All the vitamins, proteins, fats and other nutrients that the newborn needs are found in breastmilk. These nutrients help the baby grow and gain the right amount of weight.
Choosing to breastfeed your baby is one of the most important decisions the mother makes for her new-born. There are significant advantages for the mother and for the child, that many first-time mothers may not be aware of.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING TO THE BABY
- BREAST MILK IS HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS
All the vitamins, proteins, fats, and other nutrients that the new-born needs are found in breastmilk. These nutrients help the baby grow and gain the right amount of weight.
- BREAST MILK BUILDS IMMUNITY
The antibodies in breastmilk strengthen the baby’s immune system and protect the baby from infections
- BREAST MILK PREVENTS VIRAL/BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
The nutrients in breastmilk reduce the baby’s risk for illnesses such as ear infections, respiratory illness, diarrhoea, and childhood leukaemia. The long-term benefits of breastfeeding, including a lower risk of developing diabetes and obesity in adulthood.
- BREAST MILK IMPROVES INTELLECTUAL ABILITY
Certain studies have linked breastfed babies with having a high IQ in later childhood.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING TO THE MOTHER
- 1. Breastfeeding helps lose weight gained during pregnancy
- 2. It helps bring the uterine cavity back to its pre-pregnancy size
- 3. It reduces post-delivery uterine bleeding
- 4. It reduces the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis.
OVERCOMING COMMON OBSTACLES WHILE BREASTFEEDING
- Low Breastmilk Production: In the initial days, the milk production might seem low, but that will be perfectly enough for the needs of your new-born who will spend most of his/her time sleeping. With regular attempts at breastfeeding, you will notice that the milk secretion increases. However, if the baby does not gain enough weight, it might be time to ask the doctor if you could take a supplement that can boost milk production.
- Inverted Nipple/ Flat Nipple: If the mother has an inverted or a flat nipple, the new-born may have trouble latching on. However, this does not affect production of breastmilk. Discuss with a lactation expert on what options you have in order to stimulate the nipple enough for the baby to latch on or to help the infant learn to open his/her mouth wide and bypass the nipple, allowing his gums to close further back on the breast and more the baby feeds, there are chances you will overcome the problem entirely.
- Dry or Cracked Nipple: When the baby does not latch on properly this can cause the nipple to get dry and cracked. If the condition persists, breastfeeding will become a painful experience. There are ointments available that can moisturise and treat the affected nipple. Make sure to wipe off the medication before feeding your baby. Some women massage the dry nipple with breast milk to soften the dry, damaged skin. However, the long-term solution is finding a more suitable position to breastfeed the baby, to ensure he/she latches on correctly.
- Returning to Professional life: The doctor will recommend breastfeeding the baby for six months, but nobody gets that long a maternity break. The emotional turmoil is a big burden on the mother, without piling on the guilt that she will not be able to breastfeed the baby. The breast pump is definitely the big relief in this situation. Working mothers can pump breastmilk and store them away in their freezer. As and when required the milk can be thawed and fed to the baby.
BREASTFEEDING – A BONDING EXPERIENCE
Breastfeeding benefits to the mother and child are plenty, but the emotional bond it creates is exceptionally gratifying. The skin-to-skin touch plays a very significant role in the emotional well-being of the mother and child. The stress of childbirth, the ensuing responsibilities and the change in appearance often tends to push the new mom into depression despite having been blessed with a child. Breastfeeding can prove calming and will ease her emotional turmoil by giving her lots of alone time with the baby. And there’s no doubt that the child will also benefit from the closeness. If you have the option to breastfeed, take it. You will be doing a world of good for your child and for yourself.
August is World Breastfeeding Month, and between 1st and 7th, it’s Breastfeeding Week. Let’s understand and spread awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding.
JUNIOR CONSULTANT – PAEDIATRICS