The benefits of breastfeeding are immense. It is nature’s natural way of creating nutrition for the child. And for the first six months, all of the infant’s nutritional requirements can be fulfilled with breast milk.
Breastfeeding also helps the mum bond better with the baby, while skin-to-skin contact helps build the child’s immune system. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that you exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of your baby’s life, and continue up to the age of two years and beyond.
Breast milk is so potent that it negates the need of feeding water to the baby separately. About 80 per cent of breast milk is water and that ensures that babies have a smooth tummy.
Breast milk also helps transfer antibodies from the mum to the baby, and that has been the case with the Covid-19 vaccinations as well.
Moreover, it becomes necessary for mums who lactate after birth to feed their babies. Storing milk can become painful and also increases the risk of milk blisters, blockages, engorgement, mastitis and more. Breastfeeding then helps avoid these issues.
It also lowers the risk of postpartum depression, high blood pressure, heart diseases and even diabetes. And let’s not forget about all those dollars you save by not spending on formula milk.
Still have more questions? Don’t worry, theAsianparent has got you covered.
We spoke to Ms Hor Mei Siew, Lactation Consultant, at the Gleneagles Hospital in Parkway Pantai, to clear all your doubts and answer the frequently asked questions about breastfeeding.
15 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms As Advised By A Lactation Consultant
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1. How much breastmilk will a baby consume at 1-3 months of age, 4-6 months of age, and at age of one?
Ms Mei Siew says that exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 750-1000 ml per day between the ages of one and six months.
After six months, breastmilk intake will begin to decrease gradually because the baby starts taking solids. A one-year-old will drink about 480-720 ml every day.
2. What should a new mother do if breast milk doesn’t come in the first week of the baby’s birth?
One of the most important breastfeeding tips for new moms is to encourage the body to generate milk. Here’s what Ms Mei Siew recommends:
- Continue massaging the breasts, help the baby latch, and hand express or pump 8 to 12 times a day.
- Do skin-to-skin contact daily till 4 to 6 weeks.
- Be mentally and physically relaxed.
- Stay positive (visualise that you have plenty of milk and are feeding your baby comfortably).
- Keep yourself well hydrated and eat well.
- Take galactagogues such as Fenugreek and Domperidone.
3. What is a good and a bad latch?
Here’s how Ms Mei Siew recommends mums identify a good latch.
- Mother can observe the baby and ensure the nostrils are not occluded by the breast.
- The baby’s chin sinks into the breast.
- The baby’s lips are flanged.
- The jaw moves rhythmically.
- Mother can hear baby swallowing.
- There may be milk visible at the corner of the mouth.
Meanwhile, here’s what a bad latch will feel like:
- The baby will suck on the nipple instead of the areola.
- Nipple will not extend far enough back into the baby’s mouth, his tongue will compress the nipple against his hard palate, which can cause pain and damage to the nipple.
- Baby will not get enough milk and may be hungry.
4. How to tell if the baby is hungry for breast milk?
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Ms Mei Siew suggests all mums to check the following signs that indicate your baby is hungry.
- The baby will continue to suckle if still hungry.
- Your baby will open their little mouth and nuzzle against you, looking for your breast, or start sucking on whatever they can find.
- Baby may cry or become fussy.
- Move their heads from side to side.
- Open their mouth.
- Stick out their tongue.
- Place their hands and fists to their mouth.
- Pucker their lips as if sucking.
5. How to increase breast milk supply?
Ms Mei Siew recommends massaging the breasts and feeding the baby about 8-12 times a day.
“If the baby is not with you, you can pump about eight times a day. Drained breasts make milk more quickly, whereas full breasts slow down milk production,” she notes.
6. What are the best foods to increase breast milk supply?
Ms Mei Siew emphasises that eating balanced and in moderation will help mums generate milk.
“Breastfeeding mums should have an extra 500 calories a day. There’s no magic potion that will increase breast milk supply but some foods may help,” she says listing the following:
- Fennel and Fenugreek seeds
- Protein-rich foods such as eggs, lean meat
- Nuts such as almonds
7. How can one best care for cracked or sore nipples?
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Ms Mei Siew says that some breastfeeding mothers may experience nipple tenderness in the early postpartum period. “This tenderness usually disappears completely within the first week or two if the baby is positioned correctly, latched on well, and is suckling effectively,” she says.
She recommends preventing cracked/sore nipples with:
- Correct position of the baby
- Optimal latching
- Break suction with a finger before taking the baby off the breast
“For slightly sore nipples, apply breastmilk after a feed and air-dry the area,” Ms Mei Siew advises.
As for management of sore nipple, the ace lactation consultant asks mums to work on the following:
- Correct attachment and positioning.
- Always feed baby on the less sore breast first.
- Use different positions for breastfeeding.
- If soreness continues or you still have cracked nipples, hand express or pump for the next 24 hours to let your nipples heal.
“If your nipples are more than tender or the pain is worsening, it’s best to try to figure out the cause as early as possible. Seek help from a lactation consultant or an experienced breastfeeding support person,” advises Ms Mei Siew.
8. How to deal with engorgement?
“This happens due to the accumulation of milk in the breasts, resulting in hardness, over-distension, discomfort or pain,” explains Ms Mei Siew.
She says that mums can prevent this by:
- Initiating breastfeeding early.
- Ensuring a proper latch.
- Regularly emptying the breast including night feeds.
- Massaging and expressing before latching on, if the child skipped feeding.
- Applying a cold compress or cold cabbage leaves to the breast after feeding to relieve discomfort if engorgement persists.
9. How to care for nipple thrush?
“If thrush is diagnosed, both the mother and baby should be treated simultaneously even if the baby has no visible symptoms. Breastfeeding can continue,” says Ms Mei Siew.
10. What is the best method and time to pump?
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Ms Mei Siew advises, “For the first one month, feed, feed, feed baby directly from the breast. After a month, pump one or two times a day.”
“When pumping, sit comfortably and preferably have the baby within sight or look at the baby’s photos. Make sure to massage the breast and areola before pumping and pump for 15-20 mins. Always finish pumping with massaging breast and hand express the areola just to finish off the pump session,” she says.
As for the time, Ms Mei Siew says, “Choose a time that suits you and make it into a routine. Sit at the same place. A morning pump is best because there is plenty of milk after a good sleep.”
11. What to do if you spot blood in breastmilk?
Ms Mei Siew says seeing blood in breastmilk can be alarming but is not harmful to the baby. You can continue breastfeeding the baby and the blood will stop on its own within a few days.
However, if that’s not the case, you must ensure to visit a healthcare provider. Some of the causes for bleeding including damaged nipples and capillaries in the breast or using a pump with a very high vacuum.
- Damaged nipple: This usually occurs due to poor latch and can be rectified by the baby properly latching themselves. You can apply some breastmilk or nipple cream to resolve this issue.
- Damaged capillaries: This occurs due to some trauma to the breast. This can cause the capillaries to burst and cause the blood to seep into your milk. You will need to wait for a few days and let the breasts relax so that they heal themselves.
- High vacuum pump: Lower the suction on your breast pump so that your breasts get an opportunity to heal.
12. What is the best way to start breastfeeding if stopped for a few months?
While this can be a challenging situation for any mother, Ms Mei Siew recommends trying galactagogues such as Fenugreek and Domperidone, as well hand messaging breasts to initiate milk.
“You also need to visit a location consultant to help you out more professionally,” she advises.
13. Is it safe to give goat milk to a baby after six months?
“As babies turn six months old, mums can start giving solid foods to their babies. However, goat milk is an unsafe choice for infants under the age of one,” points Ms Mei Siew.
14. Can a breastfeeding mum dye or perm her hair or do any other cosmetic treatments?
Yes, says Ms Mei Siew. If there’s a concern, she recommends you speak to your doctor first.
15. What are the most common concerns of breastfeeding mums in Singapore?
First-time Singapore mums have the following concerns when it comes to breastfeeding, says Ms Mei Siew.
- Fear of no or not enough milk
- Fear of baby having not enough
- If the baby has had enough breast milk
- Care for sore nipples
- Breast engorgement
- Issue of mastitis
- Ways to clear blocked ducts
“Breastfeeding may be difficult in the beginning but with practice, one can master it. The first six weeks of taking care of the newborn and breastfeeding can be the most challenging task. But it will get better. So don’t be scared. If really scared, perhaps pump out the milk and give the baby breastmilk. Always do things that you are happy with,” advises Ms Mei Siew.
She adds that breastfeeding is an excellent gift to a baby.
Image courtesy: iStock
“Find out as much as possible about breastfeeding. Stay positive and visualise that you have plenty of milk, sitting comfortably breastfeeding your baby in your arms. Have positive people around you and support you in your breastfeeding journey,” she says.
Adding, “Do skin-to-skin daily until 4-6 weeks when the breastmilk is more regular. Start feeding your baby in the hospital 8-12 times a day when the baby has early feeding cues. Do seek help if the baby has short feedings or not latching in the early days of breastfeeding.”
Enjoy the breastfeeding journey!
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