Monday, 10 August 2015

Benefits of Breastfeeding to my Baby

Benefits of Breastfeeding to my Baby

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 health
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 diarrhea.

Breastfeeding problems
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 up.

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 milk supply. 

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 breastfeed
Ignorance 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 security.

Refusal 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. 

When you 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.

Support 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.
a)      I 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 important.
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.
b)      My 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.
c)      Any 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.
d)     Is 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.

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