Why breastfeeding and breast milk?

Breast milk ingredients

Breast milk is very useful for your baby because it is rich in nutrients, immune substances and bacteria that are good for your child’s digestive system. These useful substances make breast milk yellowish. Different feeding times, ingredients will vary too. And of course, the taste of the milk will change depending on what mother eats.

In addition, breast milk contains important components such as fatty acids, lactose, protein, vitamins, and minerals. These are key nutrients that your baby needs for their proper growth in the first period of life.

When does breast milk begin? When can you start breastfeeding?

Breast milk is first produced since the baby is still in the womb for the mother’s body to prepare and be ready when the baby opens his eyes to see the world. After birth, if the mother’s body is ready, you can start breast feeding immediately without waiting for breast engorgement.

Getting your baby to suckle from the breast is a signal to the mother’s body to start producing milk. Thus, the sooner a mother is breastfeeding after giving birth, the better for breast milk production.

Breast milk comes in three stages

It might surprise you to know that in the beginning, your breast milk changes by the week and each formulation is designed to meet your newborn’s precise needs:

Colostrum. At first, you’re producing a yellowy substance called colostrum. Colostrum helps provide your little one with the nutrients and antibodies he needs to fight infections in the early days. A little goes a long way, so baby only needs a few teaspoons at a time, which might be all you’re producing.

Transitional milk. Three to five days after birth, colostrum is replaced with transitional milk. Just as the names suggests, transitional milk — which looks like a mixture of orange juice and milk — is the stage between colostrum and mature breast milk.

Mature milk. Usually between the tenth day and second week, mature milk finally comes in. It’s white and slightly thinner than transitional milk, resembling watery skim milk, and can appear bluish at first.

What makes breastfeeding a good choice?

Advantages of breastfeeding for mothers

Breastfeeding helps the uterus get back to its normal place and state faster. It also prevents postpartum bleeding. Research shows that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer rates. Another important advantage is breastfeeding helps create the bond between mother and the baby. It’s a good time to build a very good mother-child relationship. It is also the most economical way.

Advantages of breastfeeding for the babies

Breastfeeding helps reduce the chances of children being over-nutrient or malnourished. This is because breast milk is full of nutrients and contains substances that act like vaccines that protect your baby from various pathogens, probiotics that stimulate intestinal function and lactose.

Breast milk consists of two parts: the first part that comes out when the baby starts sucking is clear milk called “foremilk”. This part is rich in lactose that helps with excretion. The second part is called “hind milk” which is high in fat. Thus, this part helps make your baby grow and gain weight with age.

Breast milk also helps reduce the risk of diabetes, ear inflammation and digestive tract symptoms for the babies.

How to breastfeed your baby correctly?

It’s important to make sure that you breastfeed your baby in a right position so that the baby can suckle and get fed properly. There are 4 positions for breastfeeding, though, you don’t need to learn all the positions but try to do it and choose only one or two poses that you feel most comfortable with, and your baby can suckle fully.

The important thing you need to know is to make sure that your baby suckles not only the nipple, but also the whole areola.

During breastfeeding, it’s recommended for the mothers to relax and give your body time to adjust. Because of that stress, it will affect the amount of milk. You also need to consume good food that helps enhance the production of breast milk such as banana blossoms, ginger juice, pumpkins, papayas, and drink plenty of water.

How can we know that the baby is fed enough?

You can observe your baby’s reactions including their sleeping time after feeding (at least 2-3 hours), their excretion and urination and the weight that should be growing according to their age.

However, you must note that newborn babies may lose their weight in their first week after birth. And after 7 days, if they are fed properly, their weight should be increasing.

Breast milk storage

Of course, the fresher the milk is, the better. However, if you need to pump out the milk and store it for later, below shows the period for milk storage.

  •  At room temperature (25 degrees Celsius), store up to 3 hours.
  • • Freezer in normal refrigerator at 4 degrees Celsius, keep up to 1 day.
  • • Freezer: 1 door refrigerator can store no more than 1 month and 2-door refrigerator up to 3 months.
  • • Freezer (for ice cream type) store up to about 6 months.

Direct breastfeed or breast pump and feed from the bottle, which is better?

Breastfeeding is cost-saving, simple and convenient. As newborn babies need to be fed at least 8 – 12 times a day. Thus, breastfeeding can help you safe a lot of time and money from cleaning and sterilizing process of the bottles many times a day.

Feeding from a bottle gives some convenience to the mom as she doesn’t have to do everything by herself. The father can help feed the baby while the mother pumps their breast milk or gets some rest.

Do I Need a Breast Pump?

If you intend to provide breast milk for your baby and might be away for periods of time (like going back to work), you will need a breast pump. But you do not necessarily need a breast pump to breastfeed. Breast pumping can be beneficial in a variety of different situations:

  •  They can relieve engorgement and prevent mastitis.
  • They allow you to provide breast milk when nursing isn't an option due to latching challenges or other complications.
  • Pumps give your partner or other caregivers the ability to help with feedings and enhance their bond with baby.
  • They help you build and maintain an adequate milk supply.
  • They allow you to do other things that require you to be away from baby for a few hours without missing a feeding.
  • They make it easier to maintain your breast pumping goals by providing the ability to pump once you return to work.
  • Many women enjoy the convenience of breast pumping on the go.
  •  Some options weigh less than a pound, so you can simply throw your pump in a bag and go!
  • Battery-powered options can be used to pump when no other power sources are available.

How to breastfeed your baby correctly?

If you feel as though breast pumps work in mysterious ways and are complex medical devices, don’t worry mama. You’ve got this. They’re easy to assemble and use!

  1. A breast pump emulates a nursing baby by mimicking their natural suckling pattern. As infants nurse, they don't apply constant pressure to the breast. The average baby sucks about 50 to 90 times per minute and slows down once milk is released. An electric breast pump will create this cycle of suction and release by producing one pull per second to initiate milk let down as breast milk begins to flow.
  2.  As breast milk is expressed, it collects in a storage container. The containers are gravity fed so the milk that’s released drips downward into them.
  3. Breast pumps come with flanges, also known as breast shields, which are funnel-shaped plastic parts that are placed over the nipple and areola to create a seal. The nipple is gently pulled into the flange tunnel to release milk. Make sure you have the correct flange size for pumping success.

What to look for in a breast pump

As you start shopping, you'll want to find a breast pump that meets your specific needs — what works for one mom might not be the right choice for you. When researching the best breast pumps, Andrea Tran, a certified lactation consultant, says to consider these important factors:

Pumping frequency

Think about how often you’ll be pumping. If you plan to pump at least a couple of times a week, a manual pump doesn’t make sense, because you’ll have to expend a lot of time and energy to use it. In that case, it’s probably worth investing in a double-electric pump. And if you think you'll try exclusive pumping, you'll want to invest in the best model you can afford. 

Noise level

While no breast pump is entirely silent, some are louder than others. If you’ll be pumping around other people, in an office or during conference calls, you may want to choose one that’s generally recognized as being relatively quiet. 


If you’ll be commuting to the office or traveling often, it can be helpful to have a lightweight pump.

Cost and insurance coverage

While some breast pumps are covered by insurance, you may want a second one to keep at the office — or you may want to upgrade to a better pump if you’re willing to make an investment.

Where you'll be pumping

Will you have access to an electrical outlet? If not — say you envision pumping in the car on the way to work or in a bathroom — you may want to consider a double-electric model that comes with a battery pack or opt for a smaller, more portable battery-powered option. Some newer models can be worn under your shirt, allowing you to pump completely hands-free and without any obvious tubing or wires. 

Replacement parts

Parts like tubing and duck valves need to be replaced every so often. If you’ll be pumping frequently, it pays to pick a pump that’s compatible with widely-available replacement parts. And if you have multiple pumps — say one for work and one for home — it can be more convenient to buy two of the same brands, since that means the parts (like bottles and flanges) will be compatible. 

What are the different types of Breast Pumps?

There are four main categories of breast pumps:

Hospital-Grade Breast Pumps

These heavy-duty pumps feature powerful motors and a greater amount of “sucks” per minute. They extract milk quickly and are generally fairly quiet, but they’re bulky and lack easy portability. Hospital-grade pumps are usually rented, as they are upwards of $1,000 to purchase.

Electric breast pumps

Efficient, portable and adjustable for both suction and speed. While all require electricity to function, some models feature rechargeable batteries, giving you the freedom to pump without being tethered to an outlet. Electric pumps also typically come with a carrying case and cooler for milk transport, making them a popular choice for working moms. Single electric breast pumps are available, but a double pump is the more popular—and more efficient—choice.

Wearable Electric Breast Pumps 

(sometimes also called hands-free pumps): Gaining in popularity over the last few years, wearable breast pumps are just what they sound like—a hands-free, completely portable breast pump that you can wear right in your bra. The pump is made up of pump “cups” that fit over each breast, flanges and milk bags. Wearable pumps let you pump discreetly and in many different positions, anywhere.

Manual Breast Pumps: 

These breast pumps use the pressing motion of your own hand to create suction and pump your milk. Some are easy to operate with one hand, while others require two hands. Because they lack a motor, these pumps are quiet and small (about the size of a bottle), making them a good choice for travel or for occasional pumping.

All breast pumps are made up of a few essential components:

A breast shield (also known as a flange) that cups your breast. Breast shields come in varying sizes depending on the type and brand of breast pump you choose. Some models provide multiple sizes for you to try out, while others offer additional sizes for purchase.

A bottle or bag for milk collection

A power source (a motor for electric pumps, and a handle for manual ones)

Does Breast Pumping Hurt?

It can but it shouldn't. The first 10 to 15 seconds may be uncomfortable as your nipples begin to stretch and your milk begins to flow, but that generally takes a bit of getting used to. If you experience pain, soreness, or chafing you may need to:

  • Change your flange size. If your flange is too big or too small, it can pinch the sides of your nipple and pull the areola inside of the tunnel.
  •  Change positions. Make sure that your nipple is in the center of your flange. If it's off to one side it can get pulled and pinched in the flange tunnel.
  • Adjust the speed and suction settings. If the suction strength or speed is too high, it may cause irritation and discomfort.
  •  Don't over pump. It takes the breasts about 15 to 30 minutes to empty. Do not pump for more than 30 minutes. If you're having trouble getting your milk to flow, try using a warm compress or massaging your breasts prior to pumping.

When do I start pumping after baby is born?

After giving birth you can start breast pumping right away (about 1~6 hours afterward) to provide for your infant. If there are no latching issues, you can breastfeed them and wait a few weeks to start pumping.

  • Start breast pumping when you’re ready to build and/or store a supply of breast milk. Then remember to stick to your pumping schedule to keep your milk supply consistent.
  • If you’re returning to work, try to start pumping a few weeks (if you have that amount of time) before you return. Waiting until the day before might be stressful and frustrating.
  • Pump in the morning, that's when moms tend to have the most milk.
  •  Pump between feedings, either 30 to 60 minutes after nursing or an hour before breastfeeding. This will leave plenty of milk for your baby during the next feeding.
  •  It’s fine to breastfeed right after pumping, some babies are patient and will feed longer to get the milk they need.

How Often Should I Breast Pump?

How often you pump depends on a few different factors (such as if you want to build a bigger milk supply, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, or if you’re going back to work and might be away from your baby regularly).

  • If you plan to stay at home with your baby and you're available for breastfeeding, you may only need to pump occasionally. Early on, you should breastfeed or pump 8 to 10 times a day as your milk supply becomes established.
  • Your breasts will make more milk when there’s a higher demand for it, so it’s important to breastfeed or pump regularly to boost your supply.
  • If your baby feeds regularly and you only want to pump occasionally, it’s best to pump in the morning. It also helps to pump in between feedings, about 30 minutes after or 60 minutes before.

How Much Milk Should I Pump?

When breast pumping, be sure to fully empty both breasts. This process could take 25 to 30 minutes. Continue breast pumping for a few minutes after the last few drops of milk have passed to make sure you are done.

The amount of breast milk you produce will vary based on your baby's age, time of day, how often you pump or feed, the quality of your pump, diet, and more.

Based on your child's age, you can expect to pump:

o Days 5 to 7: Up to 2oz.
o Weeks 1 to 3: Up to about 3oz.
o 4 Weeks to 6 Months: Up to 5oz.

Don't worry if you aren't pumping very much breast milk during the first few days after your baby is born. Their stomach is still very tiny, so it's normal to only pump 2 ounces during the first five to seven days.
All moms are different! Some produce more milk and others produce less. If you’re concerned about your breast milk production, speak with your doctor or a lactation professional.

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