Breastfeeding as a new mum can be tricky – it’s all new, you’re sleep deprived and a little all over the place.
But one woman has created a video to show why you should keep baby on the breast, even when it looks like they aren’t doing much.
Using a sponge and three wine glasses, breastfeeding peer supporter Nicky Gibbon, from Calderdale, Yorkshire, explains how to know when your baby is full.
She starts by taking the sponge and dipping it in a jug of water that is dyed blue and some oil, representing the fattier portion of the milk.
She explains: ‘If you were to express your breast milk and let it settle, it would separate like it has done in this jug, but in the breast it is all mixed up together.
‘The sponge represents the breast. It’s important to remember that breasts are not storage vessels. Milk is not stored in them – it is made on-demand as baby is suckling.’
After mixing the oil and water together, she takes the sponge and starts sucking up the mixture.
She then holds the sponge over the first wine glass and squeezes the initial liquid out.
She says: ‘When you first latch your baby on for a feed, that will start with rapid sucks and that is to initiate the letdown.
‘During letdown, baby will be sucking and swallowing quite quickly to keep up with the fast flow of milk.’
This is the ‘thirst-quenching part of the milk’ which has a high water content and it is packed with glucose to wake baby up.
Nicky adds: ‘As the letdown slows, baby will settle into a more rhythmic suck/swallow/breathe pattern of feeding.’
Mimicking the pattern with the sponge over the second wine glass, she explains that this starts to let the larger fat molecules in.
She says: ‘You can see in the second glass that there is more fat than the first.’
Moving on to the third glass, Nicky explains this shows the end of the feed.
‘This is going to get really messy she says. At the end of a feed, baby may flutter and it may be really tempting to take baby off at this stage as it can seem like they are not doing much at all.
‘But if you had taken them off, this is what they would have missed out on. This is a really high calorie milk and it’s needed for weight gain and to satisfy their hunger.
‘The fat molecules at the end of a feed are so large that babies flutter to allow their tongue to manipulate those really large fat molecules out.’
At the end, the final glass is filled with cloudy fatty liquid.
Nicky also adds that it is normal for babies to seem like they want the second breast after a feed because of this fatty milk.
She says: ‘The reason is because we compare this high-calorie milk to something like chocolate, and after having chocolate, we often reach for a glass of water ourselves, and babies are no different. They may want some of that thirst-quenching milk to wash down the chocolate at the end of the feed.’
But she also notes that when there’s a heatwave, babies might not want to have that fattier milk.
She says: ‘They may want short, frequent feeds for more of this thirst-quenching milk. And that’s the reason why we don’t need to offer exclusively breastfed babies water alongside breastfeeding because this thirst-quenching milk has a high water content already.
‘Your babies are very clever, they know what they need. Trust your bodies because they are amazing and they will adapt to your baby’s needs.’
Mums have been amazed by the explanation and the video, which was posted earlier this month, has been shared over 23,000 times.
One mum said: ‘My midwife recommended I view this video and it makes sooooo much more sense now! 5 days in and today is the best day we’ve had.’
Another added: ‘Amazing and reassured me at a point where I was starting to worry it was time to stop because he was just feeding a little bit and not seeming to want more. I started to feel like I wasn’t maybe giving him enough but this makes perfect sense with the heat!!!’
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