Breastfeeding is one of the cardinal principles of newborn care and breast milk is the optimum nutrition for both healthy and sick newborn babies. 8 steps to achieve successful breastfeeding
- All pregnant women should know about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Mother should initiate breastfeeding within 1 hour of the birth of a baby.
- Mothers should ask healthcare staff how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated
- Allow mothers and infants to remain together for entire 24 hours in a day
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants
- Mother can ask for any breastfeeding support groups available while getting discharged from the hospital/clinic.
For mothers to produce enough milk the baby must suckle often enough, and must also suckle in the correct manner. Correct positioning ensures effective suckling and prevents breast engorgement as well as sore nipples.
Proper positioning involves:
- Baby’s body is well supported
- The hand, neck and body of the baby are in the same plane
- Entire body of the baby faces the mother
- Baby’s abdomen touched mother’s abdomen Figure
Proper attachment involves:
- Baby’s mouth is wide open
- Lower lip is turned outwards
- Baby’s chin touches mother’s breast
- Majority of the areola is comfortably inside the baby’s mouth, promoting effective breastfeeding
General principles of exclusive breastfeeding
- Mother request early and exclusive breastfeeding whenever possible
- Mother and her family should know the benefits of early and exclusive breastfeeding:
- Breast milk contains the exact nutrients the baby needs and promotes the baby’s development
- Breast milk is easily digested and efficiently used by the baby’s body
- Breast milk protects baby from infection
- Breastfeeding can be used as a contraceptive method (lactational amenorrhea method)
- Mother should breastfeed the baby on demand, both day and night (eight or more times in 24 hours), for as long as the baby wants.
- Mother should offer the second breast once the baby releases the first breast on her/his own.
- Mother should avoid or be cautious about:
- Force the baby to feed
- Interrupt a feed before the baby is done
- Use artificial teats or pacifier
- Give the baby any other food or drink (e.g. commercial breast milk substitute, animal milks, local porridges, tea, water etc) other than breast milk for the first six months of life.
- Include the family member or other support person in discussion about breastfeeding if possible
- Ensure that the mother eats nutritious food
- Ensure that the mother can wash or shower daily but should avoid washing or wiping her nipples before breastfeeding.
- If mother is too ill or baby is too sick to breastfeed
- Mother should apply warm compression before expression and cold compression afterward to reduce swelling
- Give the baby a breast milk substitute only if expression is not possible or is contraindicated because of maternal illness or drugs.
By following these guidelines, mothers can create a nurturing breastfeeding experience that promotes their well-being and supports the healthy development of their babies.