BREAST­FEED­ING 101

It’s the most nat­u­ral thing in the world, but that doesn’t mean breast­feed­ing comes nat­u­rally. Get­ting it right takes a bit of prac­tice…

Your Baby & Toddler - - BREASTFEEDING - BY LINDA BRITZ, LACTATION SPE­CIAL­IST, NURS­ING SIS­TER AND MID­WIFE

Breast­feed­ing is known as the gold stan­dard to feed a baby, but it is about so much more than nutri­tion. It rep­re­sents the com­mon lan­guage of moth­er­ing; it is about in­ti­macy and a re­la­tion­ship with your baby.

Breast­milk is per­fectly de­signed, with all the nu­tri­ents your baby re­quires for growth and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment (es­pe­cially his brain), and nour­ishes both body and soul.

The best thing about breast­feed­ing is that your body nat­u­rally pro­duces milk from be­fore birth and the process is con­tin­ued as your baby is born to breast­feed. You just need to be avail­able to your baby. Most ba­bies know ex­actly what they need to do, so be guided by your baby and have con­fi­dence in your body’s abil­ity to nour­ish your baby.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also get clued up on how to go about the dance of breast­feed­ing. Em­power your­self with good knowl­edge that in­stils you with con­fi­dence, and sur­round your­self with peo­ple who will sup­port you, from your part­ner and fam­ily mem­bers to health­care pro­fes­sion­als. Ask for help, if and when you need it. Have a breast­feed­ing plan, and make a com­mit­ment to face the chal­lenges you may face along the way.

THE GOLDEN HOUR

The first hour after the birth of your baby is a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity – a sa­cred mo­ment when a fam­ily is formed and your baby’s first im­pres­sion of life out­side the womb is made.

The best way to start is heart to heart! As soon as your baby is born, place your baby on your chest, in skin-to-skin con­tact. Your body will nat­u­rally in­crease in tem­per­a­ture to warm your baby – even bet­ter than an in­cu­ba­tor. Your baby should only be sep­a­rated from you if there is a good med­i­cal rea­son. Rou­tine pro­ce­dures and ob­ser­va­tions can be done ei­ther while your baby is on your chest, or at a later time. This mo­ment should be un­in­ter­rupted.

Skin-to-skin con­tact not only pro­motes bond­ing, but is also a multi-sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence for your baby. Be­sides the pow­er­ful sense of touch and hu­man con­tact, which con­firms your baby’s out of womb habi­tat on your breast area, the sense of smell is well de­vel­oped and very strong. Each mother and baby has a unique scent, and once your baby recog­nises yours, it pro­vides se­cu­rity and com­fort.

Your baby’s sense of sight is also very im­por­tant, al­though un­der­de­vel­oped. You will have a nat­u­ral de­sire to look at your baby. As he makes eye con­tact with you, and stares back, the love hor­mone oxy­tocin floods your brain, start­ing the dance of breast­feed­ing. Your baby’s suck re­flex is at its most in­tense dur­ing the first hour after birth. Al­low your baby his own time and be guided by him.

Re­search has now iden­ti­fied nine ob­serv­able new­born stages that are in­stinc­tive for a baby who is placed in skin-to-skin con­tact with his mother, after birth:

STAGE 3

Awak­en­ing Around three min­utes after birth, small wave-like move­ments in the baby’s head and shoul­ders are no­ticed. Baby’s eyes are usu­ally open.

STAGE 4

Ac­tiv­ity The new­born baby starts to make suck­ing move­ments as the root­ing be­comes more ob­vi­ous. Baby looks at the breast and at mom. He will also make “coo­ing” sounds to cap­ture the mother’s full at­ten­tion.

STAGE 5

Rest He may rest at in­ter­vals and con­tinue to make suck­ing move­ments in his own time.

STAGE 6

Crawl­ing About 35 min­utes after birth, the baby starts to leap, crawl, slide and push him­self to­wards the breast to reach the nip­ple.

Get on the dance floor straight away

En­cour­age your baby to breast­feed within an hour of the birth.

Stay on the dance floor Have lots of skinto-skin con­tact with your baby.

Learn the dance steps Mas­ter the latch to avoid nip­ple pain and en­sure good feed­ing.

Fol­low the lead De­mand feed your baby by nurs­ing him when he shows hunger cues.

En­joy the dance! En­cour­age your baby to feed of­ten and trea­sure those spe­cial mo­ments of close­ness with him.

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