by Marshaneil Soumi D’ Rozario
Breast milk is a gift from God for new mothers and has a unique composition. It is the only food for babies for the first six months of their life, so it is important to know how to breastfeed a baby using the correct technique. A faulty technique may lead to problems for mothers, like back pain, engorgement of the breast, fever, etc. Malnutrition among babies leads to frequent neonatal infection, poor weight gain and less of an emotional attachment to the mother. Dr. Peeyoosh Rankhamb, Consultant, Pediatrics & Neonatology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, shares his knowledge about the effective positions of breastfeeding for young mothers.
Any position that is comfortable to the mother is acceptable, keeping in mind that her back should be supported. There are many ways a mother can hold a baby for feeding like Indian method, cradle position, modified cradle position, side-lying position (it is a common myth that mother should not breastfeed a baby in lying down position which is not correct), etc.
In all the positions the baby’s whole body should face the mother, the baby’s head and neck should be supported in a straight line with his body and should face the breast. Good attachment at the breast ensures enough production, release, and flow of milk to the baby. For effective breastfeeding, the mother should have the baby with her day and night from the time of birth. A normal baby should be put on the mother’s abdomen or chest within 30 minutes of birth, as it keeps the baby warm and provides an opportunity for the baby to begin to feed. This also provides an essential opportunity for bonding.
The mother should be encouraged to identify hunger cues and feed promptly rather than allowing the baby to cry for a feed. Fast feeders are the babies who empty the breast in 5-6 minutes, while slow feeders may take 15 - 20 minutes. The baby takes in a higher volume of foremilk which is watery, high in lactose, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water content, as it satisfies the baby’s thirst. The hindmilk which is richer in fat, satisfies the hunger of the baby and supplies more energy required for healthy growth. Therefore, a baby should be allowed to feed for whatever time it requires. When the baby releases the first breast spontaneously the mother should offer the second breast. A satisfied baby will not feed at the second breast. Feeding on the second breast should be done at a subsequent feed, thus helping both breasts to continuously produce adequate milk.
After nursing is over, a baby must be helped to break wind, i.e. burping, as all babies swallow some air while feeding. This can be achieved by holding the baby erect over the mother’s shoulder or by seating the baby on the mother’s lap and patting or rubbing the baby on the back. If this is not done, the excessive air in the stomach can cause regurgitation/vomiting, and if the air reaches the intestine it can cause discomfort and colic.
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