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Food for healthy babies

Chandra Fisi'iahi
Sunday, August 13, 2017

Breastfeeding is a major contributor to the wellness and health of infants and mothers, it is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe, produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste.

Breastfeeding is the best possible start for your baby, it will also protect your baby from illness, yet every mother's breastfeeding experience is different and it can be challenging.

Last week marked the end of World Breastfeeding Week. It is celebrated every year from August 1-7 all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health and wellness of babies around the world.

This year the theme was "Sustaining Breastfeeding Together", more than 179 countries including Fiji celebrated working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts.

Last year, World Breastfeeding Week linked the benefits of breastfeeding to the Sustainable Development Goals. On September 25, 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

This year moving foward, World Breastfeeding Week focuses on the SDGs, having four major focus areas — nutrition, food security and poverty reduction, survival, health and wellbeing, environment and climate change, and women's productivity and employment.

Karen Krishnan's (fitness instructor) experience of breastfeeding

I have two daughters aged seven and nine. I breastfed both of them for just over a year each. I breastfed them because breast milk has antibodies which protected them from early childhood illness.

It was the most hygienic way to feed them unlike bottle feeding which can lead to the baby having diarrhoea if the bottle is not sterilised well. Breastfeeding was also great for developing a bond between my babies and I. We are still close and they love hugs and snuggles.

The skin to skin closeness gave them a sense of security and wellbeing. Breastfeeding also helped me lose some of the weight I had gained during pregnancy because the body uses calories to produce milk.

The only disadvantage is that it hurts the first time. This is not something women are told after they have their first baby. It gets better the second time may be because of experience.

I had mastitis and eventually developed a breast abscess (swelling, redness and a lot of pain because of the build-up of milk in the breast) when breastfeeding my first child. I was a new mum and my daughter had trouble latching on.

My nipples were raw and I was in a lot of pain. I believe in breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months but the excruciating pain and feeling, the shame of not being able to successfully feed my baby led to postpartum depression.

After the first three months, I breastfed and bottlefed my first daughter. It was much easier the second time.

What we need is more awareness on post-natal care. Breastfeeding may come more naturally to some women than others and we need our postnatal health care staff to be more supportive.

If a woman needs help, she should not have any shame in asking for it during her medical check-up. We talk about breastfeeding and its many benefits to the baby and that it is a good thing but we need to be more mindful of the new mums too.

There are a lot of women who go through mastitis when breastfeeding their first baby but it's not something that we talk about openly. I believe that more support for new mums will lead to more babies being successfully breastfed exclusively for the first six months.

Benefits of breastfeeding according to healthywomen

? It helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces post-delivery bleeding.

? It makes it easier to lose those pregnancy pounds (you burn up to 500 extra calories a day nursing).

? It may reduce your risk of postpartum depression and breast and ovarian cancer.

? It can delay the return of your period (although you should still use some form of birth control when you resume intercourse).

? It saves money (no formula!).

Breastfeeding tips for new moms according to healthywomen.com

? Try to breastfeed within the first hour of birth. This helps your uterus contract and provides that valuable colostrum. Also ask to have Baby room in with you at the hospital so you can feed on demand.

? Have a nurse or lactation consultant check how Baby latches on while you're still in the hospital. While it might be uncomfortable when Baby latches on, it shouldn't be painful. If it hurts badly enough to make you grimace every time, then you may not have the right position.

? Prepare for your milk to come in. This occurs on about the third or fourth day after birth. You'll know it's happened because your breasts suddenly increase several cup sizes! Speaking of which, make sure you have several well-fitting nursing bras, and don't forget to pack one in your hospital bag.

? Plan to breastfeed about eight to 12 times in every 24-hour period. Your baby is good at giving hunger signals: rooting around searching for your nipple; putting his hand in his mouth; and looking increasingly alert. Always feed on demand.

? Try not to introduce a bottle or other nipples, including pacifiers, until breastfeeding is well established. The thrusting motion required to nurse is different from that required to suck a nipple, and Baby could get confused.

? Stay hydrated to ensure your body can make enough milk. A good idea is to sip from a glass of water when nursing.

? Nurse in a calm environment to help your milk let down. After a while, all it will take for your milk to let down is unhooking your bra for your baby, or even just hearing any infant cry.

Common breastfeeding challenges and how to overcome them according to healthywomen

? Sore and cracked nipples — Check the position of the baby when she latches on; smooth lanolin over your nipples after each nursing session; and let your nipples air dry after each nursing session.

? Engorgement (overly full breasts) or blocked milk duct — Warm compresses, letting warm water run over your breasts in the shower, or laying cabbage leaves on your breasts can help relieve some of the pressure. You can also try pumping some milk between feedings.

? Mastitis or breast infection — To prevent mastitis; make sure you empty your breasts regularly.








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