By Aseel Salhab, Infant and Child Sleep Consultant
Breastfeeding is a technique that most mothers find hard and challenging at the beginning. However, your journey can be mostly positive with the proper guidance and support. A large part of my job as an infant and child sleep consultant involves supporting breastfeeding mothers.
Breastfeeding and sleep
Many expectant mamas fear that if they continue breastfeeding their baby, they won’t get a decent night’s sleep. Breast milk contains melatonin at night, so your body is helping to make your newborn sleepy during the night.
Nursing and sleep training can be done simultaneously. The key is to breastfeed first, finish your bedtime routine and then put your baby down into the crib while still awake. This way, your baby doesn’t associate nursing and being held by you with falling asleep.
Benefits of breastfeeding for you and baby
- Breast milk contains a lot of vitamins and minerals that protect your baby from long-term infections
- Breastfeeding transmits antibodies to your baby, which provides your baby with a great immune system during the first couple of months of life
- Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of ovarian, uterus cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
- Breastfeeding makes it easy to feed your baby anytime, in any place
- Breastfeeding creates a great bond between you and your baby
We all know the importance of healthy food when pregnant or breastfeeding – when your baby is entirely dependent on getting all nutrition from mama.
Here are essential foods to consume daily, so your baby gets enough vitamins and nutrients during breastfeeding:
- Fruits and vegetables: Try to aim for five portions of a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables
- Complex carbohydrates: Enjoy sweet potatoes, bulgur, freekeh and whole wheat products. Try to stay away from refined carbohydrates and sugar as they increase sugar levels
- Protein: Fish, meat, chicken, eggs, pulses and nuts. Try to add salmon once a week as it contains Omega- 3, which is good for the brain
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yoghurt are important for providing calcium, which is important for your bones
There may be times when breastfeeding is challenging, such as with a colicky baby. Colic-type symptoms can appear if a baby is having problems latching onto the breast. Usually colic symptoms start at the age of four weeks and end between four to six months. If your baby continues crying for up to three hours, then know that this is colic and you need to consider how to hold your baby and burping.
Tips to help ease colic while feeding your baby:
- Burping: Burp baby during and after every feed
- Sit baby up: While breastfeeding, sit your baby up to minimise the air swallowed
- Latching: Let’s ensure that your baby is latching the right way to reduce colic symptoms
- Hold and hug: Babies feel safe when they are hugged while crying
- Calm atmosphere: Try to breastfeed in a calm environment, as babies get overstimulated by the environment around them
- Warm bath and massage: Bathing and massaging calms baby down and helps release painful gases
Breastfeeding in public
Many mothers choose not to breastfeed as they find it hard to breastfeed in public and many places don’t support breastfeeding mothers. Some mothers go back to work and decide not to continue breastfeeding. If this is your choice, you can express as much milk as you can, freeze this milk (make sure to write the date), so your baby can have this milk in a bottle at night or while you’re at work. This makes it easier for you to have a long stretch of sleep and your baby will get your breast milk when you’re at work.
Breastfeeding is a miracle that I encourage couples to consider, despite all the obstacles and challenges- the benefits for both mama and baby are priceless!
You can contact Aseel Salhab at firstname.lastname@example.org