Breast Milk Benefits
Newborns begin their life with an immature immune system, and the anti-body rich colostrum found in breast milk provides a major boost to their health. Studies show that breast milk reduces the risk of allergies and eczema. It also lessens the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and protects your baby against diseases such as spinal meningitis, type 1 diabetes, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as you pass on some immune factors and white blood cells through breast milk.
Because of how important breast milk is, it could be said to be a baby’s birthright. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a baby should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of his life, before being introduced to other solid foods – while still supplemented with breast milk for at least two years. Breastfeeding is so beneficial that a mother is encouraged to breastfeed their child for as long as possible.
Breastfeeding isn’t just beneficial for a baby, but can boost the mother’s health as well. It has been documented to lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and nursing mothers tend to lose pregnancy weight easily, as breastfeeding triggers the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces postpartum bleeding. It also increases bone mineral density, which lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
As mothers provide the supply of nutrients through breastfeeding, it is necessary for them to stay hydrated and well-fed. While nursing, they should take care to get enough water every day, and consume plenty of food rich in vitamins, calcium and other minerals.
Breast feeding may not always be free of problems. During this period, when the breasts are full of milk, they may become tender to the touch, or may become swollen, hard, tight and painful. This condition is called engorgement; and may result in making it more difficult for the baby to latch on properly. Engorgement can be treated through self-care measures, such as breast-feeding your baby on demand, by putting the baby to the more painful breast first.
If engorgement is left alone, mastitis, or inflammation of the breast, may develop. Signs of mastitis include redness and pain in an isolated area of the breast, generally feeling unwell and flu-like symptoms and fever. Mastitis can occur when the milk duct is plugged, such as due to a tight bra, leading to a decrease in milk production (milk stasis). It can also be caused by an infection or infrequent feeding.
Should you suspect you have engorgement or mastitis, you should speak to your doctor immediately. Your specialist can get to the root of the problem, and prescribe medication or teach you techniques to deal with these conditions. This will allow you to continue providing your child with nutrition in a comfortable manner. At Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care, our Centre of Excellence offers a team of pediatricians and obstetricians who can provide exceptional clinical care to manage the health of both infant and mother. Speak to us today to learn more!
Disclaimer: This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you or your baby face a medical problem, seek help right away. Every baby is different, so if in doubt, contact your physician or other healthcare provider immediately.