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.

Photo Credit: 

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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