What is breast milk?
Breast milk is milk produced by humans to be consumed by babies as the main source of nutrition for babies who have not been able to digest solid food. Providing breast milk for babies is recommended until the baby 2 years old. After entering the age of 6 months, babies are given complementary food of breastmilk. However, breastfeeding is recommended to continually given until the age of 2 years.
Mother’s milk is produced of the influence of the hormone prolactin and oxytocin after the birth of the baby. The first breast milk that comes out is called colostrum and it contains lots of immunoglobulin A ( a good substance for the body’s defense against disease). Natural milk produced by the mother is better than the most expensive formula milk.
Here are some benefits of breast milk for both babies and the mother.
- Fulfill the baby’s nutritional needs
Breast milk is the first natural food for babies. Breastmilk is sufficient for all the energy and nutritional babies needs during the first months of life until they are 6 months.
- Speed up baby’s growth and development
Breast milk can help sensory and cognitive development in infants. It was found that the cognitive development of breastfed infants was better than those not breastfed.
Also, babies who are breastfed for up to 9 months have better cognitive development than those who are only given for 3 months or 6 months. In another study, it was found that high IQ scores were associated with breastfeeding.
- Increase the baby’s immune system
In breast milk, there is an immune system contained in proteins such as lactoferrin and IgA. It has functions to protect babies from bacterial infections such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Giving exclusive 6-month breastfeeding without formula feeding can reduce infant mortality caused by diseases and help speed up the healing process.
- Reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
Exclusive breastfeeding can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome when the baby sleeps. Research shows that the effect of breast milk in reducing the risk of infant death syndrome will only be seen if breast milk is given exclusively for at least 2 months.
The benefits of breastfeeding for mother
- Faster recovery from fatigue and postpartum pain
Breastfeeding mothers will recover faster after childbirth than those who do not breastfeed, because when breastfeeding in the body the hormone oxytocin will be produced which in addition to helping milk ejection. This will also help restore the size of the uterus to normal. Besides that oxytocin helps uterine contractions, thereby reducing postpartum bleeding.
- Natural contraception
Breastfeeding turns out to delay the mother’s menstrual period so that it can help the mother to give a distance to her pregnancy naturally. This is called lactational amenorrhea. During breastfeeding, the production of the hormone estrogen will decrease, while ovulation occurs when estrogen levels in the body increase.
- Practical and economical
When babies cry because they are hungry at midnight, it is certainly easier to directly breastfeed than having to get out of bed and make formula milk. Breast milk also has benefits on the economic side. Providing exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continuing breastfeeding for up to 2 years can help reduce the cost of buying expensive formula milk.
- The risk of getting cancer decreases.
It is not known exactly why breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. But according to several studies, the longer the breastfeeding, the more protected from this disease. This occurs because breastfeeding can suppress the production of the hormone estrogen.
The following are some of the tips you can do to increase and maintain mother’s milk production
- Enough fluids intake
A mother is recommended to consume enough fluids. Every day’s needs for fluids may be different. However, try to drink at least eight glasses every day or about 2 liters of water to keep your mother hydrated.
- Eat balanced nutritious food
In general, nursing mothers will need an additional 300 – 500 calories per day. However, remember not to overeat. Adjust food portions as needed. Choose nutritious foods that can provide energy. Eat foods that are rich in protein and can increase the production of breast milk such as oatmeal, garlic, green papaya, beans, carrots, spinach, mustard greens, salmon, and others.
- Discipline and diligence
Discipline and diligence to breastfeed and milk the milk, because actually, the most effective way to increase breast milk production is to breastfeed more often and milk the milk. Avoid leaving the breast full or swollen, try to always “empty” the breasts every time you flush or breastfeed. Try to increase the frequency of breastfeeding, especially at night when the prolactin hormone is actively working, and also increase the frequency of flushing (try every 2 hours regularly).
- Maintain a mental state
Remember that the breastfeeding process is influenced by the hormone oxytocin and prolactin, whose production is strongly influenced by emotions. Therefore, it is very important for mothers to maintain emotional conditions to stay relaxed and comfortable. Do several things that can increase the production of these two hormones. Also, mothers can also do positive relaxation and affirmations to increase milk production.
- Look for help
During this period, mothers need not hesitate to ask for help. Look for help doing housework or doing things that are time-consuming and stressful. Try to always have time to breastfeed your child in a relaxed and unhurried state.
- Massaging the Breast
Proper massage in the breast will increase milk production.
- Pumping breast milk
The next way to increase breast milk production is to pump the breast. This is useful so that the breasts are always aroused to produce milk.
- Pump breast milk consistently and periodically between times of breastfeeding.
- Pump each breast for at least 10 minutes.
- Please note that milk production increases when it is 2-5 in the morning. If possible, pump breast milk in this hour.