Breastfeeding Your Baby
There’s no doubt that breastfeeding is natural and with the right support and information, most Mums can breastfeed successfully. However, the early days after the birth of your baby are a learning period for both Mum and baby and breastfeeding may not come easily or naturally.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are many benefits associated with breastfeeding for mother and baby.
Benefits for Mum
- Breastfeeding benefits mothers by helping the uterus return to its pre- pregnancy size faster than if she is not breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding also helps the Mum to return to pre- pregnancy weight more quickly and protects her against some cancers and osteoporosis.
- Breastfeeding is usually easy and convenient. Breastfed babies are very portable and you have instant, warm, ready-to-serve food wherever you go.
All great reasons – on top of the obvious benefits to your bub – to breastfeed!
Benefits for Baby
The benefits for breastfed babies are numerous.
- Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for at least the first six months of his life and continues to be the most important part of his diet throughout the first year, supplying half or more of his nutrients in his first year.
- The colostrum your baby receives in the first few days, and the breast milk that follows, contain antibodies that provide resistance to infection and builds up your baby’s immune system.
- The unique combination of fatty acids and other components in breast milk contribute to optimal brain development and may help minimise allergy problems. As your baby grows, your breast milk changes to meet his developing needs, so your breast milk is always the right food for your baby.
Expressing Breast Milk
Expressing breast milk for your baby
There are numerous reasons a mum may choose to express breast milk for her baby. Here are a just a few:
- To create a stock pile of breast milk for when mum returns to work.
- So mum can leave baby over a period when they would normally feed.
- Illness or an operation.
- To allow the nipples to recover after a period of being cracked.
- When baby has attachment problems; for example, in the case of cleft lip or palate.
- To allow dad the opportunity to take part in the feeding process and develop the same special bond.
- To allow mum to have an uninterrupted night of sleep.
Tips for Expressing Breast Milk
Here are our top ten tips for successfully expressing breast milk.
- Find somewhere quiet and comfortable to express
- Have plenty of water on hand as you may find you’re suddenly thirsty.
- Visualise yourself holding and feeding your baby.
- Have a photo of your baby to look at as you express.
- Use a breast pump that is easy to manage ie, a one handed manual breast pump or an electronic pump that is quiet and portable.
- Do not set yourself a time limit. Just relax and let the milk flow.
- Elevate your knees higher than your hips by using a foot rest.
- Express on one side while feeding your baby on the other side.
- Pump as often as your baby feeds, usually every three hours.
- To minimize distractions while pumping, try using your iPod with soothing music.
Storing Breast Milk after expressing
How long will freshly expressed breast milk keep for?
If you have sealed your freshly expressed breast milk in into a closed container it will keep for:
- 6-8 hours room temperature – 26C or lower. (refrigerate if possible)
- 3-5 days in back of refrigerator where it is coldest – 4C or lower
- 2 weeks in freezer compartment inside a refrigerator
- 3 months in freezer section of fridge with separate door
- 6 – 12 months in a deep freeze - minus 18C or lower
Previously frozen breast milk that has been thawed in the fridge but not warmed will keep for:
- 4 hours or less at room temperature (ie the next feed)
- 24 hours in refrigerator
- Do not refreeze
Breast milk that has been thawed outside of the refrigerator in warm water will keep for:
- For completion of feeding at room temperature
- 4 hours in refrigerator or until next feed
- Do not refreeze
If your baby has already begun feeding from a bottle containing your breast milk it will only remain fresh until your baby has completed the feed.
- Only for completion of feeding at room temperature – then discard
- Do not refrigerate – discard
- Do not refreeze - discard