Greetings to the enthusiastic K-WAY readers! We usher into August with the ‘World Breastfeeding Week’ from August 1st to 7th. Every year the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) launches a global initiative to promote and support breastfeeding by celebrating World Breast Feeding Week. This year their slogan is “Empower parents, enable breastfeeding”. What better way there is to empower people than provide the right information and support!
Every health organisation in the world including the WHO advocates breastfeeding practises as under:
Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth of the child
Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age (No extra food or drink. Not even water. Breast milk for hunger, thirst, hiccups and comfort)
Breastfeeding on demand.
Say no to feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breast milk being the natural food for babies meets not just the nutritional demands but also offers a wide array of benefits for both the mother and the baby.
For the little one
For the loving mom
Fresh, clean and easily digested. Perfect blend of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and fat.
The first milk or the colostrums helps your baby’s digestive tract to mature.
Reduces risk of depression after childbirth.
Contains protective antibodies that safeguard your little one from infections (fewer ear infections, loose stools, respiratory infections).
Long-term protection against metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Helps your baby gain the right amount of weight. Reduces obesity risk.
Temporarily halts ovulation and menstruation.
Know-hows of breast feeding
Find a relaxed position that is comfortable for you and your baby.
Ensure your baby is latched on correctly with lips pursed outwards over not just the nipple but also part of the areola.
Be patient while feeding. Babies take 10 to 20 mins to feed on each breast.
Comfort. Support yourself comfortably with pillows to improve milk let-down.
Talk to your doctor before taking medicines of any kind.
Facing breastfeeding challenges? Here’s what you can do.
Breast engorgement – Address this issue by alternate heat and cold – ice packs, hot fomentation bags and warm showers. You may express your milk manually or using a breast-pump to feel better.
Sore/dry or cracked nipples – Keep your nipples dry and airy. Avoid perfumes, creams or lotions with alcohol in them. Use a gentle lanolin gel after feeding. Make sure to wash it off before the next feeding session. Use cotton breathable bra pads.
Worried about adequacy of your feed? – If your little one has at-least 6 to 8 wet diapers a day and is gaining weight adequately there is no reason for anxiety.
It is very important for the partner to provide support all along the breastfeeding journey. Though breastfeeding is a natural act there is no denying that it needs learning. In addition to the active support of the doctors/caregivers, family support is very valuable. Working mothers have to manage their parental leave and working arrangements to make exclusive breastfeeding possible in the first 6 months. We need to build a warm chain of support at the community level too (baby-friendly hospitals, breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, feeding rooms, crèches, and flexible working hours). The picture is much bigger than what you think it is!
Let us work together to create a supportive environment that empowers parents, NOW and in the TIMES TO COME!
Dr Lakshmi Prashanth MD (AIIMS)