How to make breastfeeding an enjoyable journey

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week, themed “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet’”, called for government-private sector partnerships to protect and promote women’s access to breastfeeding counselling.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

Achieving exclusive breastfeeding has been elusive for long due to various challenges. On discharge, some women may not how to breastfeed and are back to hospital within a week with breastfeeding-related problems like dehydration and weight loss. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week, themed “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet’”, called for government-private sector partnerships to protect and promote women’s access to breastfeeding counselling. The most common breastfeeding questions include:

What should you do if a baby refuses the breast?

The common causes are sore mouth due to thrush, being ill or upset, or milk flow being too fast. Do not hold the baby’s head too tightly or push the face towards the breast. It helps to squeeze a little breast milk onto the nipple before latching the baby.

Why do babies choke while breastfeeding?

If the mother has too much milk and it flows too fast for the baby. Express a bit to soften the areola before starting to feed. Only offer one breast per feed.

How should you manage swollen or painful breasts?

This can be caused by either engorgement or mastitis. Both result from an obstruction in milk flow. To treat engorged breasts, encourage the baby to suckle frequently. Placing ice or frozen cabbage leaves onto the breasts between the feeds will help reduce the swelling and a warm shower relieves the discomfort. A mild analgesic like paracetamol can also be helpful. Engorgement may be prevented by letting babies feed as soon as possible after delivery. Mastitis is the inflammation of the breast. To stop this, use a warm compress, rest and take a mild analgesic. If the mastitis becomes infective, the mother should seek medical help .

How do you prevent painful nipples?

Ensure the baby is correctly latched at the breast. Make sure the baby has all of the nipple and most of areola in the mouth when feeding. When removing the baby from the breast, insert your little finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth to break the suction. After each feed, express a little colostrum or hind milk and apply on the nipples to prevent or stop pain or cracks.

Do breastfed babies need complementary feeds?

A mother can continue to breastfeed exclusively for six months and beyond. Most breastfed babies do not need complementary feeds or formula.

Do drugs cross into breast milk?

Almost all drugs a mother takes by mouth will cross into the breast milk. Breastfeeding mothers should only take medication after consultation with their doctor, who should be made aware they are breastfeeding.

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