BENGALURU: Breastfeeding is an unparalleled way of providing ideal nutrition for your baby’s development. It is the source of food that the baby receives within the first hour of life. Majority of hospitals give formula as first feed. It is important that mothers ensure that colostrum (yellowish - orange colour liquid has amazing properties that nourish your infant in the first days of life) is the first feed. Breast milk has benefits that begin from the first months of life and continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year.
Exclusive breastfeeding implies that the infant only receives the breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water. This is the best nourishment for the baby. According to WHO, exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter, infants should be provided with complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding with only breast milk, for six months has several advantages over exclusive breastfeeding for three-four months followed by mixed breastfeeding. WHO estimates that around 2,20,000 children could be saved every year with exclusive breastfeeding. Currently, only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed globally.
Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development. It protects the baby against infectious and chronic diseases. It reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea.
Adolescents who were exclusively breast-fed are less likely to be obese and have type 2 diabetes. For the mother, it reduces risk of ovarian, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and postpartum depression. It is a natural method of birth control which offers 98% protection in the first six months after birth. It implies rapid maternal weight loss after birth and delayed return of menstrual periods. Let us look at how one can exclusively breast-feed their baby.
How long should one breast-feed?
Since the baby is exclusively fed breast milk, the frequency largely depends on them. This may require the mother to feed at least 8 to 12 times in a day. Night time breastfeeding should be made possible by sleeping with the baby. Each session ideally should last between 12 to 67 minutes. Every baby is different, hence it is best to follow demand feeds. After the first month upto four months, the baby needs 8-13 breastfeeding sessions per day. Post six months, the feeds reduce to four to six per day.
How to increase production of milk?
After the first month, 54-234 ml of milk is consumed in a breastfeeding session. On an average, 800 ml of milk is consumed. Pumping out milk can become difficult at times with the postpartum stress. To increase one’s milk supply, check one’s stress levels, at least have skin-to-skin contact for 7 hours and avoid mix and top up feeds. To achieve good milk ejection, mothers should sit comfortably, have good back support, bring the baby to the breast – not breast to baby and baby’s head and body aligned with the mother’s body should take a large portion of the areola into the mouth, wide mouth with bottom lip turned out.
How to ensure correct latching?
Correctly positioning one’s breast to the baby’s mouth allows for several advantages such as more milk to the baby, no sore nipples, increase of supply and the reduction of acquiring bacterial infection by the baby. Skin-to-skin for minimum seven hours a day allows for a relaxed mother and less fussy baby. Mother should keep noticing the subtle cues that the baby wants to feed such as tucking the back of the fist in the mouth.
How to transition to solids?
To meet the growing need of the baby, mashed solid food should be introduced to complement continued breastfeeding. The food should provide sufficient energy, protein and micronutrients to meet a growing child’s needs. However, breast milk should not be decreased when starting on solids. Most children self-wean when they are older than a year. If the baby is consuming more of solids and nursing only for comfort, then you should start shortening the breastfeeding session, one feed at a time. Increase their intake of external nutrients and gradually stop offering breast milk.
The author has B.Sc Microbiology, and is LC at Swapna Healthcare, Hyderabad and Member of Medela India LC Club.
Take it slow
Mothers tend to abandon breastfeeding due to lack of sufficient time or a place to breast-feed. Exclusive breastfeeding is possible for working mothers via expressed breast milk. Expressed milk remains good for up to four hours at room temperature.
Source : http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2019/mar/14/exclusive-breastfeeding-for-six-months-is-the-best-1950769.html