Your Breast Feeding questions answered

With Midwife, RN Sibongile Mokoena (Maternity Unit Manager, Busamed Harrismith Private Hospital)

Breastfeeding – is one of the greatest gifts you can give your baby, and, in many countries, breastfeeding is the cultural norm.

Q. What are benefits of Breastfeeding?

A. Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the baby and the mother. The milk is specially designed for your baby and contains antibodies and immune factors, which are passed from the mother to the baby to help fight infection, which is basically everything needed for the baby’s health and growth in the first 6 months. Research shows that breastfeeding helps protect your baby from allergies, reduces the rate of serious illness and makes baby less likely to get sick. The closeness between a mother and her breastfed infant helps form an incredible bond while offering the baby a sense of comfort and security. It helps the mother’s womb contract and return to shape more quickly, as the extra fats stored in your body during the pregnancy are converted into energy that helps to produce breast milk. Breastfeeding woman are at low risk of ovarian and breast cancer and osteoporosis later in life. Breast milk is very convenient as it is always available wherever you are, it is also always the correct temperature and always sterile.

Q. How often is one required to breastfeed?

A. Breastfeed often depends on the demand. Once the baby is born the supply of milk is determined by his/her suckling at the breasts, so it is recommended that the baby be put on breast as soon as possible after birth. The first milk your baby suckles after birth is called colostrum, with ranging colours from pale lemon to dark orange. This is the perfect food for your baby and the first feed is very important. A baby will feed frequently, often every 2-3 hours day and night in the early weeks and each feed may take up to half an hour.

Q. Why does it hurt to breastfeed?

A. Breastfeeding should not hurt. Making some adjustments so that you are comfortable and enjoying breastfeeding your baby, will sure assist with preventing soreness. Firstly, calm your baby; support your baby on the side on your lap coming to the breast slightly from below chin and lower lip first; allowing your breast to rest naturally and support it with your fingers underneath with the thumb on top, keeping your fingers well back from the areola; the baby’s chin is held to the breast about 3cm from the nipple (nose to nipple). When you bring your baby to the breasts tilt his/her head back a bit, open the mouth wide with the tongue down and take a big mouthful of breast tissue along the tongue, and after the initial rapid sucks your baby will settle into slow rhythmical suckling and swallowing. The Baby should come off the breast when he/she has had enough.

Q. How to heal sore nipples?

A. Feed on the least sore side first and make sure your bra is not putting pressure on your breast. Avoiding breast pads with plastic backing as they will keep the nipples wet and avoid using soap on the nipples as it can dry the nipples. Also avoid creams that need to be removed before nursing, as the extra rubbing may irritate already sore nipples.

Q. Can I store breast milk?

A. When you will be spending some time away from your baby and or returning to work, you can express milk into plastic or glass containers with well-fitting tops or breastmilk storage bags, then you can store it under room temperature (19-22 degrees) for only about 6-10 hours, refrigerate at (4-10 degrees) for up to 72 hours, refrigerate at (0-4 degrees) for up to 8 days, single door refrigerator with freezer section up to 2 weeks in a freezer, two door refrigerator up to 3-4 months in freezer and deep freezer at a constant 18 degrees for up to 6 months.

Q. How do I warm up the stored breast milk?

A. Heat in a bowl of hot water and place the closed milk container in the bowl or let the container warm up under warm running water. Do not bring the temperature of milk to boiling point or heat in a microwave as beneficial properties can be destroyed. Gently swirl the milk before testing the temperature.

For any other enquiries on Breastfeeding, please do not hesitate to contact me on 058 624 3045, Busamed Harrismith Private Hospital. Your Health and your baby’s health are a priority to us.

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