Breastfeeding gives you a healthier
baby. Breast milk contains antibodies that fight infection. The immune system
of a baby is not well developed. That is why babies are prone to infections.
Breastfed babies are less likely to fall sick and if they do fall sick, they
get well faster and are rarely seriously ill.
Breast milk can also reduce
problems of allergy. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma,
allergic rhinitis and eczema. Allergy is usually hereditary. So, if you or your
partner has allergy problems, then exclusive breastfeeding is important. Breast
milk is very unique because it changes every day and also every feed. The
nutrient components change all the time to provide the right nutrition for every
age and requirement. Mothers with premature babies would produce milk with
different nutrients compare to mothers with mature babies, which also would be
different from mothers with babies aged three months old. This would result in
better absorption of nutrient from the baby and thus, a healthier baby. Breast
feeding also builds a strong bond between mother and child. This bond is
usually long lasting.
Human breast milk is the preferred milk
for all babies. It is the food that is least likely to cause allergy. It is
free. It is readily available anytime of the day. Babies accept the taste
readily. It has antibodies that help babies fight infection. And the joy of
breastfeeding will live in your memories forever.
Benefits of breastfeeding to my
Breastfeeding can reduce your risk for
breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterus cancer. That is why women who never
got pregnant and thus never breastfed are at highest risk of breast, ovarian
and uterus cancer. It is also a form of contraception, especially exclusive
breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding inhibits ovulation and thus there is no
menstruation nor pregnancy.
Benefits for families and society
Breast milk is free. That saves the
family budget as formula milk is quite costly nowadays.
Breastfeeding also save
health care cost as babies are less likely to fall sick and mothers are less
likely to need to take leave from work to take care of sick babies.
Breastfeeding also gives more convenience, especially when you go shopping or
on holiday. There is no need to pack milk powder, bottles, hot and cold water
or sterilizer everywhere you go. Night feeds cold also easier. You do not need
to wake up to prepare milk to feed your baby. You can feed your baby while
lying on a bed, and sleep while your baby is still breastfeeding.
There is no time limit or time frame.
Breastfeeding gives the baby security. Babies usually will stop breastfeeding
on their own when they feel secure. This age varies with every baby. Some
babies may refuse breastfeeding as early as six months while some may still be
breastfeeding until six years.
However, WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding
for six months and continue breastfeeding until two years old.
This will give
all the important benefits to both mother and baby.
What is exclusive breastfeeding ?
Exclusive breastfeeding means feeding
the baby breast milk as the only source of food. This is important for the
purpose of contraception as well as to reduce the chances of allergy and
Tiredness and lack of sleep is the
commonest problem. No one can replace a mother when it comes to breastfeeding.
To reduce tiredness, spouse and other family members play a very important
role. Try to get someone else to help with other house work.
It is also very important
to learn how to breastfeed while lying on a bed. By lying down, you can sleep
off while your baby is feeding. This will give you some rest. Breastfeeding
mothers also always complain of backache. This is due to poor posture during
breastfeeding. Making sure that you sit with your back straight can prevent
this problem. Bring the baby higher up rather than bending your body forward is
the right thing to do.
A breastfeeding pillow can help to bring the baby higher
How to ensure successful breastfeeding
First, you need to have positive
thoughts regarding breastfeeding. Your spouse and other family members should
be supportive as well. Talk to them in advance about your desire to breastfeed
and how they can help you. Attend a class on breastfeeding. Most mothers think
that breastfeeding is simple and are not aware that they may face many
problems. It is important to attend breastfeeding classes to have sufficient
knowledge and skills to breastfeed.
Plan your delivery in a breastfeeding-
friendly hospital. It is very important to enquire from other mothers who have
delivered in the hospital. Your obstetrician also plays a role. A
lactation-trained obstetrician can help you solve your breastfeeding issues
during the first few days after birth. Some medications can also help increase
Lastly, you need to know who to consult for help in case you face
problems breastfeeding. There are many lactation hotlines or clinics to go to
in case you have problems.
Common reasons for failure to
is the commonest reason for failure.
Mothers who failed to breastfeed always complain that they do not have milk or
do not have enough milk. This is usually due to early mixing with formula milk
or a misconception of breastfeeding. I have seen many mothers with a lot of
milk complaining that their baby did not get enough milk because they see that
their baby is always hungry for milk. Human babies are dependable mammals. So,
they are attached to the breast most of the time for milk as well as for
to feed is another common reason. The main
reason for this is early exposure to bottle feeding. Sucking from a bottle is
easier than sucking from a breast. Once exposed to the bottle, some babies
refuse to suck on the breast because they now know that there are other easier
alternative. That is why giving birth in a breastfeeding – friendly hospital is
very important to avoid being exposed to the bottle too prematurely.
face any problems at home, try and consult a lactation consultant before giving
up on breastfeeding and giving the baby the bottle. It will be difficult to
breastfeed again if you regret and wish to breastfeed back later.
from spouse and other family members / confinement lady are
also important. Some mothers wish to breastfeed but if everyone around her
discourages her, she will fail. That is why you need to talk to everyone around
you before giving birth. If you are going to get a confinement lady, make sure
that she also supports breastfeeding.
do not have enough supply for my baby, what should I do?
First you need to determine whether you really do
not have enough supply or you think you do not have enough supply. Breastfed
babies feed more frequent and therefore many mothers think that they do not
have enough milk but often they are wrong. In order to assess whether you have
enough supply you have to see how often your baby is passing urine or passing
motion and the weight gain. I have seen babies who are already overweight but
their mothers still think that they do not have enough milk supply because
their babies are always crying for milk.
In genuine cases, you need help. We need to know
whether your baby is getting the milk directly from your breast or are you
expressing the milk out. Some medications or herbs can also increase your milk
supply. Night feeding or expressing milk at night between 3am to 6am is also
Our body will produce milk based on the principles
of demand and supply. In general, no one should have insufficient milk supply if
they feed directly from the breast and never gave formula milk right from the
start. If you have given formula milk, you will never get enough milk supply as
the demand was less.
nipple looks inverted, can I still breastfeed?
you can still breastfeed with inverted nipples.
Babies suck on the areola, which is the area around the nipple and not on the
nipple. But, babies need more effort to suck on inverted nipples. So, if you
are not sure whether your nipples inverted, consult your doctor or nurse before
giving birth. If you really have an inverted nipple, you can pull the nipple
out with a special syringe before giving birth and most importantly, never
expose your baby to a bottle in the first month. Your baby will choose the
easier option and will soon refuse the breast.
diet to increase my milk supply?
There is no proven diet to increase your milk
supply. What is most important is to eat and drink enough. You need to drink
more water when breastfeeding. Make sure you drink at least three liters water
a day and also eat three main meals with snacks in between. Going on diet will
also reduce your milk supply.
breastfeeding in public not appropriate? There are many ways to breastfeed in
public without being noticed. If you are observant, you will realize that many
mothers still breastfeed in the public. You can wear a shawl around while
feeding and no one would notice. You can also wear specially designed blouses
so that you can breastfeed unnoticed.