If a fairy godmother offered you a magic potion that would magically boost your baby’s immune system, fight infections and diseases like ear infection, meningitis, diarrhoea, urinary tract and respiratory infections and simultaneously boost intelligence and reduce his or her risk of obesity or contracting diabetes and leukaemia, wouldn’t you give it to your baby immediately and as much of it as possible?
Even though we are not living in fairytopia, God has given that magic potion to every Mom; it is called breast milk.
Breast milk in the layman's language is the milk produced by a lactating female. Sounds simple? Technically it is actually quite a complex process. Breast milk is known by different terminologies depending on the time of production and composition.
The first milk that is produced is called colostrum and it is usually present after the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. Once the baby is born, it is present for approximately the first 3 days. Ideally you should start breastfeeding as soon as possible after giving birth and thereafter every 1 to 3 hours per 24 hours (8-12 times per 24 hours), based on demand. Colostrum has a yellow tinge and is thick in consistency. It is highly nutritional and is high in protein and low in fat and sugar. It also helps to build your baby’s immune system and acts as a natural laxative by helping your baby to pass his or her first stool, called meconium.
In about 48 to 72 hours colostrum gives way to mature milk. The duration varies depending on initiation time of breastfeeding and its frequency. Mature milk consists of two components:-
Foremilk: The first milk the baby receives on initiation of breastfeeding. It is thin and watery with a light blue tinge, composed largely of water and is necessary to satisfy the baby's thirst.
Hindmilk: Thereafter hindmilk is produced, which has the highest concentration of fat and is released after several minutes of nursing. Hindmilk is important for the baby to feel satisfied and to gain adequate weight.
Some helpful tips for new Moms:
- Try to keep your baby at one breast for at least 20 minutes to get both fore- and hindmilk and remember to alternate starting breasts;
- Sleep when your baby sleeps – it takes a while to get used to the sorter naps, but at least you will get some rest;
- Eat proper, balance meals. Your body will tell you that you need additional nutrition while breastfeeding and experts indicated that you need an extra 2500 kilojoules per day.
- While breastfeeding you can eat practically everything although babies most often object to chocolate; spices (cinnamon, garlic, curry, chili pepper); citrus fruits and their juices, like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit; strawberries; kiwifruit; pineapple; the gassy veggies (onion, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, and peppers); and fruits with a laxative effect, such as cherries and prunes.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to keep you hydrated and keep a glass of water close by during breastfeeding;
Remember that breastfeeding your baby will help you to shed those extra calories that you have accumulated during pregnancy and it also helps in shrinking the size of the uterus that over grows during pregnancy. You will feel the tinge in your stomach during breastfeeding;
Breastfeeding also helps to reduce your chances of ovarian, breast and uterus cancer.