How should be the breastfeeding periods of a baby?
Breastfeeding is the process by which a mother feeds her newborn child through her breasts, which secrete milk immediately after birth, which should be the baby's main food until at least two years of age.
From zero to six months
During this period breast milk should be the baby's only food, except if it needs some kind of vitamin supplement. It is not necessary for the baby to drink water or other liquids: according to the WHO, breast milk itself contains 88 percent water, which is sufficient to satiate the infant. Breast milk will vary in composition and quantity during this period, adapting to the needs of the newborn.
Colostrum is the breast milk produced during the first two or three days after birth. This milk contains a higher amount of proteins and minerals. Thereafter, the percentage of protein in the milk decreases and the fat and lactose content increases.
During this period, there is no timetable for breastfeeding, but the baby should be fed when he/she needs it. Generally, there are 10 to 12 feedings a day, lasting 10 to 20 minutes.
From six months onwards
From six months onwards, the child will begin to need more nourishment than that provided by breast milk. Breast milk is still just as necessary, and the minimum daily intake should not drop below 500 milliliters. Feedings are usually four or five per day until the first year, and from then on they will be progressively reduced. Both the AEPED and the WHO recommend that breastfeeding should be maintained for a minimum of two years.
Once these years of recommendation have passed, the mother can continue breastfeeding her child for as long as she wishes. When it is decided to wean, it should not be done immediately, but the frequency of weaning should be gradually reduced.
The pediatrician will determine whether a premature baby can be breastfed or not, depending on the development that has been achieved. While some can do so from the moment of birth, for others it will be necessary to express breast milk from the breasts and provide it through syringes, tubes or bottles.
Premature infants are usually fed more frequently than normal and do not suckle all the milk they need, so it is common to administer previously expressed milk at a later time.
In some cases, the mother may stop producing the amount of milk needed for her child. In these cases, the kangaroo method is used, which consists of direct contact between the skin of the newborn and the mother, which stimulates milk production.