Like many new mothers, Jhanavi Singh, had many concerns about breastfeeding her newborn son. In a consultation with our a Certified Lactation Counsellor, she asked some questions that were on her mind.
1. How often should I breastfeed my baby?
“The usual feeding pattern in babies takes place in phases” says Suhani Grover, a Certified Lactation Counsellor and Child Health Educator at Sitaram Bhartia.
“There are phases when the baby will sleep for upto three to four hours at a stretch and then there are phases where the baby will demand food very frequently.”
“You needn’t wake up the baby after every hour of sleep to feed him. Sleep is also important for proper growth of the baby”
“If the baby is sleeping for more than 3 hours then maybe you can consider waking him up for a feed.”
2. Can spicy food affect my breast milk and therefore my baby’s digestion?
“After a few days of eating bland food, I needed to eat something spicy and so I did” says Jhanavi.
“That day, my son was really cranky and I kept wondering if it was something I ate that made him feel that way.”
Your baby’s digestion is usually not affected by the type of food you eat. This misconception often leads to mothers not eating well during their lactation period.
“Mothers should ensure they consume extra calories and protein to accommodate for lactation” states Suhani. “There are no food restrictions simply because she is breastfeeding her baby.”
The emphasis should be on hygienically-prepared and nutrient rich food for the mother.
3. Is it safe for newborns to drink water?
“I gave my baby a few spoonfuls of water between breastfeeding because I was worried that he might be thirsty. Then he developed loose stools for a few days” Jhanavi recalls, clearly worried.
“I didn’t know that giving water to a newborn would cause diarrhea.”
“Giving water to babies before six months does not serve any purpose and leads to poor growth and increased risk of infection” clarifies Suhani.
“Your baby should be exclusively breastfed as per his demand because breast milk feeding is sufficient in all respects for your baby including their thirst and hunger in all seasons and weather.”
4. If I am sick, should I avoid breastfeeding my baby?
“If it’s a standard illness like fever or a cold, it’s mostly fine to breastfeed your baby. In fact, don’t hesitate to do so! You are actually passing on illness-fighting antibodies which will help protect your child” reassures Suhani.
“If you are on medication though, it may get transferred into your breast milk”
“But commonly-prescribed medications do this at a level which doesn’t pose any real threat to the infant. It is advisable to let your pediatrician know about the medication so that they may suggest any modifications in breastfeeding, if required”
5. What are the advantages of breastfeeding?
“There are multiple advantages of breastfeeding for both mother and baby” says Suhani.
Advantages of Breastfeeding for the Baby
- It promotes growth and brain development of the baby
- It builds their immunity and prevents infections like cough and cold
- It helps prevent asthma, allergic disorders and hypertension in the baby in later life
Besides these advantages, breastfeeding adds to the emotional security and EQ (emotional quotient) of the infant.
Suckling on the mother’s milk (that is biologically designed for each baby), positively stimulates all of the baby’s senses including smell, sound, touch, sight and taste. This positive experience generates a sense of attachment and trust which is reiterated in every successive breastfeed.
Advantages of Breastfeeding for the Mother
For new moms, breastfeeding helps
- reduces the risk of ovarian or breast cancer,
- lose weight
- act as a natural contraceptive during lactation periods
Jhanavi felt much better after the consultation. She left feeling reassured that there was nothing to worry about and continued to breastfeed her son.