It's Breastfeeding Awareness Week - A reminder why breast is bestMonday, August 02, 2021
LIKE a broken record, we hear health-care professionals teach new and expecting mothers when nutrition is being discussed that “Breast is best”, which is commonly echoed by respected health bodies including the World Health Organization. And since we are day two into the annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, we want to support and remind mothers that breast milk is liquid gold as well as bring awareness to the positive outcomes for both the health and well-being of breastfed babies and their mommies.
This year, the theme selected by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the organising body for the week of awareness, is 'Protect breastfeeding – a shared responsibility'. The decision, according to WABA, was out of a need to illustrate “the links between breastfeeding and survival, health and well-being of women, children and nations”.
To help us make our case we enlisted the help of health professionals, consultant obstetrician gynaecologist at ICON Medical Centre, Dr Keisha Buchanan, and paediatrician at We 'R' Kids, Dr Anona Griffith.
“Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for the baby. Breast milk has the appropriate proportion of nutrients, the right temperature, is easily digestible and hence will not cause stomach upset. It also has antibodies that protects the baby from infections and the breastfeeding process facilitates bonding with mother and the baby, which is crucial,” Dr Buchanan said.
New mothers, even those who wish to exclusively breastfeed their children, are often obstructed by several hurdles, among them being their work-life demands. Dr Buchanan said, however, that while this may be challenging, women should be supported and encouraged to exclusively breastfeed for at least the recommended first six months of life — even if they will need to pump milk to supplement in their absence. For other mothers, though, who are more accessible to their children, she encouraged that they continue for longer periods.
“Newborn babies must be breastfed every two to three hours in the day and every three to four hours at night. Each breastfeeding session should last 10 to 15 minutes on each breast and breastfeeding should usually last 60 to 120 minutes. The longer the breastfeeding occurs the greater the output of the breast milk,” Dr Buchanan advised.
Want to know more about breast milk and why it is liquid gold? Here are some more facts from Dr Griffith that you may benefit from:
•It is readily available and does not require purchase or mixing.
•It is the perfect milk and is naturally designed to fill the baby's needs.
•Breast milk flow and production are directly related to the frequency of feeds — so feed the baby on demand (and exclusively if you can) to increase milk production.
•It protects against infection due to the antibodies and immunoglobulins it contains.
•Breastfed babies have fewer diarrhoeal illnesses.
•It is a great rehydration fluid.
•Breast milk maintains baby's hydration, especially if the baby is fed on demand.
• It can be “expressed” and fed to the baby, ideally using a cup and spoon.
• Breast milk provides all the water that the baby needs, especially if the child is being exclusively breastfed.
•The milk can remain in the refrigerator for up to three days before needing to be discarded.
•Breast milk can be frozen for up to three to six months before use.
•Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity.
•Breast milk, when applied to a sore breasts, promotes healing.
•According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Moms should also know that their babies are not the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding. Outside of your hearts melting and falling in love over and over again every time you lock stare with your little one during a breastfeeding session, Dr Buchanan said that breastfeeding will also help women to naturally lose weight. It also promotes involution of the womb so that it returns to its prior size, reduces post-partum bleeding, and women will experience fewer urinary tract infections and reduce their chance of anaemia.
•Stress and anxiety decrease breast milk production, so try to relax, mommies.
• Getting adequate sleep in-between feedings can improve milk production.
•Mommies should keep hydrated and eat well to maintain and improve breast milk production.
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