HAV­ING THE TALK: THE ROLE OF FAM­ILY IN BREAST­FEED­ING

Why is it that some women choose to breast­feed, while other opt for for­mula? A fam­ily’s role in the care and nur­ture of a baby can play a big part in that de­ci­sion. Dr Preeti Gan­gan ex­plains the im­por­tance of a fam­ily’s sup­port and en­cour­age­ment when it c

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

Im­por­tance of the sup­port from your loved ones

Mother­hood is a bumpy ride, no mat­ter what way you look at it. Post-par­tum psy­chosis and de­pres­sion ex­erts a lot of pres­sure on moth­ers and this in­creases the stress level im­pact­ing health. Many moth­ers get agi­tated and are un­able to han­dle this change, blam­ing it on this post­par­tum de­pres­sion. Ex­haus­tion, lack of ma­ter­nity leave and af­ford­able or ac­ces­si­ble ma­ter­nal care, and pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the de­mands of the child cover women in a heavy blan­ket of re­spon­si­bil­ity that is of­ten dif­fi­cult to es­cape.

They jug­gle be­tween house­hold chores, of­fi­cial work, pre­par­ing meals, baby sit­ting and other un­pre­dictabil­i­ties, di­min­ish­ing their will to breast­feed, forc­ing them to adopt for­mula. How­ever, the lack of knowl­edge on the ben­e­fits of breast­feed­ing, fam­ily sup­port and poor skills of time man­age­ment, con­trib­ute to their choice to feed their child for­mula over breastmilk. Even if the hos­pi­tal rec­om­mends for­mula, a fam­ily’s sup­port can help a new mother take the breast­feed­ing de­ci­sion. A mother should be en­cour­aged to dis­cuss with who­ever they’re com­fort­able with, their de­sires and plans to breast­feed. Her part­ner and the baby’s grand­par­ents also play crit­i­cal sup­port roles when it comes to breast­feed­ing, both with re­gard to as­sist­ing in de­ci­sion mak­ing about how the baby is fed, as well as in cre­at­ing a sup­port­ive and en­cour­ag­ing en­vi­ron­ment for a mother to breast­feed, after the baby is born. Mak­ing mother­hood an art Families can help a new mother master the art of mother­hood and also in­spire her to con­tinue with her ca­reer. Here are cer­tain tips for families to help moth­ers get through those early weeks with a new baby.

AVOID­ING COM­PAR­ISONS: A lot of new moth­ers draw com­par­isons with other new mums and their life­styles. This at­ti­tude de­creases their con­fi­dence and cre­ates doubts on their own abil­ity to ef­fec­tively breast­feed. Each nurs­ing re­la­tion­ship is unique and is sub­ject to con­di­tions which ev­ery mother will ex­clu­sively face, and hence the re­sult­ing out­come will also ei­ther be pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive. What a fam­ily must re­mem­ber is to help a nurs­ing mum re­lax, breathe and breast­feed!

BUILD­ING TRUST IN YOUR­SELF: The jour­ney to mother­hood is quite a chal­lenge and not ev­ery­body passes with fly­ing colours. At times, when moth­ers try to nurse, they’re faced with is­sues like poor milk sup­ply and latch­ing prob­lems, dis­cour­ag­ing them in their en­deav­ours to breast­feed. This is ex­actly when her fam­ily needs to step in and en­cour­age her to keep try­ing. Help her un­der­stand that ev­ery new mum will take their own time, and find their own way around the prob­lem. Per­haps, shar­ing their own ex­pe­ri­ences and strug­gles of mother­hood can help a new mum cope, and un­der­stand that it takes six to eight weeks to ad­just to breast­feed­ing. LINE UP BREAST­FEED­ING SUP­PORT: There should be some­one who is al­ways close to the mother, be it her part­ner, her mother-in-law, her mother or a close friend. While there are a few first-time moth­ers that get the hang of breast­feed­ing al­most im­me­di­ately, most first-time moms will face a few dif­fi­cul­ties when first try­ing to nurse. She’s go­ing to need some­one to en­cour­age and sup­port her through this rough phase, and also have the pres­ence of mind to line up breast­feed­ing sup­port ahead of time. Sched­ul­ing a visit with a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant to speak about breast­feed­ing chal­lenges and seek ad­vices on breast­feed­ing works best. In­stalling breast­feed­ing ap­pli­ca­tions and mak­ing her join breast­feed­ing sup­port groups on so­cial me­dia can also help.

KEEP HER WELL HY­DRATED: Feed­ing a new­born is dif­fi­cult as a mother has to al­ways be pre­pared to meet the baby’s de­mands. This con­stant feed­ing pat­tern of­ten leaves her ex­hausted. This means, while she cares for the baby, she re­quires some­one to con­stantly care for her, and en­sure her nu­tri­tional needs are met. And while main­tain­ing a healthy diet is a must, some­one must en­sure that she drinks a lot of wa­ter in be­tween her breaks of breast­feed­ing.

HOLD THE BABY: For ev­ery first-time mum, hold­ing her bun­dle of joy im­me­di­ately after giv­ing birth,

is a long-stad­ing tra­di­tion. It’s eas­ier since she’s al­ready in bed, and all she has to do is hold the baby to her breast. How­ever, back home when ev­ery­one is ea­ger to hold the baby, it be­comes im­per­a­tive that a new mother should spend the baby’s wak­ing mo­ments hold­ing her baby. The fact re­mains, skin to skin con­tact is im­por­tant for both the mother and baby as this helps cre­ate a last­ing bond.

PUMP­ING IS A SO­LU­TION: Once a mother has to re­sume her pro­fes­sional life, whether after three months or the stan­dard six months, she may or may not be in­clined to wean­ing her baby just yet. This is where the fam­ily can sup­port her de­ci­sion, no mat­ter what it is. More­over, if a mother would like to con­tinue breast­feed­ing, pump­ing is def­i­nitely a so­lu­tion. Moth­ers can pump and store milk in a re­frig­er­a­tor. Later her part­ner, rel­a­tives or even the nanny, can re­heat the milk to feed the baby. Hav­ing a healthy sup­port sys­tem will en­able and en­cour­age moth­ers to give their chil­dren the best pos­si­ble nour­ish­ment and care, even when they’re not around.

HELP IN OTHER WAYS: The first six months of a baby’s life are the most cru­cial. It’s the best time for a mother to bond with her child. This means, she must spend as much time as pos­si­ble for ex­clu­sive bond­ing. This also means spend­ing less time on house­hold chores, and more with nur­tur­ing her lit­tle one. This is when the fam­ily needs to step in and take care of the chores that she’d other­wise take care of. While ev­ery mother-child re­la­tion­ship is unique, the one thing that helps strengthen this re­la­tion­ship is the un­re­lent­ing love and sup­port of her fam­ily and friends. It is very im­por­tant that the mother is able to re­lax, rest and spend as much undis­tracted time as pos­si­ble, feed­ing her baby. It’s her fam­ily’s love and warmth that helps her achieve this goal.

Dr Preeti Gan­gan is a mem­ber of Medela LC Club. She is an M.B.B.S, D.C.H, IBCLCcer­ti­fied, pae­di­a­tri­cian and lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant at Cheers Child Care.

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