Letters — 06 August 2013 — by Elsie Velasquez

Dear Editor,

Kindly allow me some space in your newspaper to talk about breastfeeding, since World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated this year from the 5th of August through the 7th August. This issue is important for all pregnant women, especially for young teenage moms, to choose correctly the right step in providing their infant with the best feeding options that are necessary for optimal growth and development for their babies.

Breastfeeding a baby? It may look simple and easy to do if you know how to do it and what to expect, but it takes a lot of knowledge, encouragement and support to nurse a baby.

Why breastfeeding is important? It contains all the nutrients and keeps changing to meet an infant needs. It is the most natural and healthy nourishment as well as the best possible infant food a baby can receive. It benefits the mother, the child and the family on a whole.

Studies have shown that breastfed babies cry less, are healthier, which results in less medical visits and hospitalizations. The intelligence test scores are higher in a breastfed baby than those who receive artificial formulas. Breastfeeding provides an opportunity for developing a loving relationship between the mother and baby through that contact that occurs at each breastfeeding.

While breastfeeding, the mother also reduces her risk for developing cancers such as breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. It also helps to control bleeding immediately after the baby is born. Once the mother is exclusively breastfeeding it also provides a form of contraceptive protection.

How does it benefit the family? Breastfeeding does not have a cost. It is at the right temperature; there is no need to buy bottles, infant formulas nor heating water for keeping these bottles clean. It also reduces cost of medical care on doctor’s consultation fees, medication and time spent at each visit.

In many countries the frequency and duration of breastfeeding has begun to decrease rapidly and as a result malnutrition, infections and infant deaths have been on the rise. Why? This is so because most women are choosing not to breastfeed!

There is no such thing as breast milk is not enough or that the baby does not get enough milk to feel satisfied. The more you breastfeed the more milk your body produces to meet the needs of your baby. The baby should be breastfed often for as long as he/she wants. The mother must learn to recognize symptoms of hunger such as rolling of the eyes, sucking of their tongue or hands in mouths; do not wait until that baby cries to feed him/her. Just put yourself in that baby’s shoe; how would you feel if you are fed when you are ANGRY and HUNGRY?

Breastfeeding should not be painful; it should be something that both you and the baby should enjoy. If it is painful, look back at your technique for breastfeeding. Is the baby latching on correctly to the breast? Does his/her mouth cover most of the areola (dark area that surrounds the nipple)? Can you hear him/her swallow every time the baby sucks on the breast?

Breastfeeding should not stop even if you are a working mother! Breast milk can be expressed and stored in your freezer but it requires that you plan ahead. Collect the milk in disposable bags or clean containers marking it with the date and amount. The milk can be frozen and can last up to six months in the freezer!

Finally, breastfeeding is a unique experience for the mother and child. It is the best way to nurture your baby, and it cannot be duplicated by infant formulas. If you are not sure and you want to breastfeed, seek for more information at your nearest health center. Since World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated, I would like to applaud and appreciate all those mothers who have chosen the right way to feed their babies, breastfeeding! If you have not decided yet, don’t think anymore; breastfeeding is the right way to go.

Elsie Velasquez
Public Health Nurse
Maternal and child health
Matron Robert’s polyclinic II

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