Women's Health

Breastfeeding provides unparalleled health benefits for the baby and the mother. Breast milk is uniquely designed to meet the health needs of a growing child. It is the ideal food for infants, as it is safe for them. It also boosts the infant’s immune system, which contributes to protecting it from many common childhood diseases. Breast milk also provides all energy and nutrients an infant needs in the first months of life, and continues to provide up to half or more of a child's nutritional needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one-third of the energy needs between 12 and 24 months. So, WHO and UNICEF recommend the following:
  • Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding until 2 years of age or beyond.

When should breastfeeding start:
  • Breastfeeding should begin within the first few hours of birth, by allowing the baby to be placed on the mother's breast (skin-to-skin) and fed.
  • In some cases, the infant must be separated from the mother for several hours or even days after birth, so breast pumping is recommended to stimulate breast milk production.
  • In the first few days after giving birth, a woman produces a small amount of thick, yellowish milk called colostrum, which is rich in nutrients and provides all the calories the baby needs for the first few days.
  • Many women worry that their babies are not getting enough milk immediately after birth, especially when only small amounts of colostrum are being produced, but there is no need to worry as babies are born with excess fluid and sugar stores that their bodies use until mother's milk production is increased.
  • It is recommended to continue breastfeeding frequently; To produce more milk within three to five days.
  • Babies usually lose weight within the first few days of life and gradually regain this weight two weeks after birth.

Feeding time:
An attempt to breastfeed the infant as soon as it begins to show signs of hunger includes:
  • Baby waking up from sleep
  • Moving the head and mouth to search for the mother's breast.
  • Sucking on hands, lips or tongue.
  • Intense crying indicates severe hunger, and it is not recommended to delay breastfeeding until the infant cries.
Number of feedings and their duration:
  • For the first 1-2 weeks, most babies feed 8 to 12 times a day in 24 hours, or at least every 2-3 hours since the start of the previous feeding.
  • Some babies want to feed more frequently, every 30 to 60 minutes, while others need to be woken up and encouraged to feed.
  • During the first week of life, a sleeping infant should be awakened to feed if four hours have passed since the start of the previous meal.
  • The length of time an infant needs to finish breastfeeding varies, especially in the first few weeks after birth, as some infants need 5 minutes while others need 20 minutes or more.
  • Allowing the infant to breastfeed for as long as desired is recommended.
  • It is recommended to breastfeed the baby from one breast per session until satiety, because the flowing milk at the end of the feeding session contains a higher percentage of fat than the available milk at the beginning of feeding, which helps the baby to feel full and sleep.

Benefits of breastfeeding for infants:
  • Breast milk contains the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein and minerals needed for a baby's growth and development.
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula milk, and breastfed babies experience less gas, sucking problems, and constipation.
  • Breast milk contains antibodies that protect babies from certain diseases (such as: ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory diseases, and allergies).
  • It reduces the risk of asthma.
  • It reduces the risk of obesity.
  • It reduces the risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • It reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
  • It reduces the risk of enterocolitis for preterm infants.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother:
  • Breastfeeding makes it easier to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
  • It reduces the risk of high blood pressure.
  • It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • It reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
  • Breastfeeding helps release oxytocin, which helps contract the uterus and reduce the amount of blood after childbirth.

How to breastfeed a baby:
Breastfeeding needs practicing. It takes time to determine the best position for feeding and burping, offering both breasts and switching breasts after each feeding. When latching:
  • Bring the infant's body closer so that the level of his nose is close to the nipple of the breast.
  • Let the infant's head tilt back slightly so that his upper lip can catch the nipple. This should help him open his mouth wide.
  • When he opens his mouth, his chin should be able to touch the breast first, and his head is tilted back so his tongue can reach as much of the breast as possible.
  • With his chin firmly touching your breast and his nose clear, his mouth should be open,
  • The mother should notice the areola of the breast above the upper lip of the child more than below the lower lip.

Signs of satiety in infants:
These signs vary from child to child, and include:
  • He may relax his fingers and toes.
  • Milk poured from his mouth.
  • Stops sucking.
  • Turning the head away.

Signs that the baby is getting enough milk:
  • The infant's cheek is round, not hollow during sucking, and swallowing can be heard and seen.
  • The infant is calm and relaxed during feeding, and leaves the breast alone when satisfied.
  • After feeding, the breasts are softer and the nipples are similar (not flattened, pinched or white).
  • The mother may feel sleepy and relaxed after feeding.
  • In the first 48 hours, a baby is likely to wet two or three diapers only. Wet diapers should also become more frequent at least 6 diapers every 24 hours from day 4 or 5 onwards.
  • Beginning to gain weight steadily after the first two weeks (it is normal for babies to lose part of their birth weight in the first two weeks).
  • At first, the infant's stool is black in color, similar to tar, but after about 5 or 6 days, the infant must defecate at least twice, and the stool is soft yellow, and the stool of breastfed infants is characterized by liquid stool that has no smell.

Baby burp
Burping your baby/infant is an important part of feeding them, when they swallow, air bubbles can get stuck in their tummy and cause a lot of discomfort, some babies find it easy to burp while others need help.

When should the baby burp:
There are no rules about when to burp. Some babies need to burp during a feeding, others afterward. If a baby seems uncomfortable during a feeding, take a short burp break. If it starts fine during a feeding, it's best to wait until it's finished.

Best burp position:
Holding and supporting the child's head and neck, making sure that his stomach and back are straight (not twisted), then rubbing his back or patting him gently. The mother does not need to spend a long time burping the child, as a few minutes are enough.

Ways to burp a baby:
  • On the shoulder: by placing the child's chin on your shoulder, supporting the head and shoulder area with one hand, then rubbing gently on his back and patting him.
  • Sitting on the mother’s lap: placing the palm of the hand flat on his chest and supporting his chin and jaw while avoiding pressure on the throat area, then tilting the child forward slightly, and using the hand rub gently on the back of the child.
  • Lying on the stomach: the child lies on the mother’s leg face down, supporting his chin and avoiding pressure on the throat area, and using the hand to gently rub the back of the child.
If the child does not burp:
If these methods do not work and the child shows signs of gas retention (such as crying, arching the back, pulling the legs to the stomach, fist bumping), then he should try lying on his back and massaging his stomach gently, then moving his legs back and forth (bicycle movement).

When to see a doctor:
If the infant vomits up a lot of milk after feeding, seems unsteady and cries a lot during or after feeding.

Last Update : 30 July 2023 10:45 AM
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