Breastfeeding Tips

The theme for the world breastfeeding week this year was: “Support Breastfeeding for a better planet”. The theme focused on the impact of infant breastfeeding on the environment/climate change and the urgent need to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of our planet and the people who live on it.

Kilimani Children’s Clinic joined the rest of the world to emphasize the link between breastfeeding and a safe, healthy, green environment.

What are the advantages of breastfeeding in relation to the above theme?

Breastmilk is the best food for babies. Both the mother and the baby benefit from breastfeeding in many ways. It is recommended that the baby breastfeeds exclusively for the first 6 months (no water no formula), and breastfeeding should be continued even during introduction of weaning foods until the baby is 2 years and even beyond.

The following are some of the advantages that breastfeeding has to the baby and the mother:

  • Breast milk is CHEAP. A mother does not need to buy and measure formula or sterilize the nipples, or to warm bottles. This saves the mother time and Money
  • Breastmilk is safe, Being clean and containing antibodies, breast milk helps protect the infant from common childhood illnesses. That means that they are less sick which in turn means fewer hospitalizations. Parents do not need to take time off work and purchase costly medicines for the baby when they are breastfed.
  • Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients. A growing infant needs a lot of nutrients and energy to enable optimal for the first months of life. Breast milk continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of their first year, and up to one third during the second year of life. Forget nutritional supplements – breastmilk is all that is needed for an infant to grow healthy and strong.
  • Breastfed infants are more likely to have the right weight gain. While guaranteeing proper weight gain, breastfeeding lowers, the risk of childhood obesity and makes them less prone to Type (II) diabetes later in life.
  • Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests,
  • Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having allergies.
  • Breastfed infants have shown to have a better sleep pattern compared to formula-fed infants. This is because breastmilk contains hormones and other components which improve the growing baby’s sleep-wake patterns. Ample sleep is a crucial component of an infant’s development.
  • Breastfeeding is good for the psychological health of both the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding mothers have increased amounts of oxytocin, a hormone that encourages relaxation, caregiving and promotes the bond between the mother and the baby.  Breastfeeding mothers are therefore are less likely to develop postpartum depression. On top of this breastfeeding has a calming effect on the babies when they are upset or in pain.
  • Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast, ovarian cancers and Type (II) Diabetes.
  • Breastfeeding has been shown to mothers lose weight. In some instances, exclusive breastfeeding has been shown to be a natural weight lose mechanism. On top of this, breastfeeding is associated with a natural (though not fail-safe) method of birth control. Breastfeeding can guarantee up to 98% protection after the first 6 months of the months.

Maintaining adequate breastmilk supply

A mother can maintain adequate breast milk supply by:

  • Having good nutrition is the first step towards maintaining breast milk supply. A breastfeeding mother must have a balanced diet and maintain good hydration at all times. The phrase “Eat for one but drink for two” only emphasizes the importance of good hydration.
  • Express the surplus breast milk and store it appropriately for future use when required
  • Breastfeeding on demand encourages the mother’s body to produce more milk. The more you breastfeed the more milk you produce. This, however, goes hand in hand with good nutrition.

The different types of breast milk.

There are several types of breastmilk each of which have unique benefits to both the infant and the mother. They are:

  • Colostrum (liquid gold). This is produced in the late stages of pregnancy until approximately 3-4 days after delivery. It is high in protein, calories and is also rich in antibodies.
  • Transitional milk. Produced from approximately day 4-10, Transitional milk is lower in protein composition than colostrum
  • Mature milk. This is produced from day 10 until the termination of breastfeeding. Mature milk contains foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is high in volume, water and lactose but low in fat. Hindmilk is lower in volume and higher in fat.

The correct time length of a breastfeeding session that will enable a baby to obtain all the mature breastmilk types varies from mother to mother and from baby to baby. However, it is advisable that the mother breastfeeds until the breast is empty. Should the baby sleeps off before the breast is empty, they should be put back in that breast when the next feed is due.

How do you know that baby is getting enough breast milk?

There are several factors that should be considered to ascertain in a baby is being properly breastfed or not.

Good weight gain per day
This is measure by a doctor. They are is able to calculate for you your baby’s weight gain per day and give proper advise.

Stools appearance.
A properly breastfed baby’s stool should have a mustard yellow colour and appear seedy. Most mothers tend to confuse this with diarrhoea or infection in which case it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Good Urine output by the baby
This might be the most important indicator of adequate breastfeeding and can be determined by the number of Wet diapers per day. A baby with good Urine output should have an average of 7 wet diapers per 24hrs.

Baby’s mood
A baby who is satisfied is happier, and brighter, and is more active, whereas a hungry baby is irritable, cries a lot and may have a scaphoid abdomen. If your baby is still irritable despite feeding them well and despite other discomforts having been ruled out, it is time to consult your doctor for a proper examination.

Do you know about Expressed Breastmilk(EBM)

Expressed breastmilk (EBM) is an important option that can help work around the inconveniences that might make direct breastfeeding difficult.

Expressed breastmilk (EBM) is an important option that can help work around the inconveniences that might make direct breastfeeding difficult.
After expression, breast milk should be stored in a clean container and placed away from direct sunlight.

EBM can stay at room temperature (without refrigeration) for about 4-5hrs, in a refrigerator (at the back, not close the door) it can stay for 36 hours. In a fridge freezer, Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) is viable for 3 months and 6 to 8 months if stored in a deep freezer.
When the Breastmilk is removed from the freezer, it should first be thawed without the use of direct heat. It should be transferred into a clean feeding bottle, which can be warmed by placing it in a larger container of hot liquid until the bottle feels lukewarm.

Always avoid using microwaves and direct heat to warm breastmilk as this will denature the proteins that the baby needs to grow healthy and strong.
After the baby has fed, any remaining EBM should not be re-frozen.

Is your baby acting differently before and after breastfeeding?

If you have been breastfeeding your baby but they are experiencing any of the following, it is important that you consult your doctor for further examination.

  • Not passing urine
  • Refusal to breastfeed
  • Lethargic
  • Persistent yellowing of eyes beyond 1 week of life

A breastfeeding mother who is experiencing any of the following should also consult her doctor or Lactation Specialist:

  • Severe engorgement
  • Chills and fever
  • Sharp shooting pain in the breast
  • Cracked nipples
  • A lump that does not ease off after feeding the baby

Can a Mother with COVID-19 breastfeed her baby?

While there is no scientific evidence of transmission of the COVID-19 virus through breast milk and breastfeeding, it is important to take precautions:
While breastfeeding, a mother should still observe appropriate hygiene precautions, including washing her hands, wearing a medical mask if available. The purpose of all these measures is to reduce the possibility of droplets with COVID-19 being spread to her infant. It is also advisable to have another caregiver to assist in caring for the baby when they are not being breastfed.

COVID-19 infection is typically mild or asymptomatic in babies. However, the consequences of not breastfeeding and separation between mother and child can be very significant as explained above. Check previous posts for a full list of the benefits of breastfeeding.

Since COVID-19 in infants and children represents a much lower threat to survival and health than other infections, breastfeeding is highly recommended even with mothers with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19.

What if the Mother is severely ill with COVID 19, should they still breastfeed?

If a mother is severely ill with COVID-19 or suffers from other complications that prevent her from caring for her infant or continuing direct breastfeeding, she should express milk to safely provide breast milk for the infant.

Should the mother be too unwell to breastfeed or express breastmilk, the possibility of re-lactation (restarting breastfeeding after a gap) should be explored. A Doctor will advise appropriately.

Breastfeeding is the sure path to both a society of healthy bubbly baby and equally health mothers. Let us support our breastfeeding mothers and build a healthier more prosperous society.

Do you know any breastfeeding mother around you? Share these tips with them and together we can build a healthy society.