Dr Sanjay Prabhu*
Consultant Pediatrician, Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Borivali, Mumbai, India*
THE FIRST CONTACT AND FEED:
- Hold your baby in close skin - to - skin contact within half of delivery. Start breastfeeding as soon as the baby shows readiness to suckle. Babies are very alert in the first hour after delivery and tend to suckle easily and vigorously. It has been proved that if the baby is breastfed earlier, then it is easier for the mother to establish regular breastfeeding. This ensures that breastfeeding can continue for a sufficiently long period of time.
- Do not give glucose/ jaggery/ sugar/ plain water or honey before the first breastfeed. This may cause infection in the baby's digestive system. This may also prevent successful establishment of breastfeeding because a baby with a full stomach may not suckle at the breast.
BREASTMILK IN THE FIRST 3 DAYS (COLOSTRUM):
The thick, yellowish fluid from the breast in the first few days after delivery is called Colostrum. Though small in quantity, Colostrum is highly protective against infections and is nutritious and sufficient for the baby. Hence do not give any other feeds during this period to the baby.
DURATION AND FREQUENCY OF FEEDING:
Breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry without any restriction of time. Feed your baby even during the night. You can breastfeed the baby lying down. Feed at one breast at a time till it is empty because the initial milk (foremilk) is watery (contains sugar and proteins) and quenches the baby's thirst while the milk that is secreted later (hindmilk) is rich in fats and satisfies baby's hunger. After the first breast is empty, shift to the second breast. You can alternately start the feeds at either of the breast.
BEFORE DISCHARGE FROM THE MATERNITY HOME:
Before discharge from the maternity home, learn to hold and position the baby properly and comfortably while breastfeeding. You should be able to give nipple and maximum possible areola (dark portion behind the nipple) in baby's mouth for optimal breastfeeding. Also learn to express breastmilk and storage.
Give only breast milk till the baby is 6 months old. Water, top milk, honey, vitamins, almonds, fruit juices or any other item should not be given during this period. These will interfere with breastfeeding and may introduce infection. Mother's milk contains enough water. Hence even in summer, an infant does not require water.
- Gripe water, Balkadu, tonics for teething or any other similar preparations are unnecessary and can be dangerous. Hence these items should not be given.
Around the end of 6 months gradually introduce the child to family meals. However continue to breastfeed until the second birthday.