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Breastfeeding Glossary

Breastfeeding like most things has its own language. Understanding the terminology and speak will hopefully help to enlighten you and give you a better understanding when discussing the subject matter with others.

We have complied a list of commonly used breastfeeding terms and their definitions to help you on your breastfeeding journey.

Areola: The areola is the dark round area that surrounds your nipple.

Alveoli: The glands that produce and secrete milk.

Breastfeeding or Nursing: Feeding a baby or child from the breast.

Breast: Protruding organs found on a women’s upper chest designed for breastfeeding.

Blocked milk ducts: This is when the milk ducts become plugged or blocked and the milk is unable to flow freely. This condition is usually caused by mastitis.

Biological nursing: Is a laidback breastfeeding position. This is particularly useful for women with smaller breasts and for women who want to catch up on some rest while breastfeeding.

Colostrum: A thick creamy/yellow type substance that is produced by the breast post birth. This is baby’s first feed and is full of valuable nutrients and immune boosting enzymes designed to give baby the best start in life.

Coopers Ligament: The ligaments that support the breast tissue.

Clutch hold: Commonly known as the football hold. This is a breastfeeding position used by women who have had C-sections, twins or have large breasts. Baby is simply tucked under the arm much like a football and is breastfeed this way.

Cradle hold: This is probably the most common breastfeeding position adopted by women. The baby lies across your body resting into your elbow. Your other arm slides under baby supporting his back.

Colic: A common condition found in 1 in 5 babies in the early months. Baby experiences abdominal pain, which causes an erratic sleep and crying pattern.

Reflux: Reflux is not vomiting. It is simply the motion of spitting up what they have swallowed.

Duct: Is a passageway that stores and carries fluid (milk).

Engorgement: When the breast becomes sore and swollen. This is a result of the breasts been too full of breast milk.

Extended breastfeeding: When a toddler continues to breastfeed past the age of 1 year.

Flat nipple: This is when the nipple does not protrude.

Foremilk: This is the first milk released by the breast at the beginning of every feed. This milk is much more watery and will quench babies thirst.

Feeding on demand: Baby is fed when he or she is hungry. Feeding is not timed to a clock, but to your baby’s appetite.

Hind milk: This is the milk the breast produces during the middle of the feed. It is much thicker and richer and contains the beneficial nutrients and fats that baby needs to develop and grow.

Inverted nipple: The nipple retracts into its self.

Immune: Protection against infection.

Inflammation: An infected area of redness, warmth and swelling. It will often feel painful. You should consult your health care provider, as medication may be required.

IBCLC: International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.

Kangaroo care: A technique often adopted for premature babies. It is when babies are placed skin to skin. It has been proven to help stimulate feeding and a sense of security.

Lactation: The secretion of milk.

La Leche League: A breastfeeding organization that provide women with breastfeeding support.

Lactation consultant: Trained professionals who specialize in breastfeeding support.

Lactose: Is the sugar found in Milk.

Lanolin: A healing cream used on cracked nipples.

Latching on: When the baby’s mouth is attached to the breast.

Latch: A technique required for baby to effectively breastfeed.

Let down: Sometimes painful; this is the initial sensation felt when the milk is released from the breast.

Lipase: The enzyme that breaks down the fat in breast milk.

Leakage: When lactating breasts leak breast milk from the nipple. This tends to happen when the breast is very full (close to feeding time), the breasts are pressed into or the nursing bra is too tight.

Nursing bra: A specially designed bra that enables a women to breastfeed discretely with the aid of drop down cups.

Nursing pads: Absorbent pads designed to draw moisture away from leaking lactating breasts.

Nutrition: Taking in healthy food to help aid in growth and development.

Nipple: Protrudes from the areola and releases breast milk.

Nipple shield: A protective plastic cup used to shield the nipple when the baby breastfeeds. Some women use it to aid in protecting the nipple against damage caused by breastfeeding in the early weeks.

Nursing pillow: A specially designed pillow used to aid in holding baby in position when breastfeeding.

Night feed: Feeding baby during the night.

Mastitis: A painful infection caused by blocked milk ducts. A woman can become very unwell suffering from flu like symptoms and should seek medical assistance.

Montgomery glands: Are pimple like in appearance and are found on the areola. They produce oils that lubricate the nipple.

Positioning: The way the baby is held in order to breastfeed.

Pumping: Breast milk is secreted from the breast via a breast pump and stored for later use in the fridge.

Prolactin: A hormone produced by the piluitary gland that is responsible for milk production.

Breast pump: A specially designed machine that secrets breast milk from the breast.

Rooty: The instinctive turn of the head as baby looks for the breast to feed.

Sleep feeding: Feeding the baby while he is still sleeping.

Tandem breastfeeding: When a mother breastfeeds two children at once.

Thrush: A yeast infection caused by fungus. It is often found in the mouth or throat and is easily spread.

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