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The Benefits of Breastfeeding Babies do not need anything other than breastmilk for the first six months of their lives. It fulfills nutritional needs, non nutritional advantages that reduce health risks for life and usually involves lots of time for mother and baby to really get to know each other. Enjoy those cuddles . Babies who artificially feed are more at risk of ear infections, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, asthma, eczema, obesity, heart disease, gut disease, diabetes, certain types of childhood cancers, allergy related illness. Infection is more likely because artificial milks do not contain anti infection properties. The other diseases are more likely because the types of protein in artificial milks are a trigger for allergies and other diseases later in life. Breastfed babies are at less risk because breastfeeding actively protects against all these illnesses. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of pre menopausal breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. Tips for Getting Breastfeeding off to a Good Start Lots of skin to skin: Starting at birth and then just keep on doing it! Both you and your baby will love it and there is lots of evidence that skin to skin will help both of you recover from the birth, and baby will learn how to breastfeed more easily. Your midwife will discuss skin to skin with you during the pregnancy and when you are in labour. If your baby goes to Special Care, staff will help you put the baby skin to skin as soon as baby is well enough. You will really enjoy this, and even if your baby is not well enough to breastfeed, having your baby so close will help increase your milk supply. Learn how to hand express: Start trying before your baby arrives. Some babies are quite sleepy for the first day after birth and if you know how to hand express, and have practiced the technique, you will be able to hand express colostrum directly onto baby’s lips on the first day until your baby wakes up and is ready to feed. There is literature available on hand expressing. Your midwife will discuss hand expressing with you during the pregnancy, on labour ward and on the post natal ward. If your baby goes to Special Care, still start hand expressing as soon as you can, do not worry if you do not see any milk at first, just keep trying, it will come. The special care staff, Midwives and Maternity Support Workers will help you with this. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should: Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. Help mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if separated from their babies. Give newborns no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated. Practice rooming in 24 hours a day. Encourage breastfeeding on demand. Give no teats or dummies to breastfeeding infants. Identify sources of national and local support for breastfeeding and ensure mothers know how to access these prior to discharge from hospital. (As stated by the Baby Friendly Initative (BFI)) Breast Feeding Complications Most breastfeeding problems are caused by difficulties with positioning and attachment. Lots of skin to skin, will help you both, to find comfortable positions for breastfeeding, this is called Biological Nurturing. There are also special holds which can be useful when sitting up or out and about with the baby. Make sure that baby’s mouth is open as wide as possible before helping him onto the breast. If baby just jumps onto your nipple it will hurt you, and baby will not be able to empty the breast properly. If breastfeeding is painful beyond the first 30 seconds of the feed or your nipple looks damaged at the end of the feed then you need help with positioning. Breastfeeding should not be painful. Things to Remember In order for you to make enough milk and for your baby to thrive, your baby will need a minimum of eight feeds in 24 hrs by day three. The average number of feeds is 8-12 in 24 hours. Current advice is to demand feed, which means responding to baby’s feeding cues and letting baby feed as often and for as long as it wants. Having said this, some babies are very quiet and do not demand food, so it is a good idea in the first week or so to offer the baby the breast every few hours just until we are sure that everything is going well for you and the baby. Breastfeeding can be hard work in the first few weeks: Most people find night time the hardest thing to deal with. New babies are more alert between 9pm and 3am. Make sure you get rest at other times in the day, so that you can cope with being up at night. Avoid giving baby anything other than your breast. Evidence is that when mother’s introduce artificial milks, their lactation never properly establishes, and baby does not learn to breastfeed properly. It does get easier and once you have established a good milk supply it is so much better than having to make up bottles individually and then worry about storage when you go out. There is evidence to suggest that breastfeeding protects against cot death Current advice is to avoid the use of a dummy until breastfeeding and lactation is well established, allow at least a month. After this time, current thinking is that appropriate dummy use, prior to sleeping may reduce the risk of cot death, even further. Our Commitment As a commitment to improving our breastfeeding services the Trust has recently engaged with the Baby Friendly Initiative in order to work towards the Global Award. The Baby Friendly Initiative was set up in 1991 and is a collaborative effort of the World Health Organization and Unicef, designed to reduce health inequalities associated with artificial milks. Optimal nutrition for life begins with breastfeeding and the Baby Friendly Award is concerned with the promotion, support and protection of breastfeeding. The global award is presented to health facilities that fulfill the criteria for the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The Ten Steps provide the framework within which health facilities must work in order to achieve the award.
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