Although breastfeeding is the natural way of feeding the newborn, it does not come naturally easy always!
Initially breastfeeding can be particularly challenging for first timers and this can be a cause of anxiety and frustration. In the adult female, there are 15-20groups of glands that produce milk. These glands are connected to the nipple by the milk ducts. During pregnancy the placenta and the ovaries produce high levels of the hormone progesterone and oestrogen. These hormones act on the glands and cause them to produce colostrum (the milk produced in the first 72-96hours after the birth of the baby).
After 4-5days, the production of proper milk starts.
Immediately after delivery, mothers are encouraged to put their babies to the breast in the delivery room. This will help initiate the act of breastfeeding and also stimulate the release of the hormone oxytocin that helps in the contraction of uterus invariably preventing excessive bleeding from the uterus. In the first 24-48hours or more initiating breastfeeding may be a challenge and persistence in allowing the baby to letch on the nipple and the areola will trigger the nerve endings in the areola. These inturn transfers messages to the brain to produce prolactin and oxytocin. Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed the babies on demand. This means breastfeeding the baby anytime the babies show desire for feed. This invariably means that the babies are breastfed more frequently than those babies that are breast fed at regular intervals spaced apart. Research has revealed that babies breastfed on demand get more feeds than more breastfed at regular intervals of three to four hours. This study also revealed that babies who were fed on demand had more weight gain than others and the mothers also had greater quantity of breast milk to supply.