Updated: Aug 15, 2018
Benefits of breastfeeding
Every parent wants the best for his/her baby and breastmilk is the best gift that keeps on giving.
Most mummies would want to breastfeed their newborn. They will try their best to follow a three-hourly routine of expressing breast milk, latching their babies, drinking a lot of soup and taking power naps to build their milk supply during their maternity leave.
Breastfeeding offers many social, economic, nutritional and supplemental, as well as developmental advantages to both infants and mothers. Here are more details.
Protection, immunity and hygiene
The ingredients found in breastmilk support the healthy brain growth development of babies. The fatty substances in breast milk as DHA (docasahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) promote more protection in neurons, which help keep infants healthier as their immune systems mature.
Breastmilk also contains antibodies and antimicrobials that protect the infant against many common infections. Breastfed babies show reduced incidence and severity of the allergic symptoms such as eczema and asthma, respiratory, ear and urinary tract diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion and other gastrointestinal conditions during the early stage of growth.
Breastmilk contains a substance called cholecystokinin, which relaxes the child and makes its easier and quieter to put him/her to sleep. While breastfeeding, the baby produces cholecystokinin that aids in digestion.
Mother’s milk is always convenient, sterile, safe, fresh, easy to digest and available at the right temperature. During breastfeeding, the baby is stimulated by the mother’s touch and scent. It also promotes closeness between the mother and child. A baby nursing at the breast can see his/her mother’s face, allowing eye contact and visual communication between the two. The mother attend to her baby by touching his/her hands and talking and singing to the baby as she nurses.
Challenges in breastfeeding
Many common challenges to breastfeeding include insufficient milk supply, mastitis, clogged ducts, and slow let-down. It is important to unblock acupressure points to remove blockages and restore blood flow associated with the let-down of milk and to increase milk supply. Massaging the acupressure points can improve the general wellbeing of the mummy, improve her energy levels, provide deep relaxation, balance hormones, reduce pain around breasts and boost blood circulation.
Childbirth brings great changes to a woman’s reproductive organs and her body. The functions of the meridians can be easily adjusted during the recuperative period. In order to ensure sufficient breast milk production, which is vital to the baby’s healthy growth and the mother’s, it is important to provide a timely diagnosis and treatment once postpartum hypogalactia (deficiency in Qi that causes dropped milk supply) is discovered. In Chinese medicine, deficiency of qi and blood results in insufficient milk production and liver qi stagnation causes coagulation or obstruction of breast milk. Other causes of low breast milk supply are listed below.
1. Poor circulation of Qi
For some women, the Qi, blood and even breast milk are present, although they experience full breasts and hard lumps around them and at the underarm areas. This indicates that the breast milk is not flowing well and mastitis may occur.
Unblocking acupressure points to remove blockages in milk darts can help encourage milk flow or increase milk supply. Acupressure point massage can provide faster milk supply and boost lactation quantities. Lactating mothers receiving acupressure points massage can also expect to regulate their nervous system, strengthen the spleen and stomach qi.
2. Low energy (Qi) and blood
Postpartum hypogalactia is often caused by weakness after delivery, which also tires most new mummies after child birth. When recovering from child birth, new mummies are trying to care for and nurse their babies, as their hormones go through changes. During pregnancy, nutrients would have gone to the baby, coupled with the demands of childbirth and blood loss, new mummies may not have what it takes in their bodies to make milk.
Chinese confinement herbs can be used to nourish and restore the energy levels of new mummies. These herbs can help in the faster and fuller recovery of new mummies. They can also consume bone broths, meaty soups and stews, lactation cookies with oats, brewer’s yeast and flaxseed, dark green vegetables, red meats, and protein-rich fish. It is also important to drink red dates tea or fennel tea often to stay hydrated.
3. Difficult emotions
Having a baby has the most enormous impact on a woman’s body and life. Such change can be overwhelming, as the new mummy undergoes hormonal changes, lacks sleep and has to meet the high demands of nursing her baby. Some women may also be recovering from a traumatic birth or realise the adjustments and new duties of being a new parent. These changes can affect breastmilk supply and the new mummy needs to relax to ensure supply.
She can also spend some time having skin-to-skin contact with her infant. She can take a bath with her baby, massage her infant or have him/her lie on her breast to bond. Love is key – she should spend quality time with her spouse, loved ones, mothers’ groups and have close friends at home for tea. She can also find time to do what she loves to stay cheerful. .