Breastfeeding is a way to nourish your baby from your own breast milk from your own body. Breast milk is produced in mammary glands. From there, it travels through milk ducts to openings in your nipples. When your baby suckles on your nipples, your body releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin controls milk production and oxytocin controls the release or let down of milk through milk ducts.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby
Breastfeeding benefits your baby by providing the optimal balance of:
- Antibodies to support your babies’ immune system
- Reducing your baby’s risk of asthma, allergies, colic, obesity, diarrhea, and certain ear and lung infections
- Providing nutrients that are easily digested
- Reducing your baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
- It gives you the convenient, inexpensive nourishment for the baby
- Helping to lose excess body weight
- Helping the uterus contract after delivery
- Increasing the bond with the baby
There are four basic breastfeeding positions: cradle hold position, side lying position, cross-cradle hold, and football hold. Your baby is born with the instinct to turn to your nipple with an open mouth and suck. To trigger this instinct, you can lightly stroke your baby’s lip with your nipple. When the baby opens his/her mouth, position the nipple towards the roof of the mouth and pull him/her close to your breast.
It may take some time for your baby to learn to get his/her mouth around the nipple or latch on. When properly latched, your baby’s mouth will cover your nipple and most of your areola. Your baby’s lips will curl out and his/her nose will touch your breast. You should hear smooth, regular sucking sounds along with swallowing. Let your baby nurse as long as he/she wants. Many newborn babies nurse eight to twelve times a day.