Mothers struggling with breastfeeding urged to seek medical help
Abu Dhabi - There are immense benefits to breast milk, compared to formula milk - including anti-inflammatory enzymes, hormones and other rich nutrients
By Jasmine Al Kuttab
Published: Wed 9 Aug 2017, 10:21 PM
Last updated: Thu 10 Aug 2017, 12:24 AM
Doctors in the UAE are urging mothers to understand the importance of breastfeeding and to seek help if breastfeeding becomes difficult.
Dr Tina Steinbacher Kokalj, specialist, obstetrics and gynaecology at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women and Children in Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times that most of the new mothers can provide enough milk, although it is natural for some to face difficulty in the beginning of childbirth.
"The most important of all aspects, is to start breastfeeding immediately after the birth - the bonding must start after delivery," she stressed.
"Sometimes there are just a few drops of milk, or not even a single drop, but when the baby starts suckling, the mother will start producing milk."
Dr Kokalj said the first drops of milk are crucial as they contain vitamins, which help protect the newborn from infections.
She urged mothers to understand the immense difference in nutrients provided by breast milk, compared to formula milk - as more healthy elements are found in breast milk, including anti-inflammatory enzymes, hormones and other rich nutrients.
"Breastfeeding might be painful at the start, because the nipples are not prepared, but after one-two weeks it will feel natural."
She said the first contact between the mother and the baby must take place immediately after delivery, as emotions are running high. "It works very well because the hormones and emotions help provide a few drops of milk."
She said mothers should breastfeed every two-three hours, which can also help produce milk.
Dr Kokalj advised mothers to eat a healthy diet, filled with vitamins, nutrients, proteins and fibres, and drink plenty of water. Natural herbal teas can also help mothers produce milk.
"There are tablets that mothers can also take, which helps develop milk."
Pumping can also be beneficial and increase the milk supply, she explained.
"This is especially important if the mother is working - she can pump and store the milk and feed her baby by the bottle."
Dr Kokalj pointed out that fathers also play a critical role when it comes to breastfeeding.
"Husbands are encouraged to attend our monthly antenatal classes with their wives. The husband is the one who must encourage his wife to breastfeed, should she face any difficulties and wants to give up."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that mothers should breastfeed their babies until the age of two.
Benefits of breastfeeding
Dr Gowri Ramanathan, chair of women's services and head of foetal medicine at Danat Al Emarat Hospital, also shared the benefits of breastfeeding.
"Breastfeeding enforces the development of the babies' jaw and teeth, and improves vision in addition to creating a special bond between the newborn and the mother,"
"For the baby, benefits include reduced incidence of gastroenteritis, ear infections, respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, childhood obesity, asthma and eczema and others as per international studies."
Dr Ramanathan pointed out that the benefits are tremendous and extend beyond providing children with the needed nutrients and vitamins, to supplying them with disease-fighting substances that protect from many illnesses.
"In addition to boosting the baby's intelligence, breastfeeding also helps improve mothers' health," she added.
Experts also stressed that breastfeeding helps with the brain development of the baby, adding: "The proteins found in breast milk aids to the child's learning and thinking development."
Doctors said breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the child's wellbeing, but also for the mother's health - as mothers who breastfeed have reduced incidence of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, hip fractures in later life, postnatal depression and post-partum haemorrhage.
Breastfeeding education in Abu Dhabi
On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated throughout the first week of August of every year, women in the Capital had the opportunity to take part in educational lectures at Danat Al Emarat Hospital.
The workshops were attended by more than 75 mothers-to-be.
The classes focused on preparing expectant mothers for the vital days, weeks and months after their babies are born, encouraging them to breastfeed, while providing them with the knowledge and confidence to successfully manage it.
Obstetricians also spoke about the benefits of colostrum in the first days of delivery, which includes antibodies to protect the newborn against diseases and infections.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in over 170 countries around the globe.