Breast Milk

Breast Milk

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Are you breastfeeding your baby?

Did you know that by breastfeeding and not using formula you are doing your baby a huge health favour? Breast milk contains easily digestible fats (which give your baby energy) as well as cholesterol, an important component of brain and nerve tissue. Breast milk also gives baby a full range of easy-to-digest vitamins, minerals and proteins that protect its immune system, especially against diarrhoea, infections and food allergies.
First-time moms are often concerned that their babies may not be getting enough milk, or that they’ll have a problem feeding when they go back to work. If you’re one of those moms, the good news is that you probably have no need to worry. The chances are that your baby is getting all the milk it needs. And if you have to return to work, your doctor or nursing sister can show you how to express your breast milk for the caregiver to feed to your baby.
If the answer is yes, then congratulations! Breast is definitely best when it comes to feeding your baby, especially in the first year.
Here’s the information you need to find out if your baby is thriving on your breast milk…  
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Your baby is getting enough milk if:

  • Your breasts feel softer after nursing because your baby has emptied some of the milk that was making them firm.
  • After a feed, your baby seems relaxed and satisfied.
  • Your baby produces at least 6–8 very wet cloth nappies or at least 5 very wet disposable nappies (which hold more liquid than cloth) in 24 hours. The urine should be odourless and pale in colour.
  • A young baby will usually have three or more soft or runny bowel movements each day for several weeks.
  • An older baby is likely to have fewer bowel movements than this.
  • Your baby is gaining weight.
  • Your baby has a healthy skin colour and muscle tone.
  • If you gently press your baby’s skin, it should spring back into place.
  • Your baby is alert and reasonably contented and does not want to feed constantly.
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You may need to boost your milk supply if:

  • Your baby loses weight. If your baby doesn’t start regaining its birth weight after five days, or if at any time after that starts losing rather than gaining weight, you may need to increase your milk supply.
  • Your baby wets fewer than eight cloth or six disposable nappies in a 24-hour period.
  • Your baby is producing small, dark stools after about 5 days.
  • If your baby’s urine is very dark, like the colour of apple juice, it may be a sign that it is short on fluids.
  • Your baby is fussy or lethargic and falls asleep as soon as you put it to your breast.
  • Feeding consistently takes longer than an hour, and your baby just doesn’t seem satisfied.
  • Your breasts don’t feel any softer after nursing.
  • You need more sucking stimulation. A sleepy or jaundiced baby may not nurse enough to empty your breasts adequately.
  • Nursing stimulates milk production. Try to get in a minimum of eight feeds in 24 hours.
  • Offer both breasts at each feed.
  • Massage each breast gently as you nurse. This can help the rich, higher kilojoule hind milk let down more efficiently.
  • Look after your health. If you are sick or stressed your milk supply may be low. Birth control methods containing oestrogen may decrease your supply as well. Eat well and drink 6–8 glasses of liquid a day.
  • Sore or cracked nipples don’t help with breastfeeding. Speak to your doctor or nursing sister about creams that will help.
  • Moms who have a Caesarean birth may need extra time to recover before they can hold and nurse their new baby. This may cause a slight delay in the milk coming in, but once it does, moms who deliver via C-section produce just as much milk as the mothers who deliver vaginally.
  • If you produce more milk than your baby needs, consider donating it to the South African Breast-milk Reserve for other babies who have no access to mother’s milk. The association is always grateful to its ‘awesome donors’ – details at

Medical References

Further Reading: 1. 2. 3. This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicine Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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