Breastfeeding Guidelines

suckling baby smiling on the brest

Breastfeeding Glossary

  • AREOLA – the small circular area of coloured skin surrounding a woman’s nipple. The size and colour of this area varies hugely from woman to woman. In order to breastfeed successfully, babies need to take much of the areola into their mouth as well as the nipple.
  • ATTACHMENT – is the term used to refer to how a baby attaches himself to the mother’s breast; it is sometimes called “latching on”.
  • BREAST PADS – small pads of absorbable material that are placed in the cups of a woman’s maternity bra to soak up any milk leakages.
  • BREAST PUMPS – a mechanical or electrical suction device used to extract milk from the breasts.
  • COLOSTRUM – the fluid that is produced by a woman’s breast before her milk comes in. Due to the high level of protective antibodies it offers newborns, this fluid is nicknamed many things including Nature’s Vaccine and Liquid Gold.
  • EBM – acronym commonly used for “Expressed Breast Milk”.
  • EXPRESSING: the process of extracting breast milk from a woman’s breasts. Women can either express by hand or use a manual or electric breast pump.
  • FLAT OR INVERTED NIPPLES – nipples that do not stand out from the areaola and in some cases may even go inwards when stimulated.
  • FOREMILK – this is the low-fat milk that comes out of the breast at the beginning of the breastfeed, when the breasts are quite full.
  • HINDMILK – this fluid is richer in calories and fat than the foremilk and is the milk coming from a relatively drained breast, usually towards the end of a feed.
  • LACTATION – the process of the mammary glands in the breasts producing and secreting milk to feed a baby.
  • LET-DOWN REFLEX – the release of milk from the glandular tissue in the breast; a feeling of sudden warmth or a tingling sensation a few moments after the baby has latched onto the breast. Some breasts are so sensitive that they will let down when a baby cries.
  • LANOLIN CREAM – a cream that is often usd during a period of establishing breastfeeding to help alleviate the pain of sore or cracked nipples.
  • MILK DUCTS – the tubes in the breasts in which the milk travels in from the glandular tissue to the nipple. These ducts can be prone to blockages.
  • NIPPLE SHIELD – a thin, flexible, silicone cover that fits over the nipple and breast while nursing. Nipple shields are often recommended for use by women with sore nipples and/ or inverted or flat nipples, to help the baby latch on correctly. Nipple shields are generally only a temporary aid.
five babies all looking in different directions

Extended Breastfeeding

To many people the notion of extended breastfeeding is absurd. To some it is even repulsive, but to those women who breastfeed their babies into and sometimes beyond toddler hood, it’s completely natural.

WHO (World Health Organization) agrees, recommending all babies receive breast milk for at least two years. In many traditional cultures it is not uncommon for a child to be breastfed for anywhere up to seven or eight years; in fact the average age for breastfeeding throughout the world is four years.

The duration for developed countries is significantly lower, with many women in Australia, America and UK barely making it past the one year mark or even six months.

Drop the subject of extended breastfeeding into a conversation and you’ll start up an animated discussion. People are much divided in their opinions on extended feeding and their thoughts will often surprise you.

The main differences between breastfeeding a baby and breastfeeding a toddler/child is that breastfeeding is usually properly established as a routine and that the child is also taking in solids. Additionally, many nursing toddlers are able to climb up to their mums and verbalise their desire to breastfeed.

The fact that a breastfeeding child can both walk and talk can make the activity confronting for some adults.

two toddler brothers and their teddy bears having a cuddle

Some mums make a conscious decision to breastfeed their children as long as possible for the perceived health benefits. Others simply believe that their children should wean naturally to their own schedule and therefore they breastfeed into toddlerhood because that’s what their children desire and request.

For those women who actively decide to enjoy the extended breastfeeding experience, it’s often because they’re well informed about the benefits of breast milk for toddlers and young children.

In some studies extended nursing has been linked with increased intelligence, decreased sickness and allergies, and good social adjustment. The nutritional benefits of breastfeeding are especially useful for those parents struggling with toddlers who are fussy with their food.

Another major benefit of extended breastfeeding is the ability to calm and comfort a sick or injured child.

Many parents have commented that breastfeeding a toddler also makes bedtime peaceful and free from the screaming fits that many families suffer with. A quick feed before bed is a natural wind down, forms a major part of a comfortable and familiar routine, and children who experience this rarely kick up a fuss about going to sleep. Perhaps this is because breastmilk has components that naturally cause drowsiness?

Many mothers who extend feed do admit that it can sometimes be a challenge. Often toddlers who are used to breastfeeding for comfort will touch their mother’s breasts or put their hands down their mother’s shirts in public, which can cause obvious embarrassment.

But most mums are quick to state that the benefits by far outweigh any negatives and to their children it is much more of a means of nutrition – it’s an emotional comfort that provides much joy and comfort.

Potential problems include other people’s unwanted comments and opinions – usually negative, or a child ultimately not wanting to wean. This, however, is extremely uncommon; all children will wean naturally when they are ready.

Rules For Breast Milk Storage

A friend of mine recently had her second baby. This morning she rang me to ask if I still remembered how long expressed breastmilk (EBM) would last in the fridge.

I found the information in Breastfeeders Anonymous by Rachael Blair and thought I would share it here in case there are other mums looking for a quick reference source.

baby and mother breastfeeding outside in nature

The following information is quoted from page 204 of Breastfeeders Anonymous:

  • – Fresh EBM can be stored at room temperature for 6-8 hours, in the coldest part of the fridge for 5 days or the freezer for three months (only two weeks in the freezer section of the fridge).
  • – Frozen EBM should not be warmed but can be thawed in a fridge. This should be fed within 4 to 24 hours, but should NEVER be refrozen.
  • – Frozen EBM can also be thawed in warm water. This milk should be fed to the baby immediately and any leftovers thrown away. Alternatively, it can be stored in a fridge for up to four hours before feeding. We reiterate: NEVER refreeze.
  • – EBM that has already been offered to a baby should be discarded immediately following that feed. It should not be refrigerated or frozen.

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