The power of breast milk is underestimated, contains antibodies that help fight of viruses and bacteria, easy to digest, and also gives that 18 karat shiny skin for the newborn .
The WHO have recommended that every child be breastfed exclusively no food or water for the first six months of their lives despite this,researcheshave shown that 38 percent of infant less than 6 months are breastfed.
The trend of exclusive breastfeeding among infant less than 6 months in developing countries has taken over a decade to increase from 33 percent in 1995 to 39 percent in 2010.
” Exclusively breastfed babies are usually not chubby ” this is the statement some mothers give as reply when asked why they are not practicing Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF) and this statement is nothing but a total fallacy, when I gave birth my baby was underweight weighing just 2kg despite being full term I already made up my mind to practice EBF and I never regretted it, the least weight my baby gained per month was 800g and even during the first week of birth he didn’t lose weight despite the fact that most newborns lose weight during this period.
The reason an infant that less than 6 months that is being breastfed exclusively is not gaining weight could be that the child isn’t latching properly on the breast, the mother is not producing enough milk, or the mother doesn’t breastfeed long enough for the baby to get adequate nutrients from the milk.
Hard, engorged breast and large or flat nipples, tongue tie or cleftblio and palate could be what is preventing the child from latching properly on the breast .
Ensure your babybsuckle on each breast for at least 15 minutes or more or when ever the baby no longer show interest by removing the mouth from the nipple, also ensure baby is awake while sucking.
As a mother you need to eat well and stay hydrated to be able to produce adequate breast milk, some claim alcohol increases prolactin, the hormone responsible for breast milk production however, the dangers outweigh the benefit that the alcohol may provide.
Alcohol does pass into the breast milk and it could affect your baby, there are safer ways to increase breast milk production, if as a mother you are still worried you can visit a pediatrician .
Being a working mum can be very stressful as breastfeeding itself is a full-time job, most places of work in Nigeria give only 3 months of maternity leave some even give less, some states like Lagos State have increased the length to 6 months (kudos to them) we hope other states and places of work would follow such example.
The length of maternity leave is what hindered most women from practicing EBF, but I will advise working mums not to let that discourage them as breast milk can be expressed and stored, to make it easier get a breast pump preferable the one that can be charged or the electrical one they work like magic, ensure the breast milk is properly stored, always label it with the date it was expressed and when taking to your child’s daycare label it by writing your child’s name and give the care giver proper instructions on how to go about the feeding, ensure you enroll your child in a good daycare to avoid stories that touch.
Storing the breast milk strange to some but it can actually be done and it’s just as healthy giving a child the milk from the breast directly but there are rules to be followed to ensure you are not poisoning the child rather than feeding.
Whenever you are ready wash your hands and the pumping kit properly, label the bottle the milk is being stored with the date of expression then you start pumping , ensure you space of about a inch in the milk bottle because breast milk expand as it freezes, then you put in your freezer or refrigerator do not store in the door of the refrigerator as this could affect the quality of the milk due to continue opening of the refrigerator, If you can afford it I will advise for a separate refrigerator or freezer for the milk so as to avoid continuous opening.
Freshly expressed milk can stay up to 4hrs at room temperature before it looses it’s quality, in the refrigerator, it can stay up till 4days while it can last as long as 6months in the freezer, use any left over milk(that the child did finish at one feeding) looses it’s quality after 2 hours. Always thaw the breast milk first and the oldest first.
Remember “first in, first out (FIFO)”, to the the milk you bring it out from the refrigerator or freezer and set in a container of warm or Luke warm water or under a Luke warm running water, never thaw breast milk in the microwave as this act can destroy the nutrients and can create hot spots which can burn the baby’s mouth.
Never refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed and it should be used within 24hours. Do not forget to label the bottle with your child’s name and given instructions on the feeding process if your child would in care of a childcare provider.
Breast milk do not need to be warmed, it can be served at room temperature or cold, but if you decide to warm the breast milk you put in a container of warm water for a few minutes do not hear directly on the stove or microwave, check the temperature by putting few drops on your wrist before feeding it to the child, swirl the bottle to mix the fat, if the baby didn’t finish the milk ensure the milk is used within 2 hours after feeding or else you discard it.
Breast feeding reduces the chances of having breast and ovarian cancer in mother’s, helps the uterus return to its size faster and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth, it is economical and also increases bond between mother and child.
Several researches have shown that EBF babies have fewer hospital trips during the first 6 months of life and some studies have linked breastfeeding to higher IQ scores in later childhood. It helps the child gain the right amount of weight rather than being overweight.
Losing a mother at birth might be what denied some children from being breastfed but this can actually be solved by what is called WET NURSING, a situation whereby a mother breastfeed the child that is not Her’s, for this to be done the child’s guardian must be in support and also the Wet Nurse(the mother that wants to help with breastfeeding) should ensure necessary medical tests are carried out such as HIV test,Hep.B and any other recommended by the pediatrician to ensure the child’s safety.
With all these being said the decision of EBF for 6 months is up to the Mother of the child,because trust me it’s not an easy decision especially with job, naysayers that keeping telling you your child is not satisfied, mother -in-law giving you that bad mother side eye, and the child feeding for countless number of time but you have to weigh the benefits and I believe if you think we’ll you will definitely choose EBF for 6 months.
Be confident and it will be easier beyond your imagination.