Monday, 23 March 2015

How to Support New Mothers to Breastfeed Their Babies

Although almost all new mothers can breastfeed, not all of them do so exclusively for 6 months or even do it at all. Mothers who don’t breastfeed commonly cite reasons like not being comfortable with breastfeeding, being afraid of sagging breasts, and a perception that infant formula food is the same as breast milk. Recently also, some women think people disapprove of breastfeeding in public and it is no longer as popular as it used to be.

Breastfeeding is a very important activity in the life of a newborn baby. It protects the baby from infections and diseases, lowers the mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancers, improves mother and baby bond, and is free, easily accessible and almost available.

This is why new mothers must be supported and given the right information so that they follow the recommendation to; breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and continue to breastfeed along with complementary feeding up to  2 years or more of the baby’s life.

How fathers can support a new mother

As the father you can;

  1. Help with house chores to reduce the amount of stress on the mother so she can produce enough milk to feed the baby. Also make sure you encourage her to get enough rest.
  2. Help take care of the baby by burping the baby after breastfeeding, bathing the baby, and changing diapers.
  3. Offer to take the mother to antenatal visits and talk with her health professional to know the right information regarding breastfeeding. Always ask about any additional support you can provide for the mother.
  4. Take paternity leave where applicable or plan your leave o coincide with her time of delivery.

How family and friends can support a new mother

As family and friends you can help with house chores, shopping for groceries, cooking and taking care of other children she might have.

They can also provide her with both emotional and social support by listening to her and encouraging her.

How Colleagues and Employees can support a new mother

If your colleague is a new mother, you need to understand balancing work and breastfeeding can be hard on her. Kindly encourage her in any way you can.

Managers or employers can be really helpful if they provide new mothers with enough maternity leave. They can also make the workplace more comfortable by allowing breaks and space for the new mother to breastfeed or express and store the milk.

Right Information- Simple truths about breastfeeding

Getting the right information will boost new mothers’ confidence to breastfeed.

  1. It is normal for new mothers to feel uncomfortable as this is a new experience. This can be overcome by ensuring that new mothers have skin-to-skin contact with their babies right after birth to establish bonding. It is also important for new mothers to feed the baby with the first milk known as colostrum within the first hour of birth. This will prepare both mother and baby for breastfeeding. Other lifestyle changes like eating healthily, drinking enough water, resting, avoiding alcohol, and smoking, all enable new mothers to produce enough nutritious milk.
  2. Breastfeeding does not cause the breast to sag. It is ageing and changes in body weight that cause this effect.
  3. Infant formula is not the same as breast milk. Breast milk is natural and contains antibodies, enzymes, hormones that protect the baby from diseases and infections, even in later life. Infant formula does not contain these antibodies.
  4. It has been shown that people do not actually mind women breastfeeding in public and most women do breastfeed.
  5. One can still breastfeed and have sex without any consequences.

Let’s support new mothers to breastfeed their babies to ensure a healthier and better future for children.

Get more tips from the book, Become A Healthier You.

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About contributor

Irene Danquah, ANutr holds a BSc Biochemistry from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana and an MSc Public Health Nutrition from the University of Southampton, UK. Irene is member of the UK Association for Nutrition (AfN) and the Ghana Nutrition Association. She is on the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) as an Associate Nutritionist. Like the World Bank, Irene also believes "Nutrition is an investment issue and improved nutrition is one of the major drivers of economic growth - World Bank, 2006". 

Friday, 13 March 2015

For the pregnant and future Mamas ( bleeding gums in pregnancy)

Many pregnant women complain of bleeding gums at various times the during pregnancy. It is one of the common dental complaints and tends to cause fear and panic in many. In some cases, they get so worried they even report to us dentists with blood stained handkerchiefs to let you know how serious it is so you can "do something ". However, although it  may  be scary, it is generally not so harmful a condition.

Pregnancy induced Gingivitis is usually due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. These changes cause the gums to become more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque as well as minor damages to the gums. As such they tend to bleed easily with minimal force e.g, chewing, brushing. The other thing too is that because the gums become a bit more easily bruised , some pregnant women find it a bit difficult to brush and clean and hence plaque accumulates on the teeth which further causes inflammation of the gums.

Sometimes, the bleeding may also be from a small reddish swelling on the  gum, a Pregnancy tumor, which tend to occur in areas where the gum is inflamed  and bleed easily. 

Not to worry though because, generally, gum bleeding and gum disease can be easily prevented or controlled by doing simple things.  

What to do?  Just simple; Practice good oral hygiene

Brush at least two times daily (morning and last thing before sleep) with a certified toothpaste and a soft/medium bristled toothbrush. Take your time , be gentle and do brush your tongue.

Use a certified mouthwash to help kill some of the bacteria especially in between the teeth where the brush cannot reach

Floss at least once daily to remove food particles and plaque in between the teeth where the brush cannot reach.

Good dietary Habits: Eat healthily, especially fruits and vegetables and reduce the intake of refined sugars and sticky foods eg. kelewele, sticky candies etc

Hydrate your mouth regularly to keep your mouth moist by liberal intake of water and rinsing

As first aid when the gum is inflammed and painful, warm salt solution does magic (half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a drinking glass of warm water).You can hold mouthfuls of this solution for one minute at a time until the glass is finished and repeat it. It helps stop the bleeding, soothes the gum pain and reduce the gum pain and swelling.

And then, very important, see your dentist, even if you have never seen one before. The dentist will usually examine your mouth and if necessary  request some tests to rule out other possible causes. He may then do a professional cleaning of  your teeth regularly to remove hidden plaque and Calculus(tartar) that is firmly attached to the teeth and also treat any other condition that may be present.

For the pregnancy tumors, they are entirely harmless and usually disappear after the baby is born. However, in some cases, it may  make brushing or chewing  uncomfortable, or bleed excessively and so will have to be  removed while you're pregnant. They may also be removed if they persist after delivery.

It is important to know that, If gum inflammation is not controlled, it can negatively affect  your baby's health and in extreme cases, lead to premature birth so please practice good oral hygiene and please, please visit your dentist.

As always, keep smiling, it is good medicine, even in pregnancy !  See you at the Baby Shower :-)

Get more tips from the book, Become A Healthier You.

Photo Credit:

About Contributor
Richard Selormey holds a BSc (Med. Sci.), Dentistry from the University of Ghana, Legon and a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Ghana Dental School. He also has a Certificate in Health Administration and Management, Health Services Administration and Management from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). Richard is currently an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Resident at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Kumasi, Ghana and the Assistant General secretary of Ghana Dental Association 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Good nutrition: before, during and after pregnancy 1

Good nutrition should always be the number one on the priority list of women and most especially when trying to have a baby. During this time, it is vital to adhere to good healthy habits to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs as this will give children a healthy start as well as protect the health and nutritional wellbeing of women.
Whether you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, here are some healthy lifestyle guidelines for you.

Before pregnancy
It is ideal for every woman to be healthy before becoming pregnant. Pre-conception nutrition is a vital part for preparing for pregnancy.

1. Know your Body Mass Index (BMI)before getting pregnant. Studies have shown that increased body weight and fat content is related to delayed conception. If you’re overweight or obese, lose some weight to gain a normal BMI before becoming pregnant to protect your health and your baby’s well-being. Being underweight increases your chances of giving birth to a low birth weight baby or a pre-term baby. Ahealthy weight reduces your risk of complications like pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes – “diabetes that starts or is first diagnosed during pregnancy”. Gestational diabetes, which causes macrosomia (big baby) can lead to injury during birth and increase a mother’s chances of a Caesarean delivery.

2. Quit smoking and drinking before becoming pregnant. Lifestyles such as smoking and drinking can have negative effects on your baby’s health and development, hence should be stopped once a woman decides to have babies. If you smoke during pregnancy you limit supply of oxygen and nutrients to your baby due to exposure to carbon monoxide, increasing  risk of ectopic pregnancy, premature birth and a higher chance of a low birth weight baby. When you drink alcohol whilst pregnant, it travels through your bloodstream, crosses the placenta and reaches your baby. As little as one drink a day can cause you to have a miscarriage, give birth to a stillborn baby or cause your child to develop problems with speech and learning.

3. Take folic acid prior to conception and continue through pregnancy. See your health professional for a folic acid prescription as it is recommended that all women of child bearing age take folic acid each day. It is especially important for women who are trying to get pregnant, as folic acid can help to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord including anencephaly and spinabifida. You can obtain folate (the natural form of folic acid) through green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and cocoyam leaves (kontomire). Other food sources include beans, peas, lentils, citrus fruits like orange and fortified breakfast cereals.It is difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for pregnancy from food alone since folate is labile when cooked or stored for longer periods. Hence, it is important to take a folic acid supplement hence the need to see your health professional.

During pregnancy
A healthy diet is important during pregnancy as women require a good nutritional status, and adequate supply of nutrients for optimal growth and development of the foetus.

4. Avoid high doses of Vitamin A as this can harm your unborn baby by causing birth defects. If you are pregnant or thinking about having a baby avoid eating foods high in vitamin A such as liver or liver products, and do not take any supplements containing vitamin A unless your doctor advices you to do so.

5. Proteins are needed to build and repair various parts of the body especially the brain, muscle and blood.Consume adequate amounts of protein during pregnancy, to lower your baby’s risk of neonatal deaths and birth defects. Proteins will also keep you full for a longer period and lessen your need to eat extra, empty calories. Good sources of protein-rich foods include eggs, beans, tofu, soy products, lean meat and poultry.

6. Iron is an essential part of red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the blood. Incorporate more iron-rich foods in your diet during pregnancy as it ensures you and your baby have enough oxygen supply. The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy and iron is required for blood formation. If you become deficient in iron whilst pregnant, you increase your chances of a pre-term birth or a perinatal infant. Dietary sources of iron include meat, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts.

7. Calcium is required during pregnancy to help your baby develop strong bones and teeth, grow a healthy heart, nerves and muscle, and assist with blood clotting abilities. If you don’t obtain enough calcium from your diet during pregnancy, your baby will draw it from your bones and this may cause health complications for you later on in life. Naturally enriched sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt and salmon.

8. Vitamin D is necessary to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. If you’re lacking vitamin D during pregnancy your baby could develop rickets as a toddler which can lead to fractures and deformity. Oily fish, eggs, fortified milk and cereal products are examples of dietary sources of the vitamin.

9. Stay active by walking for least 30 minutes a day and get enough rest.

After pregnancy
You don’t need to be on a special diet when breastfeeding but it is ideal to ensure that everything you’re eating is healthy and nutritious to help with your milk production.

10. Drink plenty of fluids as it is important for you and your baby to stay hydrated. Always have a glass of water or other liquids close by so you can be drinking frequently, even before you feel thirsty. Dehydration leads to post-partum fatigue, and you don’t need that during this period as breastfeeding itself can be stressful. Be mindful however of the juices and sugary drinks as too much sugar contributes to weight gain. A lot of caffeine during lactation can be dangerous as caffeine in your breast milk might disturb your baby’s sleep.

11. Choose a variety of foods each day as this changes the flavour of your breast milk and exposes your baby to different tastes, which can help him or her to easily accept different solid foods during weaning. Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre which can help to prevent constipation, a common problem in most pregnant and lactating mothers. 

12. Eat small meals and snacks in between as it will give you energy and strength to keep you going through the day even as you breastfeed. Be sure to have bits of fresh fruits, yoghurt, milkshake, fruit smoothie, a vegetable or cheese sandwich in your stroller bag or close to your nursing chair so you can snack as you move around with baby or when breastfeeding. Snacking will help to keep your hunger in check and keep your energy levels high.

Happy International Women's Day! Always remember how exceptional and phenomenal women are.

Get more tips from the book, Become A Healthier You.

Photo credit:

About Contributor
Ama Konadu Appiah holds a BSc Home Science from the University of Ghana, Legon and an MSc Nutritional Sciences from the University of Nottingham, UK. Ama specialises in health promotion activities, nutrition & metabolism and public health nutrition.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Become a healthier you: staying active

Staying active or doing physical activity improves muscular strength and endurance as well as cardio-respiratory endurance and body composition to prevent non- communicable diseases (e.g. heart diseases, some cancers, diabetes), which are among the leading causes of deaths in our world today. A person also becomes agile, flexible, coordinated, balanced and has a good speed time, when he or she stays active.

Staying active or doing physical activity does not only mean exercising in a gym, playing a sport, or jogging as some are likely to assume. The truth is exercising, is only part of being active as being active means doing anything that makes you move your body. This means physical activity include house chores, walking, swimming, dancing, playing any sport, doing aerobics exercises or using cardiovascular equipment and many more.

Below are ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

At Home

1. Do not shun house chores as performing house chores makes you to your body.
2. Organize a family physical activity competition for example skipping rope or dancing competition to motivate everyone to join in doing a physical activity.

Using Transportation

3. When you use private transportation, always try to pack your car a few metres from where you are going and walk the last few metres to your intended location. This will give you 5 – 10 minutes of walking, consequently improving your physical activity level.
4. When you use public transportation, walk to the next bus stop before getting on the bus or get off the bus a stop early.

At work

5. Use the stairs more than you use the lifts. If for instance your office is located on the 7th floor of the building, you can take the lift to the 4th floor and use the stairs for the remaining floors.

6. Walk or stand for 5- 10 minutes after sitting for 1 – 2 hours or when you have to make/receive a call at work.
7. Walk to a colleague’s desk to communicate with him/her instead of using the intercom/email/office communicator.
8. You can ask for a walking meeting with business partners, colleagues, line managers etc., thereby getting the opportunity to walk to improve your physical activity level.

On your own

9. Register to learn/play a sport at a sports club or register with a gym. Perhaps spending money to register with a local gym or sporting centre may motivate you to use it as you would not want to waste money.
10. In a technological world where things are done with just a touch or a press of a button, try to cut down on touching and pressing.

Photo Credit: Kofimusings

About contributor
Irene Danquah, ANutr holds a BSc Biochemistry from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana and an MSc Public Health Nutrition from the University of Southampton, UK. Irene is member of the UK Association for Nutrition (AfN) and the Ghana Nutrition Association. She is on the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) as an Associate Nutritionist. Like the World Bank, Irene also believes "Nutrition is an investment issue and improved nutrition is one of the major drivers of economic growth - World Bank, 2006". 

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