independent

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Breast milk ideal nutrition for babies

The best form of nutrition for babies, breast milk is the ideal food with the perfect combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrate and fluids.

BENEFITS FOR BABY

- Reduces the risk of developing infections such as gastroenteritis, chest and ear infections.

- Reduces risk of cot death. Research suggests that sudden infant death syndrome is less common as babies are less prone to infection.

- Developmental factors. One study reported that performance in childhood intelligence tests was better in children who had been breastfed.

- Long term-health advantages. Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, eczema, diabetes, leukaemia and asthma are less common.

BENEFITS FOR MOTHER

- Health advantages. Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to suffer from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and postnatal depression and weight loss occurs more easily after giving birth.

- Convenience. Zero preparation time and always available.

- Financial. Breastfeeding is free!

COMMON PROBLEMS

- Breast discomfort and pain. Breast engorgement can occur from days 2-7 after giving birth when milk 'comes in'. Regular feeding and hand expressing can help provide relief.

- Sore nipples are commonly caused by excess suction when the position for breast feeding is incorrect. Sometimes a thrush infection, where the nipple becomes sore, red and cracked, is the cause and accordingly your GP can prescribe medication.

- A blocked milk duct can cause a painful and swollen area in the breast. Pain increases during feeding as pressure builds up behind the blocked duct. It usually clears in 1-2 days. Frequent feeding and gentle massage whilst feeding may encourage healing. In some cases a blocked duct can progress to mastitis.

- Mastitis is an infection of the breast where an area of hardness, pain, redness and swelling develops. Mothers may also feel unwell and have a temperature. An antibiotic eradicates the infection and paracetamol can be taken to help relieve pain and temperature.

As bacteria ingested from infected milk will be killed by the acid in the baby's stomach mothers should continue breastfeeding. The baby may refuse to feed from the infected side as the taste may change a little. In such an instance the baby can feed from the uninfected side and milk can be hand expressed from the affected breast to keep the supply of milk going.

DIET AND BREASTFEEDING

A normal, healthy diet is advised for breastfeeding mothers. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended for all breastfeeding women, as well as breastfed babies.

INITIATING BREASTFEEDING

A trained professional can best instruct mothers on how to latch their babies on correctly. Mothers who intend on breastfeeding should ideally make an appointment with their GP or practice nurse prior to delivery in order to specifically discuss breast feeding technique.

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