Sunday, July 31, 2011

National Breastfeeding Week August 1 to 4: Breastfeeding brings the best benefits

Courtesy Sunday Observer  By Nilma Dole
Breastfeed points
There are three important ways to hold your baby. The cradle position is popular where you put your baby’s head on the side of your arm. Then support your baby’s back and bottom with your arm and hand like a cradle and your baby will now be lying sideways with baby’s face to your breast. The football position consists of tucking your baby under your arm like a football resting on your hand. Support your baby’s body with your forearm. This may be a good position if you’re recovering from a caesarean section or if your baby is very small. You can also lie on your side with your baby facing you.
?The signs that your baby is getting enough milk is that the baby acts satisfied after each feeding, gains weight constantly after the first three to seven days after birth, has about six to eight wet nappies a day, has about two to five or more stools a day at first and then may have two or less a day.
? Feed your baby as often as he or she wants to be fed as this may be eight to 12 times a day or more. How often your baby wants to feed may change over time as he or she goes through growth spurts. Growth spurts occur at about 2 weeks and six weeks of age and again at about three months and six months of age.
? Let your baby nurse until he or she is satisfied. This may be for about 15 minutes to 20 minutes at each breast. Try to have your baby nurse from both breasts at each feeding. The box lists the signs to watch for so you’ll know your baby is getting enough milk. If you’re nursing fewer than eight times a day, be especially aware of these signs.
Courtesy :
Sri Lanka is a leader in promoting breastfeeding awareness not only within the region but outside as well, said UNICEF Country Representative, Reza Hossaini at an event to mark National Breastfeeding Week at the Castle Hospital.
Even though Sri Lanka has been maintaining high figures in breastfeeding statistics, it is imperative that these figures are maintained. He said: “Sri Lanka should be proud of achieving MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) ahead of others in the region but this does not mean they should take it for granted but keep working at these figures.”
It will not only be the Government’s role in advocating breastfeeding but primary health care workers to pregnant mothers too should be educated on the importance on breastfeeding.
In times of modernisation where there are plenty of career-oriented women, there needs to be more emphasis on breastfeeding and maternity leave to suit the working lifestyles. Today, women are sometimes the sole breadwinners so it is important for companies to recruit women based on their skills and not on whether they are a burden to the company for taking maternity leave.
“What is important is that Sri Lankan mothers should know that breastfeeding is compulsory for six months from the time of the birth of their child and it is vital that we advocate a good strategy in order to offer working mothers the benefit of a maternity leave or nursing breaks,” said Dr. Deepthi Perera of the Family Health Bureau.
She said that it is a benefit for a company where a woman will take paid maternity leave to breastfeed which will save an immense cost later. “Rather than taking leave to care for a child, a woman should take her allocated maternity leave. This is a small price to pay to ensure that they bring up a healthy child,” she said.
Moreover, Sri Lanka was the first to raise the importance of breastfeeding as early as the 1970s and it has been in the news ever since. Today, the Western world now only realises the importance of breastfeeding after bottlefeeding their babies for several years due to modernising too quickly.
It is apparent that the health benefits of breastfeeding is high especially when the child grows older. “It is known that breastfeeding for as much as one year can increase the immunity of a child and there is the less chance of the child becoming obese or having juvenile diabetes,” said Dr. Perera.
According to the doctor, breastfeeding contains antibodies in the form of colostrum which helps the baby fight diseases which is vital for not only physical development but mental development too.
“The relationship between baby and mother is more and there is mental satisfaction when the child feels close to their mother,” she said.
Sri Lanka’s impressive maternal mortality rates where there are hardly any maternal deaths in childbirth is a good boost to taking breastfeeding awareness to the next level.
However, while the topic of maternal nutrition is addressed, malnutrition in children tends to be common after six months because mothers do not know what to give the child to eat and how to train the child to eat.
Senior Consultant at UNICEF and government medical doctor, Dr. Deepika Attygalle said that semi-solids should be given at the early age as opposed to the liquid food such as porridge or mashed rice.
“Then the child will use their teeth and gums to start to eat. By the time they reach the age of two, adult food can be given because the child needs nutrition more than milk,” she said. Dr. Attygalle said that the problem of malnutrition is not because of lack of food but lack of giving the right food to the child.
“As medical professionals, we are always glad to assist would-be mothers so please be careful of taking other people’s advice especially those who aren’t qualified.
"As doctors we know best and it’s our duty to educate our mothers not only on breastfeeding but also proper nutrition,” she said.
Speaking at the event was Deputy Health Minister who said, “As a son, I’ve valued my mother and can say that I’ve achieved success because of having mother’s milk when I was born.
"I hope this trend continues because it’s not just for the government to spread awareness but mothers should be educated and ask for advice from those who know because their child’s health is at stake,” he said.