DID you know that you spend approximately 144 hours during the baby’s first year to prepare a baby’s formula? This includes going to the store to buy formula, finding and washing the feeding bottles and any other chores related to feeding the baby.
Take this scenario:
A piercing wail wakes you up in the wee hours of the morning, ending what little sleep you just got. You stumble sleepily into the kitchen, look for the feeding bottle to prepare a formula for your baby whose cries are starting to wake up the whole household. This is a routine that goes on day and night where you have to drop off whatever you are doing to prepare the formula and feed your baby. If you are not fully awake by then, there is the possibility of putting more formula than you should, or using less water — the baby will suffer.
Now consider this.
You wake up to your baby’s crying at night and you just have to pick him up from the cot, snuggle the baby and feed him from your breast. You both go to sleep and relax during the feeding session and you get time to form a deep bond with each other.
These are two scenarios presented by Cathy Carothers of Every Mother Inc. who was recently on island to train the staff of the Women, Children and Infants program on breastfeeding.
Barriers to breastfeeding
In these modern times, work is one of the challenges that hinders women from breastfeeding their babies exclusively.
“After giving birth, most of today’s mothers are anxious to go back to work to help meet the growing household expenses,” Carothers said.
The world used to be a breastfeeding society, she added, but as more women joined the workforce, more mothers are turning to the use of formula for their babies.
Lack of knowledge on how breastfeeding works and how to go about it is another challenge that healthcare workers face in encouraging more mothers to breastfeed.
If a mother has to go back to work, Carothers said she can extract her milk and save it in the refrigerator.
She said a mother’s milk placed in the freezer has a shelf life of up to one year or from four to eight days if inside the refrigerator. At room temperature, the milk will still be good from eight to 10 hours.
Carothers said even women who have inverted nipples can breastfeed their babies.
“We breastfeed, not nipple feed. It’s just a matter of learning the right technique because the baby will latch onto your breast by instinct,” she said.
Some women, however, are embarrassed to feed their babies in public places.
Generally all women are capable of breastfeeding, except in cases when it is not possible, such as when a mother is HIV positive, or undergoing chemotherapy, Carothers said.
Giving pregnant women the right education and information before the baby arrives is important to make the right choices.
Support systemCarothers said in a survey they conducted, most of the companies and businesses that showed support to nursing moms have less the problems encountered by those companies who don’t show any support at all.
She said the survey shows that businesses can save a lot on medical costs and absenteeism of employees, if they’re allowed to spend a few minutes each day to breastfeed their babies.
“We also found that businesses that support breastfeeding have more loyal, happy and productive workers because their needs are being met,” Carothers added.
She recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months.
“This is the time when babies need all the nutrients which they can get best from their mothers,” she said.
When the baby reaches six months and above, they start to take in solid food but mothers can breastfeed their babies for as long as they want.
WIC clinic manager Dianne Esplin said the more mothers will breastfeed, the less risk there is for diabetes and obesity.
“When you breastfeed, both and the baby get many benefits. Not only is it convenient for both the mother and the baby but it will create a closer relationship with each other,” she said.
Esplin said being well-informed gives women more options in breastfeeding.
Karen Buettner of the Commonwealth Health Center said the participation of the husbands plays an important part in the breastfeeding process.
“Women, especially first time mothers, have a lot to learn and they need all the help and support they can get, especially from their partners,” Buettner said.
She said breastfeeding is a learning experience, and women with multiple births are becoming more confident with each birth.
WIC nutrition technician Gigi Gomez said women who come to the clinic early in their pregnancy get more help and guidance than those who come later or not at all.
“We make appointments with pregnant women for every trimester so the earlier they come in, the more time we can spend with them in giving them more information in what to do,” she said.
The new food packages distributed by WIC to its clients each month have been redesigned to give pregnant and lactating mothers more attention.
Gomez said exclusive breastfeeding mothers get more food allowance compared to those who do not breastfeed exclusively.
Carothers, Esplin, Buettler and Gomez, all certified lactation consultants, said there is no substitute for a mother’s milk.