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The amount of the milk and the number of feeds often pose a problem for young mothers, especially those nursing for the first time. Reluctance to feed, less milk, constant crying and swallowing too much of air leading to regurgitation are some of the common problems encountered. Supplementing with outside foods and weaning also constitute questions that most mothers ask.

The following is a handy format explaining each of these problems in a FAQ manner:

Breastfeeding Benefits

Breastfeeding is the best for both mother and infant. During the first year of a newborn’s life, his reliance on his mother is like no other relationship between two people. She provides him with love, warmth, security and comfort and his physical needs she can give him all his essential nourishment from her own breast. Many women prefer to use artificial feeding, at least after the first few days, but those mothers who choose to breast feed find that it can be a source of pleasure and contentment, both for themselves and for their child.

Food is the source of one’s nourishment. The newborn child’s source of nourishment is its mother’s milk. Mother’s milk contains all the baby needs. It is easily digestible and the child gets antibodies to protect it against the infections.

What should be the frequency of feeds?

These days doctors recommend that babies should be fed as often as they seem to want, whether bottle or breast fed. New-born babies usually feed very frequently, around every two hours. Gradually the frequency of feeds becomes less and by about 6 months most babies are satisfied with 4 feeds per day. They may occasionally wake up at night for an extra feed.

My baby is reluctant to feed. What should I do?

Sudden reluctance to feed in an otherwise normal child may be a sign of some illness. Consult your doctor if the baby is less than 3 months old or if it has not fed at all within 3 hours of the usual feeding time.

My baby falls asleep while feeding, but otherwise he behaves normally. Why does this happen?

Lack of interest in feeding is a natural phenomenon in many babies. If the baby is growing normally and gaining weight there is no cause for concern. But if the baby is reluctant to feed and there is slow weight, gain, consult your doctor, there may an underlying illness causing the lack of interest.

My baby starts crying as soon as he starts sucking, why?

Sometimes milk is not immediately released from the breast. The best answer to this problem is to relax. Becoming tense due to crying of the baby may delay the release of milk. Alternatively you may start by expressing a little milk before the feed.

Why does my baby cry immediately after a feed?

Some babies often swallow air during a feed. Those who are eager may greedily gulp the first few feeds. Excess of wind taken in while feeding causes discomfort or colic. It is very important to spend a little time with the child after a feed to bring out the wind by burping.

How do I maintain an adequate milk supply to meet the baby’s needs?

Have a nourishing diet (600-800) calories more than the usual requirement in lactation). Offer the child a feed whenever he demands. If unable to feed the baby, express the milk and it may be given to the child at normal feed times.
Do not get over worked at tired.
Unless there are special occasions avoid giving the baby milk other as sucking stimulates production of milk.

I am not producing enough milk. How do I bottle-feed my baby?

Many artificial milk formulas are available in the market as an alternative. Feeds should always be made up exactly according to the manufacture’s instructions.
Do not add too much milk powder as concentrated milk can be harmful to the baby.
Adding too much water can lead to poor weight gain. Always use boiled water when diluting. Do not keep milk formulas for than 24 hours even in a refrigerator.

I am worried whether my milk supply is adequate for my baby.

If the baby is gaining weight at the expected rate it is the surest sign that the milk supply is adequate. Many mothers worry about inadequate milk because of the frequency with which the child demands or because the babies cry too much.
If the baby is not gaining weight there may be a number of causes for this. You may reed to consult a doctor to decide whether the baby needs an extra supply of milk.

My baby is demanding feeds very frequently. Is there any thing to worry about?

Frequent feeding is perfectly normal especially in the first few weeks. This helps to build up the mother’s milk production and also helps the uterus regain its normal size.
If the mother is too tired to feed the child at night, milk can be squeezed from the breast, kept in a clean bottle and the father can then feed the child.

Do babies require extra drinks?

Normally breast or bottle- fed babies do not require extra drinks in the first 4-6 weeks. However, if the weather is or the milk supply does not satisfy the baby, extra drinks of boiled and cooled water from a sterilized bottle or spoon may be offered.
Later on at the time of weaning, non-milk fluids like plain water, fruit juices and diluted soups or of pulses may be given. Remember not to add sweet syrups or sugars, as they may cause excessive weight gain and tooth decay. Plain water and unsweetened drinks are the best.

Does my baby require vitamin supplements?

As long as the mother’s diet is well balanced, a breast fed baby does not require vitamin supplements. Regarding vitamins, do not give supplements without consulting a doctor as over-enthusiastic vitamin supplementation can be harmful.

After breastfeeding my nipples get sore. What is the reason?

Many women experience some soreness in the first few days of breast feeding. This normally gets better without any treatment. Keep the following things in mind:

  • When you put the baby onto the breast, make sure that the child takes the whole of the nipple and areola (dark coloured area around nipple) into the mouth.
  • If the breasts are over-full encourage the baby to feed frequently. If the baby is not able to put the breasts in the mouth, express a little milk from the nipples as dry as possible between the feeds.
My breasts are painful in one area. What should I do?

This is due to clogging of the milk ducts. Apply moist heat the affected area. Frequent feeding will drain the breasts. Always nurse from the affected breasts. A gentle circular breast massage while nurse may help.

I have got a breast infection. They are hard, red and tender. Should I feed my baby?

Do not stop feeding from the affected breast. On the contrary frequent feeding is necessary. If the symptoms do not decrease within a few days, consult a doctor. Antibiotics may be required.

How do I sterilize a feeding bottle?

Milk is an ideal culture medium for the growth of bacteria. If the bottles are not washed properly, it can causes stomach upsets and diarrhea. Ideally feeding bottles should be boiled before use. Do not boil the nipples but wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water.

I am taking vitamin and iron pills. Do they help fortify my breast milk?

As long as the diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, cereals and calcium rich dairy products, vitamins are not necessary. If, however, one is on a restricted diet or allergic to milk products, supplements may be required. Consult your doctor.

There are many milk formulas available. How do I know which is best for my baby?

All iron-fortified formulas provide adequate nutrition. Formulas based on cow’s milk. Do not give Soya formulas unless recommended by a doctor.

What are the best breastfeeding positions?

Side-lying hold- The mother should lie on the left side with a pillow under her arm. Let the baby lie parallel to the mother’s body so that she can latch on to the left nipple. With the free hand the baby should be supported. Repeat on the other side.

Cradle hold- Let the baby snuggle in the crook of the mother’s arm. The baby should be on a side rather than on her back. A pillow may be placed on the mother’s lap so that she does not have to lean forward and strain her side.

Football hold- The mother should prop a few pillow under her forearm and lay the baby down on her arm with her head on her hand. The baby should be held close to the mother’s body like a football and the baby’s mouth is then brought to the nipple. It is tiring and more pillows may be needed under the arm. Repeat on the other side.

Advantages of breastfeeding?

Less likelihood of gastroenteritis, colds, ear infections and infectious fever.
Less napkin rash.
Less likelihood of allergies now or late.
No worry about constipation.
Convenient at night.
Perfect formula for humans, 10 times less strontium 90 than in cow’s milk.
Less risk of coronary disease later on in adulthood.
Psychological benefits, often quoted, are difficult to assess.

Breastfeeding Weaning

At what age should one start weaning from breastfeeding?

Do not give non-milk foods before 3 months. Then start giving small amounts of thin soups of pulses, rice, and fruit juice once in a day. Never add salt or sugar to the baby’s food. Gradually a variety of foods, commonly used in the house, can be introduced. The milk can be reduced as the intake of other foods increases.

I have been breast feeding my baby, but now I have to join work. How can I make my baby accept the bottle?

Most babies adapt easily to the bottle. In the mother’s absence the spouse, grandmother or a baby sister could offer the bottle. Try bottle feeding the baby when the hungry baby when deprived of the breast may accept the bottle.
It is advisable to introduce bottle feeds of formula milk or breast milk a few days prior to the mother’s joining work. Never introduce the bottle in the first 2-3 weeks after delivery as this may diminish the mother’s milk production.
Moreover, it confuses the baby, since the effort and has a different sucking pattern. Waiting 4-6 weeks at the earliest is ideal before introducing bottle milk as lactation is well established by then.

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