THERE is a lot of speculation about breastfeeding but here are the facts. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a child's life.
Breast milk is a natural food for infants and benefits both mother and child.
* Helps mom to lose weight after baby is born
* Method of birth control as it delays ovulation which is necessary for fertilisation
* Decreases bleeding after delivery
* Decreases risk of ovarian and breast cancer
* Readily available and there is no cost
* Creates a bond between mom and baby
BENEFITS TO THE INFANT
* Helps to protect against infections such as ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and meningitis
* Contains all the nutrients needed for a baby to grow
* Reduces incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
* Decreases risk of developing illnesses when the child becomes an adult, including asthma, allergies, diabetes, and obesity
As it is with most things, there is a method or technique to breastfeeding correctly. Initially, breastfeeding may feel very awkward but with advice from medical staff it can become more comfortable. It is vital for every mother to ensure she positions herself and her infant properly, so that latching on to the breast can occur. The mother should sit in a chair that will keep her upright, preferably with arm rests, during feeding.
The various positions to hold the infant include cradle hold, cross cradle hold and football position.
* Cradle hold: The infant's tummy is facing mother's tummy while supporting the infant with the opposite arm to the nursing breast
* Cross cradle hold: Similar to the cradle hole but the same arm is used
* Football: Hold the baby to the same side with forearm and use hand to support the head and neck while the face is brought towards the breast
A lying position may also be done when tired, but the baby should be placed on their own bed afterwards.
The nipple is placed to the corner of the mouth or on the upper lip of the infant. This will allow the baby's mouth to open and the baby should latch on to the nipple and a portion of the areola, then sucking will begin. Nursing can last for 15 minutes or longer, and for older infants, most of the milk is obtained in the first five minutes. The baby will obtain the best benefits from breast milk if the mother herself has adequate nutrients and calories in her diet, avoids fatigue and maintains good physical health. It is also important that nursing mothers avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
MYTHS ABOUT BREASTFEEDING
Breastfeeding causes sagging
Breastfeeding does not change the shape or size of the breasts. Other factors such as ageing and pregnancy can cause a change.
Small breasts don't produce as much milk
This is not so as breast milk is made on demand.
Never wake a sleeping baby
It is important that all babies are fed at feeding time as this ensures an adequate supply of nutrients and prevents dehydration. The smaller the baby is in weight, the more important it is to have them feed on time. Babies are usually fed every three to four hours. Newborns are fed more frequently (every two to three hours).
If your breast does not hurt during breastfeeding then you are not nursing properly
Breastfeeding should not be painful. It may be uncomfortable at most.
Breastfeeding a lot decreases milk production
Putting your baby on the breast actually increases milk supply.
Dr Michelle Williams is a paediatrician. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.