A Bit on Breastfeeding

I learned these from the book “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn,” by Simkin, Whalley and Keppler.  If you enjoy reading, I would recommend this hefty over 400 page book for women early in their pregnancy.  It is comprehensive and loaded with information pertinent to the pre, peri, and postnatal periods (as the title might suggest). However, if having gobs of information in your head isn’t for you during this important phase of your life journey, a doula is always a wealth of knowledge and a terrific support.  We may just be able to scrounge one up somewhere around here…

Here are just a couple of items that were new points to me from this book, you may also find them interesting.

“Breast milk and formula provide nutrients for the baby’s gain in weight and length.  Breast milk, however is the only source of nutrients that also contribute to the rapid and healthy growth of the baby’s brain and nervous system, the maturation of his digestive system, and the development of his immune system.”

On a more lighthearted note, did you know those small bumps on a female’s areola have a name and purpose?  They are known as Montgomery glands, and they secrete a lubricating substance that keeps the nipple supple and helps to prevent infection.

Another testament to the miraculous connection between and mother and her child: a mother’s milk changes in composition to suit her baby’s needs.  In kind, a premature baby’s mother’s milk is different in substance vs. a term baby’s mother’s milk.

And speaking of the composition of milk, here are some of the major components: water, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins and minerals.

It is very important to maintain a nutritious diet while breastfeeding, as with a weak diet your nutritient stores may become depleted.  Drink fluids to keep hydrated; contrary to popular belief, fluids will keep you from feeling thirsty, but are not directly associated with producing more milk.

These are just a few interesting tidbits.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of initiating contact with a lactation consultant (preferably an IBCLC; Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant), or with a breastfeeding support group before your baby is born so that if or when you encounter breastfeeding difficulties or have questions about nursing your newborn you already have someone whom you trust that you can call.  You can always ask a care provider, a doula, or your nurse for referrals for these resources.

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