Article reviewed by Ramona Pirtea, lactation and lactation consultant International Certificate (IBCLC) within the ProMAMA Center.
A healthy baby knows best when he is hungry, how much he has to suck and when he is in the village. More and more specialists recommend breastfeeding on demand, in order to adequately respond to the needs of the child. Breastfeeding on demand prevents obesity, respects the needs of the baby and does not require the consumption of a certain quantity, but only as much as is necessary for his age or weight.
What does breastfeeding mean?
Demand-based breastfeeding is currently considered the ideal way to ensure optimal baby development. The concept of breastfeeding "on demand" involves giving your child to suck on the breast, whenever he shows signs of hunger, regardless of whether it is day or night, without a preset feeding schedule.
According to the most recent edition of the Prevention Guide "Problems of nutrition, growth and development in children: eating 0 -2 years, disorders of growth and development", issued by the National Institute of Public Health, the duration of a suction should be shorter for 30 minutes. Also, we must keep in mind that in the first 8 weeks, the baby must be breastfed at least 8 times in 24 hours, including at night.
"Around the age of one month, the baby will make a program for himself, which he will later adapt to his new growth needs." - Ramona Pirtea IBCLC - Consulted in lactation and lactation international certificate.
Advantages of breastfeeding on demand
The baby is the happiest when it is in the breast of the mother. By breastfeeding him on request, he satisfies the need to feel near him, reinforcing his sense of confidence that he has developed towards you, still from the womb. In addition, breastfeeding on demand ensures the best food there can be: breast milk.
Here I am the most important benefits of breast milk:
- does not require the digestive system of the baby, still in development, because it is easily digested;
- is rich in organisms, which protects it from infections and diseases, both during breastfeeding and after, during childhood and in adulthood;
- even when you get sick, the antibodies secreted by your body are transmitted to the baby, during breastfeeding, preventing it from a possible contagious disease;
- it is the only milk in the sterile world, which can be drunk raw;
- the baby sucks only the amount of milk he needs;
- breast milk decreases the risk of developing allergies, later in childhood;
- the naturally nourished baby, on request, loses less weight and recovers more quickly the grams he loses in motherhood or during periods when he is ill;
- the effort that the baby makes under suction helps the muscles and bones of the face to grow properly.
Since the composition of breast milk contains more protective factors (high colostrum concentration), breastfeeding reduces the risk for:
- gastrointestinal infections and respiratory and ear infections;
- cardiovascular diseases;
- type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus;
- atopy, asthma, celiac disease and lipid disorders;
Also, On demand breastfeeding has many benefits for you as a mother:
- you waste less time with breastfeeding than with feeding with the bottle;
- breastfeeding stimulates your uterus to return to its initial position, before becoming pregnant;
- offers you protection against breast and ovarian cancer;
- is a very good contraceptive method for the first 6 months (98%). As long as you breastfeed exclusively, with meals and at night;
- breastfeeding decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes;
- helps you save money, because breast milk is always available, is easy to handle, hygienic and is always at the right temperature;
- the secretion of breast milk is made by energy consumption, which means fewer kilos.
7 things you need to know about breastfeeding on demand
There are many myths about breastfeeding that have been contradicted, through concrete data and scientific arguments.
Breast size doesn't matter
If you have very small breasts, this does not mean that you will not have milk after birth. There are many mothers who, without having big breasts, enjoy a consistent milk production. The reason? The mammary gland is about the same size as all women. The size of the breast is given by the fatty tissue.
Your baby cries that he wants to breastfeed not only when he is hungry. He can suck for a few minutes, just because he was thirsty or able to fall asleep, overcome a pain, a scar, etc. As long as the baby is properly weighed, you should not give up breastfeeding as many times as you want.
Without food restrictions
Except for alcohol and drinks with a lot of caffeine, a breastfeeding mom can eat whatever her heart desires. But if you keep in mind the importance of healthy eating, it is good to adopt a varied and balanced diet. The only foods you should avoid are the ones you know can cause some gastric discomfort.
Breastfeeding on demand supports milk production
A strong emotional shock can lead to a dramatic decrease in milk secretion. It is very important to maintain yourself during this period and not to accuse yourself of things you cannot control. Even if your milk is not enough for the baby at first, for different reasons, continue to breastfeed it on request. Thus, the baby will clear the breast more often and your milk secretion will increase.
Do not give her baby milk powder if you still have breast milk
When it seems to you that your baby has not saturated, move it to the other breast to make sure it has emptied both of its milk. If you offer him milk bottle powder after sucking, instead of moving it from one breast to another until it is saturated, do nothing but increase the break between meals. And this is harder for the milk powder to digest.
At the same time, you can compromise the secretion of milk. This is stimulated precisely by emptying the breast. If this does not happen, the body understands that the baby does not need so much natural food and the secretion of breast milk begins to decrease quantitatively.
A baby who has caught the "taste" of the bottle may have difficulty getting the right breast and extracting the milk. The effort to suck will agitate him, preventing him from feeding properly. So you risk entering a vicious circle.
If you think that the baby does not get the milk he receives in the breast, if you miss the nipples during breastfeeding, if, for one reason or another, received a bottle and now refuses the breast or if other situations and questions arise, call with confidence to specialized help. The International Certified Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Consultants (IBCLC) are the ones who can answer your questions and overcome such situations.
A crying baby never spoils
When your baby cries, he does nothing but express his needs: he is hungry, he is thirsty, he is sleepy, he has a certain discomfort or, simply, he wants to feel protected. There is no cuddly baby, a cuddling baby or a spoiled baby. These are nothing but false myths.
During the intrauterine life, the baby develops a strong connection with the mother, which is why she feels the need, and after birth, to sit as much in her arms, where she feels safe.
Drug treatment does not necessarily require stopping breastfeeding on demand
Following an antibiotic treatment in most cases allows continued breastfeeding, even if the leaflet mentions that it is not recommended during breastfeeding. You can ask a lactation consultant (IBCLC) who will tell you exactly the risks to the baby.
What to do when breastfeeding on demand becomes difficult or impossible
If the baby has no medical problem that prevents him from sucking - such as the existence of a short lingual brake, breastfeeding should not be difficult. Of course, you need to document yourself beforehand, in order to help your baby learn to catch the breast properly.
The correct position for breastfeeding
When the breastfeeding position is correct, the baby is properly nourished, and the mother will no longer complain of pain, nipple damage or breast redness. According to the same Prevention Guide, which you can download from here, a correct breastfeeding supposes that:
- a large part of the mammary areola is in the baby's mouth;
- the child's mouth should be wide open;
- the lower lip of the child is to be bent outwards;
- the baby's cheek to reach the breast;
- the child's head and body should be aligned;
- the baby is held close to the mother's body;
- the whole body of the child should be supported.
Which are the signs of proper breastfeeding? The baby's nose is free and you will hear when it swallows. Also, the arms and hands of the child are relaxed, the lips are moist and they let go of the breast alone when it is the village. At the same time, after a correct and efficient breastfeeding, the mother feels her breasts emptied.
To make the breastfeeding experience as enjoyable as possible, take good care of your breasts. Before each meal, wash your hands with soap and water, and wash your breasts once a day, in the shower, but only with water. Naturally, in the areola there are some small glands that secrete an oily substance, with the role of protection against pathogens in the environment.
If you experience "milk rage", you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as fever, very strong and painful breasts and blocked breast channels. Apply to each breast compressed with hot water for 5 to 10 minutes before each breastfeeding. After sucking the baby, apply cold water compresses to keep the inflammation under control. If necessary, you can apply pharmaceutical preparations recommended by the doctor. Do not use the breast pump if you are staying with your baby for at least 6 months. This excessively stimulates milk production and can lead to hyperlactation.
Did you breastfeed your child on request? Do you consider this experience a challenge or something pleasant? Tell us your experience!
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