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All You Need To Know About Breastfeeding

1. Why breastfeeding?

Breast milk is a complete food to meet human infants' nutritional needs i.e. satisfying both hunger and thirst for the first 6 months. Breastfeeding also protects infant against infection and disease. Continued breastfeeding for 2 years is recommended with introduction of appropriate family foods at 6 months of age.


2. What's in it for mothers?

It's convenient, always there fresh, clean and safe, whenever mother needs it. It also helps mother's uterus to return to its normal size after childbirth. Mothers who don't breastfeed have increased risks of breast and ovarian cancer. It also helps create a close bonding between mother and her baby.


3. How soon after birth can mother start to breastfeed?

Babies have a sucking reflex during first one hour after birth, so it's easy to initiate and establish breastfeeding within one hour after delivery. The first yellowish milk, "colostrums" is perfect for newborn's tiny stomach, protects baby against infection, clears meconium and reduces risk of jaundice.


4. What does a mother need to do to initiate breastfeeding?

To facilitate initiation, mother needs hold baby skin-to-skin on her chest and maintain eye contact while supporting baby's whole body. Sign of good attachment are baby's chin touching the breast, mouth wide open, lower lip turned outward and mother should not experience any pain.


5. How often should a mother breastfeed?

Breasts milk production is directly dependent on frequency of baby's sucking i.e. more milk gets removed from the breasts, the more milk body will produce. Baby needs frequent feeding i.e. 8-10 times in 24 hrs. Night-feeding helps prevent mother's breasts becoming too full and uncomfortable.


6. How does a mother know her baby is getting enough?

Milk is enough, if baby is using 5-6 disposable or 6-8 cloth diapers or having 2-5 bowel movements. Mother needs to check if baby is gaining weight and is alert, active and happy. Remember watery foremilk satisfies thirst and creamy hindmilk satisfies hunger, so finish first breast first before offering the other.


7. How can a mother increase her milk supply?

Mother needs to breastfeed her baby more often. Milk will flow more easily if mother is relaxed. This is not easy in the early days when everything is new. Mother needs to sit comfortably, breathe deeply, cuddling her baby skin-to-skin to encourage him to feed more often.


8. Can a mother breastfeed and return to work?

It's best to wait until milk supply is well established, before resuming work. Mother can continue to feed her child by breastfeeding as often as possible when she is with the infant and expressing her breast milk when they are apart so that another caregiver can feed baby in a clean and safe way.


9. What about when mother or baby is sick, is it safe to carry on breastfeeding?

Yes, if mother is sick breast milk will protect baby from the same illness or at least make it milder, just mother needs to drink more fluid to keep her fluid levels up. A big yes, if baby is sick, as breastfeeding will help baby recover more quickly. Breastfeeding is also very comforting for baby when he is ill.


All women have the right to an environment that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding, including the right to protection from commercial pressures to artificially feed their babies. The International Code of Marketing of breast milk substitutes aims to provide the necessary protection by prohibiting the promotion of all breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.


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