Breastfeeding: Much Ado About Size
Mothers are not an exception when it comes to self-assessment and appreciation. However, as regards the size of the busts, the primary aim of mothers is related to the quality and quantity of the milk in nurturing babies. This is a worthy concern as all over the globe, the importance of breastfeeding is being emphasized. According to the WHO, exclusive breastfeeding;
- lowers the risk of gastro-intestinal infection of the baby
- Contributes to the rapid maternal weight loss after childbirth and delays the return of menstrual period.
- Creates a better immunity against infections and diseases
- Enhances child-mother bond and relation.
- And provides a balanced, unadulterated diet for the growing baby.
Little wonder why many mothers are worried about their breast size in relation with the ability to lactate or effectively breastfeed.
It is important to note that mothers’ breasts especially in the reproductive years can never assume a definite or specific size owing to many factors_ one of which is hormone.
Many pregnant and lactating women’s breasts attain their biggest size during the latter days of pregnancy and within the lactation period. This is as a result of the body’s preparation for the task ahead and the constant transport of fluid to the milk tissues at each respective periods. Yet, the breast size of mothers differs owing to;
• Fatty tissues
Breast size and milk production
As much as these factors dictates the breast size, size itself does not necessarily dictate milk production and storage capacity. Rather, the quantity of milk produced is dependent partly on the frequency of nursing and also on the milk tissues.
The breast is composed of two tissues: glandular tissues and supporting tissues. The former includes lobules which in lactating women makes milk and the ducts which allows the passage of milk to the nipples.
The supporting tissues on the other hand, includes fatty tissue which is highly responsible for the size and shapes of breasts.
In reality, milk storage and not fat are needed for feeding baby. Consequently, a woman with more supporting tissues and less glandular ones would likely appear bustier but may produce and store less milk than the other woman whose breasts contains more glandular tissues and less supporting ones. Hence, this proves that breast size has no relation with effective breastfeeding.
Two Sides of a Coin
Women with smaller breasts usually find latching on and positioning a lot easier than women with large breasts.
On the other hand, considering the issue of storage capacity, big breasted women may be on the advantaged side. This is if the big breasts contains more tissues; both fatty and glandular. However, the capability for efficient breastfeeding is not dependent on the storage, rather on the production capability of each mother.
Overall, Experts have made the assertion that breastfeeding moms can produce an equal amount of milk over a 24 hour period regardless of the size of the breasts. That is, women in each category can have a successful feeding experience under normal circumstances.
If not size, what is?
Although breast size has no influence on the milk produced, there are medical conditions which unfortunately, can influence the adequate production of milk. These are:
• insufficient glandular tissue
• hormonal problems
• effects of hormonal birth control
• previous breast surgery
Aside these, other physical issues which may pose a threat to effective breastfeeding are inverted nipples and incorrect positioning. These are not medical problems as the mother can make corrections. In the case of inverted nipples, employ the use of breast pump to temporarily protrude the nipples.
With the help of lactation consultants, mothers should be able to feed their babies without much difficulties. In lieu of this, women are advised to consult their doctors or lactation specialists if they suspect their babies are not obtaining the desired quantity of milk to satiate and nourish them.
Baby not Getting Enough Milk
Rather than suspect the breast size, other reliable cues in concluding that a baby is not getting enough milk includes;
• short or prolonged feeding sessions
• decrease in milk leaks
• unaccounted crying after feeding
• decrease in urine and stool output.
These instances actually calls for suspicion but not in all situation do they mean inadequate feeding. Changes in baby’s food demands, maternal bodily reaction to breastfeeding pattern, baby’s growth spurt and latching positions may be the actual cause.
Mothers are advised to practice the ”on cue” and ”on demand” method of breastfeeding to ensure that babies are getting the right quantity needed.
Signs of successful breastfeeding
It would be difficult to determine the amount of milk a baby gets while breastfeeding, but it is not impossible to determine whether or not he’s being satiated and nourished. The determinants includes;
• Weight Gain
The weight gain of babies should be monitored. Marianne Neifert, of Doctor Mum opines that a well fed baby should gain approximately one ounce a day in the first three months of life. Improper feeding as well as other conditions may obstruct the normal weight and growth of babies. The least number of times a baby should breastfeed in a day is eight as agreed upon by Experts.
• Stool and urine production
stool and urine production are critical ways of ascertaining the adequacy or otherwise of a well fed baby.
• Other signs of successful breastfeeding are the Obvious Monitoring.
This involves paying attention to the suckling pattern and audible swallowing of babies and the decrease in breast’s fullness after a feeding session as well as the familiar look of satisfaction after nursing.
When the issue of successful breastfeeding is at hand, a few checks are worth prioritizing.
Because breast milk is a direct bye product of mother’s nutrition, the nutritional quality of mother’s foods should be a priority. Every lactating mother should as a matter of duty ensure that calcium rich foods, protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, fresh vegetables and liquids feature in their meals.
Adequate hydration of the body is most advised for nursing mothers because not only does dehydration mitigates against the proper functioning of the body system, it also reduces the quantity of milk flow. Dehydration is one of the primary reason why most mothers become skinny during the lactation period.
• Breast Examination
Experts advice every woman to undergo a prenatal breast exam not only for the purpose of detecting and diagnosing breast lumps but also to screen for various conditions which might lead to breastfeeding problems.