Optimum nutrition is essential for a child's survival as well as the 'quality' of life. The word 'nutrition' is derived from the word 'nutrients' which means 'to suckle at the breast. 'Breast milk is a natural food for the baby and it is 'species specific'. Successful breastfeeding is an important child-rearing skill to be learnt and practised.
Breast milk is made up from the nutrition that the mother takes as well as her body stores. It has an optimal balance of fat, protein and bodily stores that is necessary for the child's growth and development.
Soon after birth, the baby is awake, alert and is biologically 'ready to feed'. The initiation of breastfeeding is therefore, easy at this point; later on, the baby goes into a prolonged sleep and therefore initiation becomes difficult. In the first few days, a small quantity of colostrum milk (10-40ml) that is secreted is all that the baby needs! Colostrum is rich in proteins and antibodies, which helps the baby to fight against infections.
Suckling should be continued as long as the baby desires, in order to satisfy the sucking instinct of the baby and to express the 'hind milk' which is more nutritious. When the baby sucks, the thirst is satisfied by the 'foremilk' while the 'hind milk' satisfies the nutritional demands of the baby. Hence it is always desirable to let the baby suckle on one side completely at a time, rather than switching sides.
How Often To Breastfeed?
There is no 'tailor-made schedule' as the milk production, suckling habits, stomach habits etc. may vary from one baby to another. Practice two to three hourly feeding initially and allow the baby to self-regulate, later on.
How Long To Breastfeed?
A child should be breastfed exclusively for 6 months (no water or liquids). Weaning foods may be introduced at 6 months but breast feeding should be given as a supplement till 2 years of age.
How To Know Whether My Milk Is Sufficient Or Not?
This is the most frequently asked question. Ask yourself thee three questions?
- Is the baby passing urine around 6-10 times a day?
- Is the baby gaining weight?
- Is the baby sleeping after feeding?
If the answer to the above questions is yes, your baby is getting enough milk!
Burping After Feeding?
A baby tends to swallow air while suckling. To get rid of this, the mother is asked to 'burp' the baby. The baby should be put against the mother's shoulder while supporting the baby's head with one hand while patting on the back gently and slowly. This should be done after every feed. This will make the baby comfortable and prevent milk reflux.
Whether To Breastfeed When The Mother Or The Baby Is Ill?
It is better to consult a gynaecologist/ paediatrician if the mother/ baby is sick. It is also advisable to ensure that the medicines taken by the mother are safe for the baby, especially if the mother is breastfeeding
SAY 'YES' To Breastfeeding!!!! WHY?
Benefits To The Baby
- It is economical and convenient.
- It has least chance of contamination.
- Promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- It is safe for the baby and provides antibodies from the mother, which helps the baby to fight infections. It also prevents the baby from getting respiratory and gastrointestinal infection.
- It ensures emotional stability and personality development because of the close contact and mother-baby bonding.
- A Breast fed baby is found to have superior IQ as compared to a non-breast fed baby.
- It helps to reduce the incidence of allergies, asthma and eczema in baby.
- The baby has a lower risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular and diabetes mellitu
Benefits To The Mother
- The baby's sucking causes a mother's uterus to contract sooner.
- During lactation, menstruation ceases, offering a form of a natural contraception.
- Mothers who breastfeed tend to lose weight and achieve their pre-pregnancy figure more easily than mothers who bottle feed.
- Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer later in life
We, at Kauvery Hospitals, firmly believe that breastfeeding is a mother as well as the baby's birth right. We begin by providing information on breastfeeding to the expectant mothers and continue providing support through the delivery as well as postnatal and during the well-baby check-ups. Breast milk is 'the best and a complete source of nutrition' for the baby. Promoting a culture of breastfeeding will pave a way for a safe and healthy nation, in the future!
Article by Dr. Pushkala., M.S.
MBBS, MD, PGDID (Australia)
Consultant Paediatrician, Kauvery Hospital