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Breastfeeding Primer

Are you getting enough milk? What can you do to improve milk production?

One of the most common worries amongst breastfeeding mothers is whether they are getting enough milk. The best indicator for this is your baby's weight gain. If your baby is not gaining enough weight, and is not passing enough stools or urine, you could speak to your paediatrician, and could consider supplementing breastmilk with formula feed.

How much milk has my baby had?

A great way to gauge how much milk your baby has had would be to weigh your baby before a feed, and after a feed. A regular weighing scale will not do - you will need to invest in a digital scale that will show your baby's weight in grams. If you have a lot of milk you will feel frequent let downs of milk and your flow will be fast. Your baby's mouth will often be full of milk, even when she breaks the latch. You don't then have to worry if she is getting enough.

How can I increase milk flow?

If you feel you have inadequate milk supply, eat fenugreek seeds and broken wheat. Also, keep expressing to step up milk flow production. Get a breast pump to help you express milk regularly. Feed your baby this expressed milk with a bottle or with a feeding cup. At times, paediatricians don't recommend feeding very young babies with a bottle as doing so may cause nipple confusion. You could then use a feeding cup or a pallada as it is often called in India. Palladas are especially recommended for premature babies as premature babies find it difficult to suck. In addition, preemies gain weight more rapidly when the milk is directly being fed to them, as they don't lose energy sucking.

Breast milk or formula?

Don't worry if you find that you are not producing enough milk and may need to give your baby a few formula feeds in a day. Remember, formula feeds will only help him gain weight faster. However, with regard to boosting your child's immunity, there is no substitute to breast milk. Breastmilk has numerous antibodies to boost immunity that are not present in formula feeds, and is very easy to digest. You will rarely have to worry about constipation, since breastfed babies' motions are usually completely normal. It doesn't matter if your baby passes stools ten times a day, or once in three days.

Thus, breast milk is definitely the best option for your baby, so it's best to stick to that, unless you have no milk - in which case formula feed is a pretty good option. A number of mothers don't get breast milk, and their babies have only formula. Then there are those mothers that choose not to breastfeed their babies. Thus there are millions of babies who grow up on formula and thrive.

However, if you are formula feeding your baby, be very particular about sterilising bottles and nipples. Gastroenteritis is one of the most common illnesses amongst babies, generally caused due to improper sterilisation. Remember, your baby's immune system is not fully developed, and if you are not breastfeeding your baby, it will take a little longer to get developed.


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