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Medical studies over many decades together with the experience of both mothers and babies over the years have come to the conclusion that breast milk is best for babies, being perfectly suited to both nourish babies and protect them from illness. Although the primary benefit of breast milk to babies is nutritional, strong and early bonding of mother and baby is another benefit. No baby is allergic to his mother’s milk although he may sometimes have a reaction to something a mother has eaten. Such a reaction can easily be resolved by a change in the mother’s diet. In addition, breast milk is always sterile and never contaminated by polluted water or dirty bottles. Breast fed babies are also protected from many illnesses. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula and although bottle fed babies tend to be fatter than breast fed babies, this not mean they are healthier.
There are advantages too for the mother herself as breast feeding helps in her postpartum recovery and lessens the risk of breast cancer. The uterus is helped to contract back to its normal size more quickly and breast feeding delays the return of monthly periods.
The more your baby breast feeds, the more milk your body will produce. Newborn babies will often feed about every two hours and not always for reasons of hunger.
In spite of the many advantages and benefits to both the mother and baby, there can be a few inconveniences caused to the mother. One of these may be experiencing engorged breasts due to clogged milk ducts which in turn can lead to mastitis and a painful infection of the breast.
In some women, a few days after their baby is born the milk supply comes on so quickly that the breasts become swollen, hard and even sore. There is an increased supply of blood and other fluids in the breast as well as milk. The breasts and nipples may be so swollen that the baby finds it difficult to latch on and suckle. The discomfort can also make it difficult for the mother to relax and enjoy feeding her baby.
The three most common causes of such engorged breasts are:
• Breasts that are too full of milk.
• Feeding in the wrong position.
• Improper sucking by the baby.
Try not to limited the amount of time spent feeding your baby as this can keep the milk ducts from emptying completely and in turn lead to swelling and pain.
Once a mother stops breast feeding completely, the breasts slowly stop making milk. But during the process of winding down, the breasts may become engorged and overfill with milk.