World breastfeeding week: Everything a new mum MUST know about breastfeeding

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Col Suma KS, Chief of Nursing Services at Columbia Asia hospital, Bangalore guides the nursing mothers through the dos and don’t's of breastfeeding.

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Breastmilk is the best form of nutrition for any infant. Though we know this from time immemorial, many women due to various reasons prefer formulae milk for their babies, more so after the baby is three to six months of age. What stops a mom to breastfeed her baby?

According to Lt Col Suma KS, Chief of Nursing Services, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital-Yeshwanthpur, who also specializes in lactation, “The benefits of breastmilk are enormous for both, baby and mother. Women should not wean off while they are under medication unless the medications are being contraindicated by the treating doctor. Before taking medications, it is advisable for breastfeeding mother to consult the doctor if the drug can be safely used during breastfeeding.

“In most cases, drugs are excreted into breast milk but the benefits of breast milk outweigh its risk. The doctor might ask mothers not to breast feed the baby, if the mother is on antiviral medications, cancer chemotherapy drugs, antithyroid drugs or psychotropic drugs,” she added.

As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week starting from August 1, Col Suma guides the nursing moms through the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding:

Eat these

Breast milk contains water (88%); proteins (1.1 gm); carbohydrates (7.4 gm); fat (3.4 gm) calcium (28mg); interferon (with antiviral properties); stem cells and vitamins like A, B1, C, D, E. Apart from this, it also contains IgA (immunoglobulin) which provides immunity to new born.

  • Eating healthy food makes breast milk healthy, therefore a nursing mother should consume a diet rich in Omega 6 fatty acids such as vegetable oils and omega 3 fatty acids such as fish, walnuts, soya beans as it improves brain development of the infant.
  • A healthy diet provides breast milk with all essential vitamins and minerals that are required for the proper growth and development. In some cultures, there is a lot of precaution and fuss over lactating mother’s diet. These age-old system is being followed to meet nutritional requirements of the mother as well as the baby.

Limit these

  • Tea/coffee: Intake of tea or coffee when consumed in moderation does not affect breast milk production. If the mother suffers from Reynaud’s disease, then it may interfere with milk, let down reflex and cause nipple spasm.

Refrain from these

  • Junk food: Foods do not have any impact on the breast milk and all foods can be eaten safely. However, intake of some foods can change the flavour of breast milk. Nursing mothers should avoid junk foods as well as foods with additives as they do not meet the nutritional requirements. Junk food is an unhealthy diet and it leads to the unhealthy gut as it lacks healthy beneficial bacteria.
    This ultimately affects the immune system. Hence, it is important to pass nutritious and healthy gut to baby through breast milk by gorging healthy food.
  • Fatty food: Intake of fatty food may not increase the risk of heart disease for your baby but, it might affect mother’s health. It can lead to obesity and unhealthy fat deposits.  
  • Alcohol: Regular intake of alcohol decreases the production of breast milk to 20% and interferes with the motor development of the infant. Hence, a feeding mother should debar from alcohol consumption.
    In case, the mother occasionally consumes alcohol, there should be a time lag of 2 to 3 hours per unit after drinking. This time period is essential for alcohol to be completely eliminated from breast milk. However, binge drinking is not advisable.
  • Smoking: Studies reveal that smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day decreases milk production and alters milk composition. If one cannot quit smoking, it is advisable to smoke immediately after a breast feed, so that the nicotine level gets reduced in the next feeding session. Generally, it takes 10 hours for the nicotine level to be eliminated from breast milk.

Read: 7 myths about breastfeeding that are just plain WRONG! 


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