegetarian , taking a daily omega-3 supplement is recommended (Cooke 2014) .
Pumping and storage
If you need to pump your breast milk, it is important to use a clean,
sterilized pump and storage container. Breast milk can be stored in a covered
glass or hard plastic container in the refrigerator for up to four days (USDA
2018). It can also be stored in a covered, freezer-safe container in the
freezer for up to six months (USDA 2018). When thawing frozen breast milk,
place it in the refrigerator overnight or under cold running water (USDA 2018).
Never re-freeze thawed breast milk.
If you are away from home and cannot refrigerate or freeze your breast
milk, it can be kept at room temperature for up to four hours (USDA 2018). If
possible, keep the breast milk in an insulated bag with ice packs.
Breastfeeding Challenges and How to Overcome Them.
Engorgement is when your breasts become too full of milk. This can
happen in the early days after childbirth, or if you haven't breastfed your
baby for a while. Engorgement can make it difficult to latch your baby on, and
can cause pain.
To ease engorgement, try expressing some milk before you breastfeed,
using a cold compress on your breasts, or taking a warm shower. If you're still
having trouble, contact a lactation consultant or your doctor for help.
Low milk supply.
It's normal for your milk supply to fluctuate in the early days and
weeks after childbirth. However, if you're concerned that your milk supply is
low, there are things you can do to increase it. These include breastfeeding
frequently, using a breast pump to stimulate production, and eating foods that
promote lactation (such as oatmeal and fenugreek). If you're still having
trouble increasing your milk supply, contact a lactation consultant or your
doctor for help.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that can cause fever,
chills, and pain. It usually happens when a blocked milk duct isn't drained
properly. To treat mastitis at home, rest as much as possible, take pain
relievers if needed, nurse frequently from both breasts (even if only one is
affected), use a warm compress on the affected area, and express milk often to
relieve pressure. If you're still having symptoms after a few days, or if your
fever is over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, contact your doctor.
Nipple pain is common in the early days of breastfeeding, but it
shouldn't last long. To ease nipple pain, use a lanolin cream or gel (such as
Lansinoh), express milk frequently, and try different nursing positions. If
you're still in pain after a few days, contact a lactation consultant or your
doctor for help.
When to Seek Help from a Lactation Consultant or Doctor.
If you are concerned about your baby's weight gain, it is important to
seek help from a lactation consultant or doctor. A lactation consultant can
help you determine if your baby is getting enough milk and offer suggestions on
how to increase your milk production. A doctor can rule out any medical
conditions that may be causing your baby to lose weight.
Breastfeeding is not going well.
If you are having difficulty breastfeeding, it is important to seek help
from a lactation consultant or doctor. A lactation consultant can help you with
positioning and latch, and offer suggestions on how to increase your milk
production. A doctor can rule out any medical conditions that may be causing
you difficulties breastfeeding.
You have questions or concerns.
If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding, it is
important to seek help from a lactation consultant or doctor. They can answer
any questions you have and provide support and guidance through the
Breastfeeding is an amazing way to bond with your baby and provide them
with the best nutrition possible. Although it can be challenging at times,
there are many resources available to help you succeed. With a little patience
and practice, you will be a breastfeeding pro in no time!