Breast really is best! Breast milk is a one-of-a-kind, all-natural substance with beneficial properties and complex components that babies–and scientists–can’t get enough of. We know the amount of information out there on breast milk and its benefits for moms and babies can be overwhelming. That’s why we did the work for you and outlined everything you need to know about breast milk below.
Your Breast Milk is More than Great Nutrition
Mom’s liquid gold is more than just a yummy and nutritious staple to help your baby grow. Breast milk is completely natural and designed for infant digestion, so it is easy on your newborn’s sensitive stomach and reduces instances of diarrhea. This wonderful, all-natural substance contains a balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins that meet the unique nutritional needs of growing babies. In addition to these dietary components, breast milk also has bioactive components specifically designed to help your little one fight bacteria, viruses, and infections. Additionally, breastfed babies may grow into children with fewer instances of allergies, asthma, childhood cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and more.
Your Milk Will Change
If your breast milk seems to be changing, there’s no need to panic! Breast milk is designed to adapt over time to meet the changing needs of your child. For example, your first few days of feeding or pumping will produce milk, known as colostrum, that helps your newborn transition to life outside of the womb. It is packed with protein and other nutrients designed to fight infection and promote healthy digestion. Your breast milk changes over the next few weeks, becoming transitional and then mature milk as your baby continues to grow. The progressive evolution of your breast milk over the first few weeks after delivery is naturally designed to meet the developing needs of your little one.
While your breast milk continues to change noticeably over time, you also produce breast milk with unique properties at each feeding. At the beginning of a feeding, your body releases foremilk which is high in volume but low in calories to help your baby feel full and eliminate immediate hunger. As the feeding progresses, you will produce hindmilk, which is low in volume and high in nutrients and calories to help your baby grow. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding through cold and flu season, your body will also produce antibodies that add an extra layer of protection to help your baby stay healthy.
Your Diet Affects Your Breast Milk
Although breastfeeding is a natural process, your body works extremely hard to produce enough milk to keep your new child full. You need to consume around 400-500 additional calories and at least ten 8 ounce glasses of water each day to make up for what you’re working off when you are breastfeeding. It’s also important to take a multivitamin to make up for whatever nutrients you aren’t getting in your diet. Ask your doctor about the best breastfeeding vitamins or supplements for you!
Remember that baby eats whatever mommy eats! Be sure to stick to a balanced diet full of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats so your baby gets the most nutritious breast milk. The color and flavor of your breast milk may even change based on what you eat!
Proper Breast Milk Storage is Essential
Breastfeeding is not easy, and you won’t want a drop of breast milk to go to waste. That’s why proper breast milk storage is so important. According to the CDC, freshly pumped breast milk can stay at room temperature for up to four hours, in a refrigerator for up to four days, and in a freezer for about six months. Your breast milk must be stored in an airtight container to ensure the safety and quality of breast milk for your little one.
Your Baby Will Set the Pace of Feedings
When it comes to breastfeeding, your child can set the pace of feedings depending on their needs. Feeding on demand instead of on a rigid schedule is better for meeting your baby’s evolving hunger needs and increases your milk supply. It is especially important to let your little one set the pace of feedings, so your body is ready for the inevitable growth spurts in the first few weeks. Your little one may initiate cluster feedings, where the baby feeds for a short period of time but more frequently throughout the day. Your baby’s instincts during these cluster feedings promote an increase in your milk supply to make sure you produce enough milk to support your child’s crucial growth spurts.
Your baby will also develop distinct signs when they are hungry and when they are full. Crying is one of the later signs of hunger, so be aware of early indicators such as restlessness, rooting, putting a hand to the mouth, or smacking the lips to avoid a breakdown. During a feeding, your child will also let you know when they get full. If your baby turns their head away from your breast or bottle, closes their mouth, or relaxes their hands, your little one may be done eating. If your baby seems to get full after feeding from just one breast, it’s important to pump from your other breast to promote steady milk supply and to make sure none of your breast milk goes to waste!
Though the benefits of breast milk are numerous, breastfeeding is easier said than done. Feedings every few hours can be exhausting for new moms, but the use of a breast pump may take some of the pressure off. Is your little one having trouble latching to the breast? Want to pass the baton to your partner for some nighttime feedings? Heading back to work but want to continue breastfeeding? A breast pump is your solution!
Pumps for Mom is here to streamline the process of getting a free breast pump through your health insurance. We have been providing insurance-covered breast pumps for moms across the country for over 15 years, and our expertise can’t be matched. With our simple qualification form, you can immediately see what breast pumps you qualify for through your insurance. We do the legwork to make sure your ideal breast pump gets to you as soon as possible and at the lowest possible cost. We would love to work with you and your insurance to provide your ideal breast pump, so you and your baby can experience the joys of breastfeeding!