Can anyone breast feed? The answer is yes.
Does everyone have the same shaped breasts and nipples? No, having different size breasts and nippes does not mean you cannot breastfeed your baby.
My nipples are flat! The baby actually suckles on your breast and not the nipple.
There are awesome benefits for both you and your baby if you breast feed (Riordan & Wambach, 2009), here are some listed:
- Promotes bonding between you and your baby.
- Helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnant state quicker by releasing oxytocin also called the love hormone. (Michel Odent, Sarah Buckley) when your baby suckles.
- Builds up bone density to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.
- Reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
- Possible quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight.
- Reduces the risk of asthma and respiratory infections.
- Reduces gastrointestinal infections.
- Protects against SUD's (Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome).
- Helps protect against allergies.
- Possible higher IQ scores.
- Less ear infections.
For the first three days following the birth of your baby, you will produced colostrum (in fact you may leak some colostrum in the last trimester of pregnancy, this is normal but do not try to express any from your breasts, it may lead to premature labour). Colostrum is rich in protein and helps coat the lining of your baby's gut to protect against bacteria, illnesses and viruses.
The mature milk usually comes in on day three following birth, although sometimes it can be delayed if you have had a caesarean section. Because of the composition of breastmilk, your baby does not need any extra water, fluids or solids for 6 months, that is because your milk is uniquely produced for your baby and in the exact proportions your baby needs.
Know that you will produce enough breast milk if, you allow your baby 'free access' to the breast. In other words, let him feed when he wants for as long as he wants. The suckling on your breast stimulates the release of hormones to build up your milk supply. You have no rules and regulations about when you eat, so dont expect baby to follow any. Enjoy your baby and breastfeeding - it really is a wonderful time for both you and baby.
Speak to your midwife about benefits of breastfeeding, it really is best for you and baby. I have put some weblinks to breast feeding organisations.
Riordan, J., & Wambach, K. (2009). Breastfeeding and human lactation (4th Ed). Jones and Bartlett:Boston
'The Love hormone'
Breastfeeding and where to get helphttp://www.midwife.org.nz/index.cfm/1,78,0,0,html/For-Women