Newborn Care Image

Once a child is born, the mother’s body adapts so that it can care for the newborn child. Her breasts change and begin to lactate (produce milk) so she can feed the baby. However, not all women choose to breastfeed. As with prenatal care and the childbirth process, newborn care comes with various aspects and considerations for a mother.

Breastfeeding: Benefits, Proper Diet and Technique

One important choice regarding newborn care is whether or not a mother decides to breastfeed. Although women in the sixties and seventies turned away from breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months.

Besides developing a special bond between mother and baby, breastfeeding also provides the baby with milk that is high in whey protein and has balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus. Formulas, on the other hand, tend to be poorly mixed and can lead to malnourished infants.

Before a mother begins breastfeeding, she should consult a lactation expert to ensure that she understands not only the proper diet but also so the right technique. Because breastfeeding can occur as much as eight to twelve times per day in the first two weeks, knowing the proper technique will allow for adequate feeding while minimizing sore nipples.

Breast Changes and Infections

Lactating women will generally experience engorgement of their breasts, along with increased tenderness and firmness. If the breasts are becoming overly engorged, pumping out breast milk (that can be frozen for later feedings) can help decrease this excess bloat. Breast pumping also helps should a mother have trouble breastfeeding.

Because breastfeeding causes an increased wear on the mother’s nipples, small cracks on this delicate area can arise. If bacteria from the infant’s mouth or from other areas of the mother’s skin enters these cracks, the mother may get an infection known as mastitis. If hot compresses fail to work, the mother may have to take antibiotics and, therefore, stop breastfeeding until the infection clears up.

Newborn Care After Breastfeeding

Women who are unable to breastfeed will need to give their babies formula. Formula comes in standard and soy formulas and both are widely available. Formula is specifically designed for an infant’s nutritional needs and is easier for babies to digest than cow’s milk. Milk, as opposed to formula, doesn’t provide them with adequate nutrition for infants. Formula can also be used as part of the weaning process or as a supplement to a breast milk diet.

Weaning generally occurs when the baby is between four to six months old. At this point, a reduction in breastfeeding and/or formula is complemented by a slow introduction of solid foods. During this stage, highly allergic foods, such as peanuts and chocolate, as well as foods that are easy to choke on, like nuts and grapes, should be avoided. The best foods are soft, iron- fortified, and easily digestible: baby cereals, bananas, and peaches are all healthy choices.

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