• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Weaning tips for breast-feeding mothers

UNICEF seeks longer maternity leave to promote exclusive breastfeeding

The challenges to overcome after child delivery include the production of grade-A- milk, speeding up the mother’s physical recovery from the trauma of childbirth and maintaining the levels of energy required by a nursing mother. Another critical issue, of course, is losing the excess poundage accumulated due to pregnancy.

During the first days after birth, the mother’s breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum. It’s high in protein, low in sugar, and loaded with beneficial compounds. It’s truly a wonder food and not replaceable by formula. Colostrum is the ideal first milk and helps the newborn’s immature digestive tract develop. After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby’s stomach grows.

Nursing mothers, as well as pregnant women, need to consume more calories and proteins, to help in the production of mother’s milk. Mother’s milk remains the best for the baby because it contains antibodies that protect the baby from infection. Breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, which is critical in those tender, early months.

According to the medically reviewed report by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH and as written by Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN (Ice) breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies. It has the right amount of nutrients, is easily digested, and is readily available.

The advantages of exclusive breast-feeding are enormous. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old or longer because the benefits continue that long. These agencies recommend starting as early as one hour after birth for the biggest benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and continuing even after solid foods are introduced, until at least age 1 year or until both mother and baby agree to call it quits.

The advantages include lower risks of breast cancer, of ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Others are less endometriosis, less osteoporosis with age, less diabetes, less hypertension as breast milk decreases blood pressure. It also ensures less cardiovascular disease.

Breast milk is effective against middle ear infections, throat, and sinus infections well beyond infancy Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity. The sweet story is that breastfeeding makes your children mentally smarter! “Some studies suggest there may be a difference in brain development between breastfed and formula-fed babies. This difference may be due to the physical intimacy, touch, and eye contact associated with breastfeeding as well as nutrient content”.

In addition, mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk for depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that can develop shortly after childbirth. Breastfeeding may help you lose weight. After delivery, the mother’s uterus goes through a process called involution, which helps it return to its previous size. Oxytocin, a hormone that increases throughout pregnancy, helps drive this process.

Women who breastfeed have a lower risk for high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats, heart disease type 2 diabetes.

Read also: What you should know about your ovulation and menstrual cycle

In addition to your balanced diet, with food sources enriched with carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals and vitamins, the breast feeding mother should eat occasional snacks of candy bars, white bread added to your milk. Malt-based drinks (Maltina, Amstel Malta, Malta Guinness) have been found to stimulate milk production.

Introduce other foods, such as fruits and vegetables in a mashed form as the baby grows between 4 and 6 months, between 5th and 9th months, babies need more calories and proteins than breast milk can provide. Continue to introduce such foods as baby food, dairy products and soft, mashed meat later.

After the 9th month, mother’s milk is no longer the main food but a complement. The baby should be introduced to the family food. Ideal diet should include vegetables, cereals, legumes, meat and dairy products. The diet should include dark-green leafy vegetables, orange or yellow fruits and vegetables such as mangoes, carrots and pawpaw. In fact, children under three years should eat 5-6 times a day.

The mother should provide variety of good food, not forcing the child to eat when it is satisfied, nor withholding food when it appears hungry. Though nutritionists/dietitians recommend 1,490 calories for pregnant or nursing mothers, do not make the mistake of getting that from fried, fatty, salty and sweet-tasting fast food.

Starve yourself and starve your baby. Under no condition should you fast or skip any meal while breast-feeding. Extensive dieting to reduce weight will burn large quantities of fat and cause concentration of ketenes in your milk which can be hazardous to your baby.

Provide diets rich in fibre, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and dried beans. They possess vital vitamins and minerals as well as trace elements we all need. As a mother, such diet will produce milk that contains adequate quantities of the right nutrients.

Both carrots and malt-based drinks have been found to boost breast milk production. Avoid sweet, sugary foods including carbonated drinks that are empty of calories. Choose natural foods to processed ones because the latter often contain excess sodium, sugar, fat and additives, all of which are not healthy for both the mother and child.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine, in addition to nicotine from cigarette smoke. If nicotine enters the breast milk, it could cause respiratory problems and possibly sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

10 laws of successful weaning

There has to be an emotional and physical connection between mother and child. Do not show any dislike for the food you give to your baby.

Cleanliness is next to successful weaning. The child should be fed in a clean environment. Keep flies away from food and feeding utensils. Wash fingers before meals. Use clean cup and spoon for feeding the baby as the use of feeding bottles for cereals like pap encourages the fast growth of bacteria which could result in diarrhoea.

Introduce weaning diet from 4-6 months. Do not introduce weaning before 4 months because it could lead to diarrhoea and insufficient breast milk.

Avoid late weaning (after 9 months) to prevent malnutrition. The child may not get to like the new food.

Add finely chopped vegetables and fruits to baby’s diet from 9 months, when the baby can chew.

Continue to breast-feed during the weaning period as it supplies the much-needed protein for the baby’s growth.

Since the baby has small stomach it needs frequent meals than an adult. Give the child 4-5 meals each day in addition to breast milk. Wash foods and utensils well.

Seek expert advice from health workers on breast-feeding or visit Chief Olu Akinkugbe Nutrition Centre at Friesland WAMCO Campina at Ogba, Ikeja Industrial Estate.

Consult your doctor when the baby falls sick.

*General tips

*Women who stop eating red meat in combination with green vegetables may stop ovulation.

*To combat backache eat salad with washed raw vegetables, mixed with steamed vegetables and plenty of fruits, except banana.

*Eat a lot of berries such as oranges, tangerine and guava that are rich in vitamin C, fibre and folate.

*Intake of foods rich in iron and calcium are necessary.

*Drink between 6-8 glasses of water per day. Fewer cups of water can slow your metabolism by 45 calories in a day.

*Read books that are comical or on things that take your mind off stress.