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Everything you need to know about breastfeeding 

Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for newborns: it provides a huge amount of benefits for the baby’s health and for the mother’s too

Breastfeeding is the most effective way to ensure child nutrition and health.According to recent surveys 2 out of 3 infants are not exclusively fed for the recommended 6 months. Breast Milk is safe and provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life. It continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life. 

However in the last decades, misleading marketing of breastmilk substitutes undermine the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires effort, organisation and time. However, when possible and effective, its benefits make it worth it!  In this article, we will review the advantages of breastfeeding

Though breastfeeding is always recommended, sometimes it is just not possible. Some people are unable to breastfeed for medical, personal and biological reasons and this is fine too! It is a personal choice, which should be respected either way.

What is breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding or nursing is when you feed your baby breast milk. Most medical associations recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice or water) for the first 6 months. After this period, they recommend the introduction of other foods while continuing to breastfeed for at least the first year. 

The first few days after birth, the mammary glands will produce a heavy, thick, dense liquid called colostrum. This first milk is concentrated on the ideal nutrients and fats to serve as the baby’s first meals, boost its nutrition and stimulate the newborn’s digestive tract. Gradually colostrum is naturally replaced with mature milk, which provides the proper nutrients and antibodies for the baby’s needs at this time.

How does breastfeeding work?

As the pregnancy progresses, the brain and hormones in the body signal the mammary glands, responsible for the production of milk, to get ready for the baby’s arrival. The action of suckling (mechanical stimulus) sends the message to your brain (which releases prolactin and oxytocin) that it is time to supply milk. Prolactin causes alveoli to produce milk. Oxytocin causes muscle contractions for the release of the milk through the ducts. Milk will be produced as long as it is stimulated by suction.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby?

  • Breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs! It contains vitamins, proteins & fat.
  • Breastfed babies have lower rates of allergies, asthma and respiratory issues.
  • Stimulates a healthy immune system and provides antibodies to help fight viruses and bacterias. 
  • Breastfed babies have lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome 
  • Breast milk is more easily digested than infant formula. 
  • The physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure, helping build a secure attachment.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother?

  • Breastfeeding offers the mom a moment to connect with her newborn. 
  • During breastfeeding a lot of hormones are released. These help your body recover after labour and help the uterus shrink back to its normal size. 
  • Producing milk consumes a lot of calories and energy: it is important to keep a balanced and healthy nutrition
  • Lower risk of cancer: cervical, ovarian, breast and uterine cancer have lower rates in women who have breastfeed. It is believed that the hormones released during breastfeeding play a protective role! 
  • Lowers the risk of osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. 
  • Breastfeeding is cost effective, healthy and safe, as well as practical.

Common problems with breastfeeding

  • Blocked milk ducts: Massaging or warming your breast before nursing can help.
  • Mastitis: is an infection in the breast that causes the tissue to inflame. It appears red and feels warm to the touch. Mastitis is caused by a blocked milk duct or bacteria. 
  • Nipple soreness and pain while nursing: usually goes away after the first few weeks. 
  • Latching difficulties: correct latching might be difficult to achieve. Talk to a lactation consultant to learn about proper positions. 
  • Low milk supply: increasing breastfeeding frequency and making sure you empty your breasts after each feeding, as well as consuming foods or herbs that can stimulate milk production.

How herbal plants can stimulate milk production

In Wilden, we believe in using the natural properties of plants to support the needs of different moments of our lives. To stimulate milk production, we have crafted an infusion made with finocchio (Foeniculum vulgare), anice verde (Pimpinella anisum), galega (Galega officinalis), limone (Citrus limone), alfalfa (Medicago sativa)  and verbena odorosa (Verbena odorosa). The synergetic effect of these galactogogues helps increase the quantity of milk produced, while offering a restorative effect for the mother.

In our blog, you will find other content that may interest you regarding breastfeeding and in particular the stimulation of milk. You can find them in our new column dedicated to the Wilden.herbals Health line.