By Riya Joseph
A lot of first-time mothers often find themselves in challenging situations as they try to navigate the many facets of motherhood. Breastfeeding is one of the first changes new mothers experience upon the birth of their babies. As such, it becomes extremely important for them to know about certain basic dos and don’ts that will help them in their new journey.
Gynaecologists Dr Neelima V Nair from Sree Gokulam Medical College and Dr Sandhya Nataraj from TSC Hospital, Kazhakkoottam shared insights into the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding newborns.
“Mothers are recommended to exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months after delivery. Colostrum, the first milk produced by a mother, is slightly yellowish in colour and rich in nutrients essential for an infant’s development. It contains immunoglobulins which boosts immunity in children and is also easily digestible for infants. On average, babies are breastfed till up to two years of age. Baby formulas and supplements are not encouraged while breast feeding,” Dr Nair told indianexpress.com.
Experts pointed out that the health and well-being of the mother is also paramount during this period, and it is important for them to consume foods that are rich in protein. “Mothers should also ensure adequate intake of calcium in the diet which can be taken in the form of milk or through additional calcium supplements. Vegetables like drumstick are very good for establishing lactation. Meat, fish, eggs and pulses are also essential for a balanced diet. Home-cooked food is highly recommended by gynaecologists during this period,” Dr Natarajan told indianexpress.com.
The gynaecologists explained babies follow a demand feeding schedule and they should be fed whenever they signal for milk. “Underweight babies are recommended to be fed every two to three hours. While in normal cases they can be fed as soon as they are awake and crying. On average, babies should be breastfed 8-12 times a day for a period of 8-20 minutes,” they said.
They added that in the absence of breast milk, infants can still receive milk from breast milk banks. “Top feeds are supplements used in place of breast milk and is an alternative choice to breast milk, although it is not highly recommended,” they noted.
Only necessary medication should be taken while breastfeeding and it must be taken only after consulting with the doctor, they stressed.
Dr Neelima recommended breast pumps to help working mothers pump and store milk to use at a later time.
Breastfeeding often times results in cracked nipples and can be treated using ointments. “Cold tea bags can also provide a soothing effect when placed over the affected area,” experts said.
“High fever, tenderness over the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple, lumpy feeling in the breast are indicators to look out for while breastfeeding and must be brought to the attention of a physician immediately,” said the experts.
(The writer is an intern with indianexpress.com)