Breast milk is the only food that babies need for the first 6 months of life. Then you can introduce other food, but you should continue breastfeeding until Your Child is 2 years or longer — in some countries children are nursed until age 5.
What to expect
During the first few days after Your Child delivery, your body will make colostrum, a nutrient-rich “pre-milk”. Colostrum contains an important immune-boosting nutrient and also helps fight infection. By the 4th day, your breast will start to feel firmer. This is a sign that your milk supply is increasing and changing from colostrum to mature milk, which is usually whiter and creamier.
Your milk may take longer to come in, but this shouldn’t be a source of concern. You can talk to your doctor about it.
When you start nursing Your Child
You can start nursing within an hour of your baby’s birth. Babies are more likely to be alert within the first few hours of life, so you can take advantage of this natural wakefulness and offer them breast milk. In the first few days of life, babies tend to sleep most of the time and only feed on demand, usually every 1 – 3 hours.
How to know if Your Child is getting enough milk
Your Child is probably getting enough milk if the little one:
- Feeds 8 – 12 times a day
- Seems satisfied and content after eating
- Sleeps well
- Is alert when awake
- Is gaining weight
- Urinates after a meal
Health benefits of breast milk
Breast milk has many long-term health benefits for Your Child, such as:
- Fighting infection and other conditions: Breast milk helps to protect against conditions, such as diarrhea, meningitis, ear, and respiratory infections, because some antibodies and other immune-boosting substances are passed along with it from the mother to baby to strengthen the baby’s immune system.
- Ease of digestion: Generally, breastfed infants have less difficulty with digestion than do formula-fed infants. This is because the components of breast milk — lactose, whey, casein, and fat — are easily digested by a newborn.
- Nutrition: Breast milk contains all minerals and vitamins (except vitamin D) that a newborn requires.
- Healthy teeth: Breastfeeding up to 12 months is associated with a lower risk of tooth decay.
- Saves money: Breast milk does not cost any money, apart from the costs of the extra calories you have to eat.
- Different tastes: Breastfed babies are introduced to different tastes through their mothers’ breast milk, because that milk has different tastes, depending on what the mother eats.
- Convenience: Breast milk is always fresh and available wherever you are, and there is no need to wash bottles or warm them at each feeding time.
What you can do if you are having a hard time
Breastfeeding Your Child takes time and practice, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do as a new mother. Talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant, if you want to breastfeed but have trouble doing so.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (22 July 2021)