Deciding to breastfeed is a great choice because of all the benefits for both you and your baby. Doctors will tell you that breast milk is an excellent source of nutrition for babies.
Whether you’re a first-time mom or just need a refresher course, there are some things to know about breastfeeding including the different stages your milk will go through as well as some products you may want to look into.
Breast milk Stages
The breast milk you give your baby at birth is going to be different than the milk you give a few months later. Here are the stages you can expect:
This is the first milk you’ll notice coming from your breasts. Colostrum is rich in antibodies and protein. It’s generally thick and can range in color from clear to even orange. This is due to the beta-carotene it contains.
Transitional breast milk
Breast milk typically changes from colostrum to this stage around five days after you give birth. You’ll notice and feel your breasts filling with milk. Transitional breast milk continues until your mature breast milk comes in about 2-3 weeks after you give birth.
Mature breast milk
This is the milk your body will produce continuously until you stop breastfeeding. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are two types of mature breast milk: fore-milk and hind-milk. The fore-milk is the milk that comes out at the beginning of the feeding. It’s full of vitamins and nutrients. The hind-milk is the milk that follows. It has more fat and is necessary for your baby to gain weight.
There are so many benefits for moms and babies from breastfeeding. According to the CDC, benefits for babies include a lower risk of the following medical conditions:
- Respiratory disease
Mothers who breastfeed can have a lower risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
These benefits are in addition to all of the nutrients that your baby will get from your breast milk.
How Long Should Moms Breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives. They recommended that breastfeeding should continue for up to one year or longer while serving complimentary food.
Ultimately, it is up to the mother to decide how long she wants to breastfeed and when she wants to stop.
What are the Different Types of Breastfeeding?
There are different types of breastfeeding depending on if you’re supplementing with formula or giving breast milk all of the time.
When you do this, your baby is only getting your breast milk. There is no formula, cereal, or solid food given.
Some women use formula and breastfeed. Mothers who have milk supply issues may choose to do this or those who just want to take a break from feedings once in a while.
Breastfeeding with solid foods
When your baby starts with solid foods, you can still breastfeed. This combination still gives them the nutrients from your breast milk as well as vitamins and minerals from solid foods.
Problems Some Women Face While Breastfeeding
While breastfeeding is beautiful for moms and babies, some women encounter problems. These can include issues with lactation. Many women are afraid that their bodies don’t produce enough milk. There are things you can do to increase lactation so you can continue breastfeeding, such as power pumping. Other women may deal with one breast producing more milk than the other.
Some mothers also worry that their babies are never satisfied after breastfeeding. There are things you can do to make sure your baby is getting enough breast milk. It’s important that your baby is comfortable and that your baby has the right latch. Having the right rocking chair for your nursery and breastfeeding pillow can help.
Other women deal with engorgement issues that make their breasts feel hard and painful. This can happen when you don’t breastfeed enough or when your milk supply increases.
Painful nipples can also be a problem and can make breastfeeding painful. Rubbing a few drops of breast milk on your nipples can soothe them. Clogged milk ducts can also cause discomfort. This can happen due to a bad latch, dehydration, and lack of sleep, among other reasons.
When you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to tackle any issues quickly so that both you and your baby can have a positive experience.
Breastfeeding Products to Check Out
When you’re breastfeeding, there are certain products out there that can make it easier.
- Best Scales for Breastfeeding Babies: Many moms want to keep track of their baby’s weight to make sure they are gaining enough while breastfeeding.
- Lansinoh vs. Medela Breast Pump: Which is Better? If you choose to pump your milk, it’s important to know about the different types of pumps out there.
- Breastfeeding supplies: Therashells can help with a variety of breastfeeding issues like sore nipples and inverted nipples.
- Best Nursing Tank Tops: This can make it easier to breastfeed your baby, especially in public.
- Best Postpartum Clothing Items: Besides tank tops, there are other clothing items you may want to check out to make breastfeeding more comfortable and easy.