Breast milk, as we all know, is nature’s best compliment to children through mothers. A lot of research has been done to know the composition of breast milk, changes during the period, and how to ensure the supply of this golden milk till the requirement of the baby.
This amazing breast milk is the overflow of love for her child, a glance or stare & subsequent latching ensure the flow. It is well-known fact that breasts are never empty during the feeding process. A highly regulated process of milk production is hormone driven and no wonder happy breastfeeding offers many benefits.
Let’s see, how unique breast milk is.
Breast milk contains 87% of water, 1% protein, 4% lipid, and 7% carbohydrate, minerals & vitamins, different antibodies, and a good amount of microbiota. Simple as it sounds. isn’t it?
Every component of breast milk is studied extensively and the verdict is formed.
There is no substitute for breast milk.
The wordings written on infant formula feed are loud enough to convey, the fact, that even though, we know about the composition of breast milk, we can’t manufacture the same with same in factories, that’s why you will see a lot of breastfeeding centres in cities.
The simple reason is, that breast milk osmolality is, 300 to 400 mOsm/kg. The addition of minerals & vitamins, even in small volumes in other feeds can increase osmolality significantly and should be avoided if possible.
Osmolality is the measure of how soft and digestible the breast milk is. This 300 -400 mOsm breast milk has a great flowing capacity, so it oozes out of the breast, can easily be sucked by the baby and helps in building the body mass of the baby without any stomach problems.
There are many formulae feeds or milk substitutes available in the market but nothing matches the composition, functions & superiority of breast milk. For the 1st six months of life, every newborn needs breast milk as a sole diet.
Let’s see, which factors affect the breast milk supply and how to avoid it.
Remember the fact, its demand and supply of breast milk, breast stimulation has an important role to play.
- Stress-related anxiety often decreases milk production.
Initial few weeks of the newborn, the sleep cycles of the baby create a lot of stress. Adjusting the schedule along with newborn often release cortisol, a stress hormone. There are instances, where the mother had ample breast milk & become dry within a few days due to stress & related uncertainties.
You have struggled through the pregnancy blues and it’s time to adapt peacefully to the changes. This is the time, you should consult a lactation expert to guide you through these phases.
Involve the entire family in creating the breastfeeding positive ambience which is calming, easy-to-feed places with cushions, soothing music and participation of entire family members to make the event easy.
- Ease & Use of formula feed decreases the breast milk supply.
As we have learned that breast milk is produced based on demand & supply. It is of vital importance to allow the baby to latch on to both the breast to produce breast milk. Formula feed if introduced in between, can reduce the supply of breast milk considerably.
As the body gets the message that breast milk is not required, which results in reduced breast milk. As, formula feed is energy dense, and offers satiety to the baby, which induces sleep. The absence of latching often reverts the process of supply.
Pumping of breast milk can be done and kept handy, it can be refrigerated too. To maintain the hygiene of the instruments for pumping & bottles.
- Reducing the caloric intake of mothers reduces breast milk.
Dieting to reduce the fat or weight gained during pregnancy is often harmful to breast milk. Due to diet, the body doesn’t get enough nutrients which slows the process of breast milk.
Even maintaining hydration with water is good.
Carry water wherever you go & drink. Don’t encourage dieting during breastfeeding.
- Separation of mother and child (return to work, school);
7 This detachment is seen as an important factor that reduces the breast milk supply. You can overcome this by pumping the milk & keep it in the refrigerator. So even in absence of the nursing mother, a child gets the breast milk in time.
- Avoid falling sick as illnesses result in fatigue, diarrhoea, and lethargy which calls for the separation of the newborn and results in reduced breast milk.
- Mother who does not wake up (drugs, alcohol, medication)or Breast injury/bad breastfeeding position often results in reduced breast milk.
- Baby refusing the breast due to rapid flow, flat nipple or inability to latch on comfortably.
- Baby sleeping for long periods may be due to illness (jaundice, prematurity, certain medication);
The result of insufficient breast milk is, that a baby will be underweight and prone to common infections or seasonal changes. A child will be irritated and less playful.
Help at hand with various resources through family members, elders and expert lactation consultants are readily available. The beautiful lifetime gift of breastfeeding till the weaning is a much-cherished memory for the family & worth being practised for generations.