Right after your baby is born, you’ll be asked to start breastfeeding. If your baby is healthy, breathing well, then putting them to your breast will be a lovely start for you and your little one. They will suck instinctively and that will stimulate your uterus to contract.
Getting Your Baby Latched On
Breastfeeding does more than just feed your baby, there’s a lot going on below the surface that may surprise you. The baby’s mouth must be properly positioned over the areola to provide enough force to stimulate the letdown and the milk to eject through the nipple. Just under the areola are nerve cells that signal the brain to produce more milk. Breastfeeding is all about Demand and then Supply. The baby’s sucking on the areola produces milk flow immediately and also stimulates the nerves below the surface. This is part of a complex feedback pathway that tells the brain to signal to the milk-producing cells in the breast to make more milk the next day.
The pressure from sucking on the areola also sends signals to the mother’s brain to release oxytocin, which not only is a “feel-good chemical” that enhances mother and baby bonding, but also helps the uterus contract and regain it’s tone, shape and pre-pregnant size. Pumping does much the same thing by using the suction over the breast and areola.
Why Frequent Breastfeeding Is Recommended
• To provide ample amounts of colostrum, which acts as a natural laxative, helping the baby pass their first stools, known as meconium, the dark, sticky, tarry first stool.
• To provide protein, growth factors and nutrients for your baby’s growth and development.
• To provide protective antibodies that help strengthen your baby’s immune system.
• To stimulate further milk production.
• To help lessen or prevent engorgement, when the milk does come in.
• To provide lots of practice for mom and baby.
• To stimulate the release of oxytocin which will help your uterus return to normal and prevent too much bleeding.
• To promote bonding with your baby.
If you’d like more helpful tips and information about breastfeeding, check out Nurse Barb’s Personal Guide to Breastfeeding.