The question that is often asked – ‘why breastfeed?’. SMASA sheds some light on the various benefits of breastfeeding – for you and your newborn.
Immediate health benefits for breastfed babies:
– Increased resistance to infections.
– Earlier development of the infant immune system.
– Decreased risk of ear infections, diarrhoea and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
– Baby is less likely to be hospitalised due to serious illnesses.
Long-term health benefits for breastfed babies:
– Less likely to experience childhood obesity.
– Reduced risk of some chronic diseases that develop during childhood including juvenile diabetes, childhood cancers and allergic diseases and asthma.
– Enhanced neurological development that may result in higher IQs and better eyesight.
– Suckling at the breast promotes good jaw development and encourages the growth of straight, healthy teeth.
Immediate health benefits for a mother who breastfeeds:
– The uterus returns to normal size more quickly following child birth and the mother has reduced blood loss.
– Exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of fertility in most women.
– Reduced insulin needs in diabetic mothers.
– Psychological benefits of increased self-confidence and enhanced bonding with the infant.
– Helps mother get needed rest by requiring that she sit or lie down with baby every few hours to feed.
Some women, as much as they want to, are just unable to breastfeed. This could be because of the following reasons:
– Most women produce efficient levels of milk to feed their baby, but some women are unable to generate enough milk and can actually begin to unintentionally starve their baby.
– If the mother is taking certain medications, has a breast infection or abscess, breast cancer or other cancer, has had previous surgery or radiation treatment – this too could hinder efficient milk flow.
– Sometimes the infant is unable to breastfeed because they are premature, too small, have a weak physical condition, difficulty sucking, birth defects of the mouth, or digestive problems.
– Most working women are given only 12 weeks of maternity leave and when they return to work the process of breastfeeding becomes difficult.
If you are unable to breastfeed do not be discouraged – many healthy alternatives are available. Chat to your local healthcare professional for an infant formula that’s best suited to your baby’s needs.
Breast milk is of course made to meet specific needs of babies and offers the best combination of nutrients – easier for babies to digest too. So if you are able to breast feed, offer your baby the best you can while taking care of yourself!
GOOD TO KNOW: Latching techniques
The most important part of successful breastfeedingis the latch. If your baby is not properly latched onto your breast, feedings could be painful. Here are a few techniques you could use to ensure a good latch:
– Sit on a comfortable chair with great back support to feed your baby. Using a stool to rest your feet on will help with good posture and prevent you from straining your neck and shoulders.
– Make sure your baby is tummy-to-tummy with you at all times.
– Make sure you bring your baby to you – do not try to lean into your baby. Not only will this cause severe strain on your neck and shoulders, but will also affect the baby’s position.
– Remember to keep your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip in alignment – this will make swallowing easier.
– Your baby’s head should be tilted back slightly. You do not want his/her chin to their chest.