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So What is Breastfeeding?

Learn what breastfeeding is

What IS breastfeeding? I am going to start with some breastfeeding basics. Being well-informed was half of my breastfeeding success. Let's get started...

Breastfeeding (also known as lactation and nursing) is the process of feeding a child with breast milk directly from the breast. This definition, however, only covers physiological part of it.

For me, breastfeeding was also fun and rewarding time to bond with my son. The one-on-one time that was only ours and no one else's!

How about you? What is breastfeeding for YOU? Click here to share your thoughts with me!

Delivery and Milk Production

Milk production starts by the third trimester of the pregnancy. By the end of the pregnancy a woman is ready to become a breastfeeding mother. Here is the lactation mechanism after delivery:

  • Loss of placenta and declined hormone production by ovaries stop blocking hormone prolactin release.
  • Under effect of prolactin and oxytocin mammary glands produce initial milk - colostrum. Typically by day 3-4 after delivery as the latest. Colostrum is thin and yellowish. It contains protein and antibodies to boost baby's immunity. It also helps newborn's digestive system.
  • Day 4-10 – nursing mother produces transition milk. It is thin, watery and sweet. It contains proteins, sugar and minerals.
  • Day 10 – breastfeeding moms produce regular breast milk. It is thick and creamy.
  • Baby latches on, milk let-down occurs (let-down reflex differs woman to woman: many nursing moms experience let-down just thinking about their babies; in others only actual baby sucking causes milk release).
  • Suckling or nursing stimulates lactation: the more a mother feeds a baby the more milk comes in. Demand insures supply.

Got Milk?

Now when the question "What is Breastfeeding?" is out of the way, let's talk about first days of your breastfeeding experience.

In reality, a lot of other (non-physiological) factors come into play during this crucial time. Feeling tired, depressed, concerned about your milk supply, unsure - just to name a few - may all overwhelm you during this time.

I was extremely worried that my milk would never come in. Have you thought about it too? Well, no need to! The true milk insufficiency only happens in 3%-8% women. It is real, but it is very rare!

If you haven't done so, visit "How to Breastfeed" section. It consists of three articles (Part1, Part2, Part3) that get you ready for the process. Important information. Emotional support. A list of breastfeeding must-haves. Everything you need is there.

If you are in day 2 after delivery and there is no sign of colostrum in your breasts, talk to a lactation specialist. There is always one in the hospital and they usually come to see you next day after the delivery.

If they don't come visit, ask your nurse to arrange for it. Discuss your concerns with a hospital lactation consultant. This is your best chance to ask questions at no cost.

If you are already home with no lactation specialist at hand, check the list below. It is most likely that you need to change one of the following to boost your milk production:

  • Position your baby correctly. Click here for instructions on how to do this.
  • Make sure your baby latches on correctly. Read about latching on here.
  • Do not supplement with water or formula.
  • Do not give your baby pacifier (until lactation stabilizes).
  • Let your baby nurse as often as possible even if there is still no milk. Baby sucking stimulates milk production.
  • Let your baby nurse for as long as he/she wants even if there is still no milk.
  • Do not let anyone put any type of pressure on you. Ignore every negative and discouraging comment. You are on a mission. And only you and your baby matter.

And remember – relax and smile. Look at your baby and smile again.

Successful breastfeeding is only 50% of physiology, the other 50% are your emotions.

Feel happy. Sleep when your baby sleeps.

Acknowledge that you just gave birth to a miracle. You are a great woman, and will become the best mom for your little one!

So after all: what is breastfeeding for YOU? Can't wait to see what you say! Click here to share.

› What is Breastfeeding?

What Is Breastfeeding For YOU And Why?
Pick Top One And Share It Here!

Is it pleasure, a necessity, a mother's duty, a feeding method? You name it!

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