Ask any woman who has given birth, and they will narrate to you that their worst nightmare was most likely getting breast feeding started, let alone sustain it exclusively through the full first 6 months of their infant’s life. In Kenya and other African communities, the birth of a child is enormously celebrated by friends and extended family. In the process, the new mother is treated to dishes that are meant to help her produce an extraordinary amount of breast milk. However, this may not necessarily accelerate the secretion of breast milk in a mother. In frustration, some end up using infant formula in place of breast milk while others are simply confused and may happen to mix formula and breast milk or even begin giving the child food items like porridge to close in the dilemma. It’s an uphill task either way even for the mother who somehow seems to breast feed easily.
From testimonials recounted by several mothers, I can attest to some facts that are practical. For one, it is vital to begin thinking early enough about what exactly you wish to give your baby once you give birth depending on your medical circumstances or else. The option is only between breastfeeding and replacement feeding, whereby you can give other forms of milk Infant formula milk. The choice has got to be an affordable, feasible, accessible, sustainable and safe for your child according to the World Health Organization. Breastfeeding is certainly always the best option as opposed to the formula milk. Several concerns ordinarily begin to linger through the minds of mothers throughout this journey.
It is common to hear questions such as:
- Will I produce enough breast milk to sustain the needs of my infant?
- Is the child getting enough breast milk to ensure satiety?
- When I go back to work, which is the best feeding option to adopt?
- How many hours should the expressed milk be used by the infant?
- How about giving porridge or other solid foods when the child gets to 3 or 4 months or thereabout?
One thing for sure is that breast milk production is a hormonal activity that is backed by oxytocin hormone. This hormonal activity is in such a way that extra food may not necessarily always mean that you can produce enough milk for your baby. In fact, one of the most important factors as a mother is to ensure that you are not stressed out at all when beginning and progressing breastfeeding to ensure that the hormone is amply secreted. As well, it is important for you to take in lots of fluids from porridge, bone soup, tea, milk and even water. The fluids allow for the effectiveness of the hormone to produce more milk. A proper diet that is well balanced is vital with about 2500 calories that help you in repairing worn out tissues while allows for proper function of the hormone. With this, “being cooked for” by your relatives comes in handy for a lactating mother- a common habit in African communities. When you begin breastfeeding it’s crucial that you keep nursing as the child demands and not just when you feel like it. This way the child is able to suckle and help in further secretion of milk. You notice that the child is getting enough with the growth and the number of times that he or she answers to the call of nature. For working mothers, I would encourage you to continue breastfeeding without introducing other forms of milk when you go back to work in 3 months’ time. This is the period you need to ensure intense hygiene for which you can express milk and keep it in a safe container for the baby to breastfeed within 8 hours if you have got no refrigerator. If you freeze the milk, do not warm or heat it. Remove from the freezer and let it settle on warm water until it is within the temperature for which your child can feed upon. Strive to breastfeed for the 6 months without giving anything on the side and help your child have the growth you crave for as a mother. As we celebrate the World Breastfeeding week, remember it takes a village to achieve exclusive breast feeding! So don’t shy away from engaging with the community around you to hear about the experiences of other mothers!