Advice Column, Baby, Breastfeeding, Pregnancy & Baby, Recently

The Importance of Breastfeeding and How to Prepare

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  • Category Advice Column, Baby, Breastfeeding, Pregnancy & Baby, Recently

Breastfeeding offers significant health benefits for both mother and child. It provides essential nutrients and antibodies that boost the baby’s immune system and reduce the risk of infections. For mothers, breastfeeding promotes faster postpartum recovery, reduces the risk of certain cancers, and strengthens the bond with their newborn. However, despite these advantages, many new mothers find breastfeeding challenging due to factors such as latch difficulties, inadequate milk supply, or discomfort. Seeking support from lactation consultants, joining breastfeeding support groups, and receiving encouragement from healthcare providers can greatly enhance the breastfeeding experience and overcome these challenges effectively.

Preparing for Breastfeeding

To prepare for breastfeeding, women should:

  1. Attend a Breastfeeding Class: Seek out classes conducted by certified lactation experts to gain knowledge and confidence.
  2. Create a Breastfeeding Plan: Include steps to take immediately after birth, sources of support, and strategies for special needs situations.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding protects babies from major illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, common causes of infant mortality in South Africa. It also promotes better development and educational outcomes. For mothers, breastfeeding aids in uterine contraction and reduces postpartum blood loss.

Common Breastfeeding Challenges

New mothers may encounter various breastfeeding challenges, including:

  • Structural Issues: Tongue or lip problems in the baby.
  • Sore Nipples: Extreme nipple pain is not normal and should be addressed.
  • Latching Difficulties: Immediate action and expert advice are crucial for correcting latching issues.
  • Low Milk Supply: Support and guidance from a lactation specialist can help increase milk production.

Addressing Breastfeeding Problems

For latching problems, it’s essential to identify and resolve issues promptly. Mothers should understand that while some nipple tenderness is normal, persistent pain is not. Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth is critical, as separation can cause anxiety in babies.

Involving Dads in Breastfeeding

Fathers can support breastfeeding by attending classes and assisting with baby care tasks such as tummy time, burping, diaper changes, and helping the mother relax with small gestures like making tea or running a bath.

Respecting Individual Choices

While breastfeeding has many health benefits, it’s important to recognise that feeding choices vary. Some mothers may choose not to breastfeed for various reasons, and they should not feel ashamed or guilty. The priority is a feeding plan that works best for both mother and baby.

Tips for Continuing Breastfeeding After Returning to Work

Returning to work can disrupt a breastfeeding routine. Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

  1. Delay Pumping: Avoid pumping breast milk before the first six weeks, as this time is needed for your body to regulate milk production.
  2. Calculate Milk Needs: Most women produce about 900ml of breast milk daily. Determine your baby’s feeding frequency and calculate the amount of milk to pump accordingly.
  3. Introduce Bottles Later: Introduce bottles a couple of weeks before returning to work.
  4. Coordinate with Employer: Discuss your need to pump at work to manage full breasts.
  5. Understand Milk Storage: Be aware that while frozen milk loses some protective properties, it remains preferable to formula.
  6. Breastfeed on Demand: Nurse on demand during weekends and plan for increased nighttime nursing.

By preparing ahead and addressing potential challenges, mothers can have a more positive and successful breastfeeding experience.

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