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Breast feeding should be initiated as soon as after birth of the baby. A baby is usually alert immediately after birth which is the ideal time to facilitate breast feeding. The baby will spontaneously seek the breast if it is put on skin to skin contact with its mother’s body. Breast milk is the best milk, suited for a newborn. It contains all the nutrients for the normal growth and development of a baby from birth to first six months of life.
In exclusive breast feeding, the infant is given only breast milk. Even the water is not given – with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.
Babies should be exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, infants should be given complementary foods which are nutritionally adequate and safe to meet their nutritional requirements,while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.
· It is safe, clean and hygienic
· It is cheap and available in correct temperature to the infant
· It completely meets the nutritional requirement of infants upto 6 months
· It provides immunity to the infants
· It protects babies from diarrhoea and respiratory infection
· It is easily digestible
· It promotes bonding between the mother and infant
· It prevents under nutrition as well as over nutrition
· It reduces the risk of overweight and obesity in children
· It increases the Intelligence Quotient of the babies
· It ensures food security for the babies
· Breast feeding delays next pregnancy
· It lowers risk of breast and ovarian cancer
· It decreases mother’s work load
· Breast feeding saves money
· It promotes family planning
It decreases the need for hospitalization
The following two reflexes are helpful for the babies in breast feeding.
· Rooting reflex: To find the nipple and proper attachment to breast.
· Sucking reflex: To draw out milk from mother’s breast.
The breast milk secreted undergoes changes as the days goes on to meet the demands of the baby.
The milk that is secreted when the baby initiates feeding is foremilk whereas the milk that is secreted at the end the feed is hindmilk.
The foremilk satisfies the thirst of the baby whereas the hindmilk which is high in fat provides satiety.
· The mother is relaxed and comfortable.
· The baby’s head and body are in a straight line
· The baby’s face is opposite the nipple and the breast
· The baby’s upper lip or nose is opposite the mother’s nipple
· The baby is held or supported very close to the mothers body
· The baby’s whole body is supported if the mother is in a sitting position
Attachment: It is otherwise known as latching. It means attachment of nipple along with areola in baby’s mouth and not nipple alone.
· The mouth is widely open
· The tongue is forward in the mouth, and may be seenover the bottom gum
· The lower lip is turned outwards
· The chin is touching the breast
More areola is visible above the baby’s mouth than below it
Burping: After feed the baby should put on to the left shoulder of the mother with its head supported and then with the right arm, the mother should gently pat on the baby’s back. It avoids regurgitation.
· Avoid prelacteal feeds
· Avoid bottle feed
· Do not discard colostrum
· Do not give water
The following indicates that baby is getting adequate breast milk.
· Baby is passing urine 6-7 times a day
· Baby is passing well formed stools
· Sleeping comfortably after feed for atleast 2-3 hours
· Gaining weight adequately.
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