Experts say a newborn should be breastfed within an hour of delivery

Publication: The Hindu

Date: 7th Aug, 2016

Spokesperson: Dr.Kishore Kumar, Chairman and Neonatologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals

‘Lack of commitment on the part of health workers to promote breast-feeding, and myths and conceptions about it are the main hindrances’

Last week, an anaesthetist mother consulted a lactation expert on how to initiate re-lactation for her two-month-old baby that had not been breastfed at all. The baby would vomit frequently and suffered from diarrhoea. The mother was finding it difficult to handle the baby.

“The baby got used to the readymade baby milk that it was given since birth. Ideally, re-lactation can be tried within two to three weeks after birth. As she had not breastfed the baby at all for two months, re-lactation could not be initiated,” says Asha Benekapa, Director of Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, who counselled the mother to keep trying.

Pointing out that a baby should be put to the breast within the first hour of birth, Dr. Benekapa says it is essential to exclusively breastfeed an infant for the first six months and after that in addition to home made food till the baby turns two.

“In fact, breastfeeding should start even before the umbilical cord is cut and should continue (eight to 12 feeds a day) till six months without any external feeds. This will provide cent per cent nutrition and strengthen the baby’s intestines and respiratory tract,” she says. Lack of commitment on the part of health workers, including doctors and paramedical staff, to promote breastfeeding, and myths and conceptions about it are the main hindrances, she says.

World BreastFeeding Week is observed from August 1 to 7 every year and the theme for this year is ‘Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development’.

Kishore Kumar, Neonatologist and Chairman of Cloudnine Hospitals, says counselling for breastfeeding is extremely important but often neglected and overlooked. “In fact, counselling on breastfeeding should be an integral part of antenatal care,” he says.

Sahana K., Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with Medikoe, an online health platform, says lack of breastfeeding facilities at workplaces for working mothers usually result in babies dropping out of breastfeeding. “Not all companies may find it feasible to build a crèche in their campus, but something as simple as a lactation room with a refrigerator can help working mothers in India to a significant extent to express breast milk and use it later to feed the baby,” she says.

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