A to Z about breastfeeding

Fakeeh University Hospital supports the World Breastfeeding Week campaign with the message that breastfeeding is vital for the survival and well-being of both mother and child

By Mitchelle D'Souza

Published: Thu 26 Aug 2021, 12:00 AM

Breastfeeding is among the most crucial ways to ensure the survival and health of a child. For the purpose of spreading awareness about the significance of breastfeeding, every year World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated. WBW is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness and galvanising actions on issues related to breastfeeding. This annual celebration is held every year in more than 120 countries, from August 1 to 7. WBW is organised by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and is considered to be one of the largest joint campaigns of international organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

Evolution of WBW

The history of WBW goes back to 1990, when the WHO and UNICEF framed a memorandum to support and promote breastfeeding. In 1991, the WABA was formed to accomplish UNICEF and WHO's objectives. One whole week starting from August 1 to August 7 was dedicated in 1992 to advance the campaign. Since 2016, the WBW has been aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

WBW2021 campaign

For the year 2021, WABA has selected the theme: Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility. The theme focuses on how breastfeeding imparts to the survival, health, and well being of the mother and the child. According to WABA, the objectives of this year are to:

  • Inform people about the importance of protecting breastfeeding
  • Anchor breastfeeding support as a vital public health responsibility
  • Engage with individuals and organisations for greater impact
  • Galvanise action on protecting breastfeeding to improve public health
  • Significance of World Breastfeeding Week

The World Breastfeeding Week seeks to highlight the immense benefits that breastfeeding holds for the welfare and health of babies. It aims to call attention to the advantages of breastfeeding on maternal health, at the same time, focusing on better nutrition, poverty alleviation, and food security. The WBW serves a dual purpose of improving the well-being of babies and promoting, protecting, and supporting the rights of women to breastfeed at any time and at any place.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby

Breastfeeding is the most effective way to ensure an infant's survival and health. It is extremely crucial for the baby, especially during the first couple of hours of birth. Breast milk provides the ideal nourishment to infants. Breast milk is a perfect blend of everything that a baby needs to grow. It is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and fat, all in the right amounts and easy to digest. In addition to that, breast milk contains antibodies that help the baby fight against bacteria and viruses, which can have a significant impact on the baby's health, especially in those early months. Breastfeeding may also reduce the risks of many diseases in children, including respiratory tract infections, gut infections, bowel diseases, diabetes, childhood leukaemia, colds, and infections.

Breastfeeding also encourages healthy weight gain in babies and also helps in preventing childhood obesity. Breastfed kids have stronger immune systems, lower rates of infant mortality, less illness overall, lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), better vision, and fewer cases of bacterial meningitis. Well breastfed babies may become much healthier children along with fewer risks of type 1 and 2 diabetes, allergies, asthma, and speech and orthodontic problems.

Breastfeeding benefits for the mother

Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby, but also for the mother. Breastfeeding promotes faster weight loss after birth. It can help you to lose pregnancy weight as breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day to build and maintain a steady milk supply. It stimulates the uterus to contract and come back to its normal size. Breastfeeding women may have a reduced risk of many diseases like arthritis, high blood fats, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases.

Breastfeeding also encourages a more positive mood. It lessens the danger of anaemia and postpartum depression. Additionally, breastfeeding produces soothing hormones, namely oxytocin and prolactin. These hormones reduce stress and promote positive feelings. Apart from the physical advantages, breastfeeding stimulates emotional satisfaction as well. The bond between the mother and the baby grows stronger, as the mother learns to read their baby's cues and babies learn to trust back. Breastfeeding is also a very economical solution as you do not have to invest in buying measured formula, warm bottles, and sterilising nipples.

Tips for new breastfeeding mums

  • Breastfeeding or nursing is one of the first acts of nurturing and loving your new-born baby. No matter how emotional and pleasing it may sound, breastfeeding can be challenging, especially for new moms. Here are some tips that can be helpful for mothers nursing their babies for the first time:
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help when you breastfeed your baby within the first hour of delivery. Reach out to the nurses, as they can help you with details on how to position the baby, how to make sure the baby is latching on correctly or not.
  • Allow your infant to set the pace of nursing. Do not set predetermined time intervals. Your baby knows about his/her own needs much better than you. Let the child determine how often to breastfeed. Look for signs of hunger like restlessness, lips movements, sucking motions, and stirring.
  • Make sure to keep your baby in the same room with you. It will not only make it easier for you to breastfeed, but will also reduce the risk of sudden infant deaths.
  • Stay relaxed and get comfortable while nursing. You will be spending a significant portion of your time holding and breastfeeding your baby. Therefore, it is important to get in a comfortable and supportive position and stay relaxed while breastfeeding.
  • Taking care of your nipples is equally important. Let the milk dry naturally on your nipple after nursing. It helps in soothing your nipples. Try to minimise the use of shampoo, soaps, and other products on your nipples.
  • Keep in mind to make healthy lifestyle choices. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Refrain from smoking and drinking. Do not forget to rest as much as possible.

Promoting breastfeeding is crucial, as this simple yet effective act can save more than 700,000 lives each year, the majority of which are infants under six months. Breastfeeding is considered to be one of the best investments for saving lives and improving the well being of individuals and nations. Only two out of five babies in low to middle-income countries are breastfed in the first hour of their lives. The aim of celebrating World Breastfeeding Week is to bridge this gap and protect, promote and support breastfeeding to achieve sustainable development.

Fakeeh University Hospital (FUH) stands with the global vision of promoting and encouraging breastfeeding. With this objective in mind, FUH also educates pregnant couples on the benefits and management of breastfeeding. A specially designed antenatal programme — The FUH Life Parenthood Program is designed to partner with pregnant couples in their journey of parenthood — from the first steps into pregnancy to the first steps in their child’s life. Spread across four weeks, FUH’s antenatal classes help parents-to-be get ready for labour and birth, breastfeeding, care and safety tips for your baby. These classes also encourage making informed decisions as birth approaches.

Dr Jayacy Jayankar, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

FUH wishes to empower pregnant couples during their incredible journey of parenthood. Rooted in a 43-year legacy inpatient care, an individual’s needs are attended to by highly qualified medical, midwifery and nursing staff. So, one can be rest assured that they will be looked after every step of the way, said Dr Jayacy Jayankar, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.

  • Programme features
  • Antenatal Classes
  • Parent Support Group
  • Integrated Healthcare
  • Specialist Consultants
  • Midwife support

Dr Alaa Younus Mohammed, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

“In addition to its own state-of-the-art birthing units, guaranteeing a smooth and safe delivery for all expecting mothers, the hospital offers FUH Life-Parenthood programme, which helps expecting mothers along their journey to parenthood, putting the mother and her child first,” says Dr Alaa Younus Mohammed, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.

“Through an integrated care approach, the hospital works with a multidisciplinary team to serve both expectant mother and baby. Complimentary classes are conducted every week covering various concerns of new parents right from labour pain management and breastfeeding to baby safety and more,” Mohammed added.

For more information, visit Fuh.care or write to fuhlife@fakeeh.care.

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