Breastfeeding: 7 Most Asked Crucial Questions
Concluding World Breastfeeding Week (observed from 1st to 7th August every year), we caught up with Dr Sunil Gupta to get a paediatrician’s point of view on breast feeding. A senior consultant at Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, he answers frequently asked questions about breastfeeding.
How Important Is It To Breastfeed A Newborn? Until What Age Should A Child Be Breastfed?
New borns should be exclusively breastfed, unless the doctor advises against it. Some important benefits of breastfeeding your baby are:
- The infant benefits from the colostrums which acts as a laxative, naturally cleaning the infant’s stomach.
- Breast milk strengthens a baby’s immune system, protecting them against allergies and other diseases.
- Breast milk works as a whole food for the infant. It contains all the vital nutrients in the right quantities. This helps support growth and good health in your baby, especially in the first 6 months.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all babies should be exclusively breastfed for six months. Post 6 months, appropriate foods can be introduced into the baby’s diet, in conjunction with breast milk. This routine is prescribed up to two years or longer, based on parents’ discretion.
Is Breastfeeding Beneficial For Mothers?
There are a number of benefits, emotional and physical, that make breastfeeding a good undertaking for mothers.
- Many mothers express feeling fulfilment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while breastfeeding. This is due to the release of hormones like prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin produces a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows you to relax and focus on your child. Oxytocin promotes a strong sense of love and attachment between the mother and child.
- Also, mothers who decided to breastfeed are able to recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. The hormone oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, helps to return the uterus to its regular size more quickly than normal.
- Women who have breastfed experience reduced rates of ovarian and breast cancer later in life, as compared to others.
- Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. These include high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
- The most advantageous benefit of breastfeeding is that it delays the return of the mother’s menstrual period, which can help extend the time between pregnancies.
Does Late Pregnancy Affect The Quality Of A Mother’s Breast Milk?
Unfortunately, yes. As more and more women delay and attempt pregnancy post the age of 30, other than conception, the quality of breast milk also suffers.
Just like your fertility decreases as you age, the quality of milk you produce deteriorates. This in turn leads to the child underfeeding, which ultimately impacts the infant’s early growth because he/she isn’t able to reap the benefits of good quality breast milk.
How Can Mothers Manage Sore Nipples During Or Post Breastfeeding?
Improper latching is one of the most common reasons of nipple pain and soreness.
During the time of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to seek the guidance and care of a lactation consultant. They are equipped to teach you the right techniques to encourage deep latching.
Sore and painful nipples, while common, vary from person to person. Some mothers experience tenderness and soreness, while some feel sharp pain that could be accompanied by itching. Also, many nursing mothers tend to wash their nipples before feeding for hygiene. Unfortunately, this may aggravate dryness, soreness and pain. Here are some tips to reduce soreness:
- Don’t feel compelled to wash your nipples before/after every feed.
- Nipple pain which is caused by friction may be prevented by wearing smooth synthetic fabrics.
- A properly fitted sports bra can help provide adequate support to breasts full of milk.
- There are also protective products that help with nipple soreness. These include cold compresses, gel pads, and nipple shields you can wear inside your bra.
How Can Mothers Treat Engorgement?
Breast engorgement can develop pretty quickly at any point during lactating. It is more common when a mother’s milk first comes in, and usually two to six days after a baby is born. Some women may also notice a little fullness during this time, while for others the engorgement can be more significant.
These are the following tips that can help to prevent breast engorgement from occurring later on in your motherhood journey:
1. Drink plenty of water:
Water helps to keep the lymphatic system working efficiently. This will help with engorgement.
2. Nurse early post birth:
After birth, breastfeed your baby as soon as possible. Keep doing so every two to three hours. This will prevent the breasts from overfilling.
3. Don’t schedule breastfeeding:
Feed your baby on cue, whenever he or she is hungry. Let him or her fully empty first before switching her to the other breast.
4. Make sure you baby has a good latch:
If your baby is not able to effectively empty your breast after feeding, it can lead to a buildup of milk. Meet with a lactation consultant to determine whether you baby has a good latch or not.
Can You Breastfeed If You’ve Had A Breast Reduction Or Augmentation Surgery?
Breast augmentation (implants) or reduction are surgical procedures that aim to increase or decrease the size, shape or fullness of the breast.
In fact, cosmetic breast augmentation or reduction is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures worldwide.
How they affect a mother’s milk supply varies. If a woman got breast implants simply because she wanted to increase her breast size, she usually is able to breastfeed. This is thanks to new and advanced surgical techniques that don’t disrupt milk supply.
It all depends on how the implants were put in. Most of them are inserted through a small incision under the breast and placed under the muscle. In such cases, there shouldn’t be a problem with breastfeeding.
Can You Breastfeed Someone Else’s Child? What About Breastfeeding An Adopted Child?
It is okay to breastfeed someone else’s child. In fact, breastfeeding an adopted baby is also recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics.
Breastfeeding an adopted child is different than breastfeeding your own child after being pregnant. It can be achieved through the process of induced lactation.