By Dr Nelson Makemba
Evidence suggests that career-driven mothers tend to breastfeed their babies less.
In this article I will attempt to explain the importance of breastfeeding and dispel some myths. It is very interesting to note that in the first six months of life, breastmilk is sufficient for both nourishment and quenching a baby’s thirst. Upon delivery, what often happen is that a mother produces the first or what is often referred to as foremilk (clostrum), which is highly nutritious and fortified with antibodies. Mothers are encouraged to give it to their newborns.
Breastfeeding is still the gold standard for the newborn baby, unless there is a medical condition that prohibits the mother from breastfeeding.
It is ideal for a mother to breastfeed their baby up to one and a half to two years. However, given the busy nature of an adult life, most mothers stop earlier than that. If the mother cannot go for that long and is beyond her control, at least a minimum of six months will be fair enough.
Breastfeeding has a huge number of benefits for little ones such as developing an excellent bond with their mother which helps improve their psychological function, even in adult life. Seeing that nutrients in breastmilk are at their optimum level, there are a few risks associated such as obesity, cholesterol and diabetes. It however reduces the risk of diarrhoea and allergies.
When a mother does not seem to produce sufficient milk, it is advisable to visit a doctor for further assistance. Few contributing factors can be attributed to decreased milk production such as stress, hypo/hyper thyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome or wrong choice of family planning to mention a few, all of which the mother can visit a family doctor for further assistance.
A mother can follow some basics to help enhance milk production, such as feeding the baby on demand or at least every three hours, switching the baby between both breasts while feeding. The mothers’ nutritional status also plays a major role in enhancing milk production, so it is advisable that mothers eat well and stay healthy.
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