Initiation of Breastfeeding
Lactation is breastfeeding (in simple terms).
Breastfeeding begins with the formation of lactation dominance (respectively, long before breastfeeding begins in the physical sense).
Lactation dominance is a woman’s strong belief that breastfeeding is superior to artificial breastfeeding and that she will be able to breastfeed her baby despite any difficulties.
Approximately 30-60 minutes after the birth of the baby is his first laying on the breast of the mother. Before he takes the nipple in his mouth for the first time he needs to pass the first stage of adaptation to the changed external conditions (to get used to breathing through the lungs, to get acquainted with the new atmospheric pressure, and to live a kind of “rest phase” after the labor of birth).
The Resting Phase is a period of 30-60 minutes after the baby is born.
- The baby experiences the pleasure of the work done and the triumph of birth while resting on mom’s breast (being close to mom is the ultimate reward of birth);
- involves imprinting and smooching.
Imprinting is the imprinting by a mom of her baby and by the baby of its mom (“I see you”).
- It occurs right after birth: the newborn lies on mom’s belly (skin to skin), mom strokes and warms it with her hands;
- At a natural birth, imprinting begins with the position “mom is higher, the baby is lower” (this is one of the first factors in fixing the leading role of mom in relation to the newborn. Mom knows everything, mom is higher in status, and mom can competently direct the child where he or she needs to go).
Smoothing is the touching and stroking of the newborn’s body by the mother.
- It is used to convey tactile information from mom to baby: “I’m here for you, I’m your mom, you’re safe;
- part of an unconscious program to check if the baby is okay;
- triggering an integral part of lactation – the release of the hormone oxytocin (oxytocin promotes the unimpeded movement of the colostrum through the ducts and facilitates the baby’s first lactation);
- if, due to the specifics of childbirth, the mother and the baby did not have the stroking stage, then to compensate and make up for this experience, it is possible to recreate stroking at any age (stroke the baby’s head and back as often as possible).
Placental birth is the process of the afterbirth, which occurs 15-60 minutes after the baby is born (there are exceptions).
- The mother places the baby at the breast after the birth of the placenta (afterbirth), and at this time the baby’s blood continues to return through the umbilical cord, which at the time of birth goes to the placenta. In parallel with this process, the child’s lungs get accustomed to the new atmospheric conditions, and the child smoothly transitions from umbilical cord breathing to lung breathing).
The awakening phase is when the baby is strong enough to trigger the breast search reflex.
- The mother gives the baby suckles from both breasts when the baby shows the first signs of the breast search reflex (part of imprinting and the opportunity to capture each other on both sides).
The first time a baby is put to the breast:
The first time is a signal to the mother’s body that the baby is born, alive, and needs to be nourished, and it is also a signal to the baby that the mother is aware of his/her needs.
- A couple of drops of colostrum is enough for the baby to be fully nourished (the whole organism of the baby at this moment is actively regulating its work in the new atmospheric conditions. His kidneys are not yet ready to process a large volume of fluid, so a couple of drops of colostrum completely saturate his body with nutrients and information for each individual organ to process);
- lasts approximately 20-40 minutes;
- milk is initiated by the baby’s irritation/stimulation of the nerve endings in the nipple and areola;
- transmission of impulses along the nerve pathways after 30-40 seconds leads to increased blood flow in the mammary gland;
- the nipple straightens and increases in volume, its sphincters relax, and the smooth muscles of the ducts contract;
- the milk begins to move to meet the sucking force and the pressure relief created by the baby;
- during this phase, the baby easily sucks the colostrum that has accumulated in the ducts (during pregnancy);
- after 1-4 minutes of suckling, in the posterior lobe of the mother’s pituitary gland, the secretion of oxytocin increases (due to nerve impulses), which stimulates the intracellular secretion of colostrum/milk and contracts the myoepithelial cells, pushing the colostrum/milk, rich in various components, from the alveoli into the ducts.
The relaxation phase is sleeping at the breast after the first breastfeeding.
- When the baby has had enough of the milk, he falls asleep at the breast for the first time;
- the baby learns that he/she can always relax, eat, and rest safely at the breast;
- it is advisable for the mother to sleep with the baby to recover.
In the case of cesarean section (CS) surgery: The mother should start stimulating the nipples.
- the mother should start stimulating the nipples to give the body a signal that the baby has been successfully delivered (if the baby is not close to the mother);
- put the baby to the breast as soon as the first encounter takes place.
Initiation of Breastfeeding
Initiation of breastfeeding is a critical step in providing newborns with essential nutrition and promoting their overall health and development. Here are the key steps and considerations for initiating breastfeeding:
- Early Initiation: Breastfeeding should ideally begin within the first hour after birth. This is often referred to as the “golden hour” and is a crucial time when a newborn is alert and eager to feed.
- Skin-to-Skin Contact: Placing the baby skin-to-skin with the mother immediately after birth has numerous benefits. It helps regulate the baby’s temperature, heart rate, and breathing. It also facilitates the release of hormones that encourage bonding and milk production.
- Latching: A proper latch is essential for effective breastfeeding. The baby’s mouth should cover as much of the areola (the dark area around the nipple) as possible, not just the nipple. This ensures that the baby can access the milk ducts and feed effectively.
- Positioning: Finding a comfortable and supportive position for both the mother and baby is crucial. Common breastfeeding positions include the cradle hold, football hold, and side-lying position. Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you and your baby.
- Hold and Support: Support the baby’s head and neck with one hand while holding the breast with the other hand. This helps guide the baby’s mouth to the breast and ensures a good latch.
- Breast Compression: Compressing the breast gently while the baby is latched can help increase milk flow and ensure the baby receives enough milk.
- Frequency: Newborns have small stomachs and need to feed frequently, typically every 2-3 hours in the early days. Feeding on demand is recommended, meaning you should feed your baby whenever they show hunger cues, such as rooting or sucking on their hands.
- Burping: Burp your baby between breasts or after feeding to release any swallowed air and reduce the risk of discomfort or colic.
- Pain and Discomfort: It’s normal for breastfeeding to be uncomfortable initially, but it should not be painful. If you experience persistent pain, nipple damage, or other issues, seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.
- Maintain Hydration and Nutrition: Breastfeeding mothers should drink plenty of water and maintain a balanced diet to ensure an adequate milk supply.
- Support and Education: Seek support from healthcare professionals, lactation consultants, and support groups if you encounter challenges or have questions about breastfeeding. Education and support can be invaluable in helping you succeed with breastfeeding.
Remember that breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mother and baby, and it may take time and practice to establish a comfortable and effective breastfeeding routine. Don’t hesitate to seek help and support if you encounter difficulties, as there are many resources available to assist you in your breastfeeding journey.