Breastfeeding is the most preferred form of feeding for newborn babies. There are various factors to modern day breastfeeding which especially involve particularly young working mothers who depend largely on formula feeding. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months should start immediately after the birth. As just after delivery mother and child are kept in different beds, most mothers are not too keen to feed them. In fact, most hospital setups have lack of rooms in which makes it uncomfortable for mothers to feed their baby. The initial period is essential for feeding as the amount of milk production increases with suckling of babies along with secretion of colostrum which is a rich source of nutrient and antibody. Mothers often get worried that there isn’t adequate milk production for the babies and they choose to go with supplement feeds instead. However, this is a wrong practice and babies should be immediately handed over to their mother post-birth under proper physician’s guidance so that breastfeeding can start off immediately. It is important to make mothers aware and motivated about breastfeeding as breastfed babies receive the wealth of medical benefits and have more chance of survival as they get immune to a lot of diseases early on.  It is recommended by expert medical practitioners across the world that every baby must be exclusively breastfed for their first six months, at least for a better chance to live a healthy life and be immune to various illness and overall development.

Here are some of the immense health benefits breastfed children enjoy:

  • Lower risk of contracting allergies, obesity, Type 1 & 2 diabetes, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), ear infections (otitis media) and gastroenteritis
  • Boost overall cognitive development. The IQ level of breastfed children is reported to be higher than those who were put on formula feed
  • Reduction in risk of childhood leukemia, lymphoma and cardiovascular diseases during adulthood
  • Help in building up the child’s digestive system. Improves jaw movement, facial muscles’ strength and less chance of tooth decay
  • Decreased risk of asthma, respiratory tract infection, cold & flu, bronchitis and celiac disease

Breastfeeding not only prevents infections allergy and atopy in children, it also develops mother and child bond. Studies have also shown less incidence of behavioral problems in breastfed children particularly temper, tantrums and aggression. Also, better cognitive skills are seen.

 

And mothers also are not left behind from the goodness of breastfeeding:

  • Reduced chances of breast cancer which comes in proportion to the cumulative lifetime duration of lactation
  • Develop bones health as breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis in the long run
  • Regular breastfeeding releases oxytocin and cholecystokinin in mothers which relieve them of tension, lessen the risk of developing postpartum depression and foster a stronger bond between mother and child
  • Protect mothers from developing type 2 diabetes and obesity
  • Lesser risk of cardiovascular diseases, uterine and ovarian cancer and additionally, help in maintaining a proper sleeping pattern

 

There are various techniques and methods of proper breastfeeding which every lactating mother should know:

  • To get more comfortable with breastfeeding, expecting mothers can attend prenatal breastfeeding classes where pictorial representation along with videos and live demonstration with dolls aid mothers to get comfortable with the whole process
  • Choose a relaxed and reclined position on the bed or a supportive chair while feeding the baby. Cradle the baby properly so that he/she can latch on easily. Allow a trained nurse to guide you during the preliminary period so that the mother can get used to it
  • Start breastfeeding as soon as the baby is born so that the infant can also imbibe the habit early on. It also accelerates the supply of milk and helps to keep the flow constant. Skin-to-skin contact, touch and smell of mother builds up mother-child bond progressively
  • It advisable to use both breasts while feeding. Keep checking if the baby has latched well. Be watchful of how he/she is swallowing the milk and moving the jaw. Keep your baby’s head slightly tilted towards the back, infant’s chin should be placed at the lower dent of the breast while you aim your nipple towards the baby’s everted upper lip
  • Mothers should drink plenty of fluid, include protein, whole grains and vegetable in their diet to keep up the milk supply. Take care of nipples if they feel sored or the skin feels chapped. Post-nursing gently wipe the nipples, use doctor’s prescribed lanolin creams to treat dryness. Use cold compress to reduce soreness

Authored by,

Dr. Kakoli Acharyya, Department of Paediatrics

CK Birla Hospitals, CMRI