World Breastfeeding Week: Why awareness about breastfeeding is necessary

Breastfeeding is often underestimated and new mothers find it difficult to carry out the most important task as they feel constantly uncomfortable

Gita HariUpdated: Saturday, July 30, 2022, 11:12 PM IST
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World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 to 7) is an annual celebration. It is commemorated to spread awareness of the transformation that can come about if family, community, health and education services and workplaces help new mothers and support breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding, the first powerhouse of nutrients for the baby, is often underestimated due to lack of information, unsupportive partners and demanding family members, besides aesthetic, and many other reasons. It is necessary to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for a healthy physical foundation for future generations.

Breast milk is nourishing, natural sustenance for the newborn, which is easily digestible for the immature gastro-intestinal tract, offers immunity, and protection from infections and disease.

Support new moms

Breastfeeding is not always easy or instant as each session can prevail between 10 minutes to an hour with nearly all neonates who feed eight to 12 times a day.

Mumbai-based Nutritionist Vidula Desai suggests, “As a spouse or family member, one should help a new mother as much as one can. Goad her on to drink lots of water and fluids like fruit juices, soups, and milk. Ensure healthy food is handy at all times for the mother as she needs to replenish her energy constantly.”

While feeding, provide her with eatables or water, and make her comfortable by offering an extra cushion or pillow. “Keep away interferences and interruptions like meddlesome elder siblings, telephone callers, visitors or four-legged friends. The husband needs to be patient and understanding if she doesn’t feel like getting intimate,” directs Life Coach Geet Batra.

Shyness or reserve does not allow nursing mothers to talk about their problems like excess or inadequate breastmilk, sore nipples, mastitis and blocked milk ducts. Health care professionals and family members are required to be supportive and help her voice her problems without inhibitions.

Latching implies how the infant attaches itself to the mother’s breast for comfortable and optimum feeding. A calm and relaxed setting is most important. Obstetrician Dr Bharati Khurana, Cloud Nine Hospital Noida, advises, “Hold your baby skin to skin. Do not force the latch but support the child. His/her chest should rest against your body and the chin touch your breast. You should feel at ease without any pinch.”

Tips for new moms

  • The initial days are best to get the proper position and to attain the right attachment for breastfeeding as the breast is still soft with colostrum. Once it turns into mature milk, breasts become firm

  • Only breastmilk for the first six months, no other fluids

  • Feed on demand. The baby will feed anywhere between eight and 12 times a day

  • Weight gain and more diaper changes indicate that the baby is well fed

  • In case you have to get back to work, you can express milk and keep it with the newborn’s caretaker for feedings

-Dr. Pushpa Srinivasan, a senior gynaecologist from Bangalore

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