Every new mom needs to make the decision whether or not to breastfeed Some women may choose not to breastfeed as a personal decision, others may choose not to due to comfort issues or even lifestyle and work commitments (some working moms may not always enjoy their full maternity leave and find it easier to take a breast pump to work.)
Whatever the reasons, the topic of breastfeeding does come with its own set of opinions and choices. However, the importance of breastfeeding has certainly taken centre stage since it was announced recently that infant formula would no longer be supplied free of charge at government health facilities to mothers who are able to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding in South Africa
We probably all sat up and took note when Health Minister Aaron Motsoaled Motsoaledi announced that South Africa was one of only 12 countries in the world where infant mortality rates were increasing, stating that encouraging new moms to breastfeed was central to a child survival strategy.
Motsoaledi also said that babies aged between nought and six months should only be drinking breast milk. However, according to the 2003 Demographic and Health Survey, only 1.56% of babies in South Africa between those ages were exclusively breastfed.
As a result, the decision was made to stop supplying formula at government hospitals and clinics in a move to promote exclusive breastfeeding.
According to experts, breast milk is the ideal food for baby because it contains a mix of enzymes and antibodies, therefore making it less likely for breastfed babies to have diarrhea, ear infections, respiratory illness, allergies, stomach bugs, and colds. There are many other benefits for breastfeeding your baby, including a reduced risk of childhood diabetes, promoting facial structure development, enhanced speech, straighter teeth and enhancing vision, however, these benefits are not just limited to baby.
A mom who breastfeeds will reportedly have a reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers. You will also develop a special emotional relationship and bond with your child and, in addition to this, breastfeeding can also help your body return to its pre-pregnancy state faster.
Nurse baby as soon as possible
Experts believe that, ideally, a mom should start to breastfeed her baby within a few hours of birth. During pregnancy, colostrum, or your first milk, starts to develop. During the first few days of life, this first milk is important to your baby’s requirements. You will produce only a small amount but it will be enough to satisfy baby as colostrum is very rich and filling. Within a few days of your baby’s birth, your second milk will come in. This is a nutritious mixture of colostrum and breastmilk and has all the vital nutrients your baby needs. As baby develops, so your milk will mature into a more watery substance. What is wonderful about breastfeeding is that your milk naturally adapts and changes according to baby’s requirements.
It is not uncommon for moms to battle to breastfeed their baby. There is a long list of complaints varying from sore, cracked nipples, to low milk production, blocked ducts and leaking breasts. Speak to friends, parents, colleagues and other moms and you will soon find many of them have asked the age old question: If breastfeeding is so natural, why doesn’t it seem to come naturally?
Although breastfeeding may seem like a natural act, it’s not always an easy task. It is important for new moms to understand this. It’s also important for a new mom who is having problems with breastfeeding to speak to an expert in the field. There is also huge online support in the form of community forums and message boards that allow for moms from across the world to express their frustrations and concerns regarding breastfeeding.
Introducing artificial nipples
Giving baby a bottle too soon can cause confusion and could interfere with breastfeeding. For this reason, moms are advised not to introduce artificial nipples (bottles and pacifiers) for the first six weeks of baby’s life. Many moms who have exclusively breastfed baby may experience frustrations, as their baby does not take to a bottle at first. Moms may find they are stuck with this dilemma when they need to return to work.
Experts advise that, if baby won’t take bottle fed formula, moms can try to pump their own breast milk for the first few weeks. This could help baby accept the bottle. It is also advised to introduce baby to the artificial nipple early (from six weeks). This will help get baby familiar with both the breast and artificial nipple.
Relax and enjoy
Time flies by so fast. Being a mom is a wonderful experience. And although it may come with its own set of concerns and worries, be sure to also take the time to sit back, relax, and cherish the time spent with your baby. Soon he or she will be a toppling toddler and you will enter the next phase of parenting.
There is no denying the fact that breastfeeding is best for baby. As one mom stated, artificial milk may not be the liquor of the devil but breast milk is still the best.