Breastfeeding and Nutrition
At Mediclinic, we believe that breastfeeding should be supported. Through a multi-disciplinary approach involving doctors, midwives and lactation consultants, we promote the important health benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and her child, which are proven by current scientific evidence.
Over the past decades, evidence for the health advantages of breastfeeding and recommendations for its practice have continued to increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) can now say with full confidence that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. The following advantages ensure that breastfed babies will prosper and thrive:
- Breastmilk is the natural first food for babies, providing all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.
- Breastmilk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness.
- Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers; it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment.
All mothers have the right to receive clear and impartial information to enable them to make a fully informed choice as to how they feed their babies. To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:
- Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after birth
- Exclusive breastfeeding - that is, the infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water, unless for medical reasons and parents full informed choices
- Breastfeeding on demand - that is, as often as the child wants, day and night
- No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers
Getting your partner involved
Breastfeeding is a lovely bonding experience for you and your baby to share, but that doesn't mean that your partner will feel left out. There is plenty for them to do in the early days, and they can give your baby expressed milk once you've been feeding for a while and need support.
At six months of age, your baby will start solid foods. However, you should endeavour to introduce your baby to each new type of food gradually and one at a time (with an interval of approximately two weeks), in order to determine if he or she shows an allergic reaction to any type of food.
During your child’s first year, it is recommended that you avoid full-cream milk, which is difficult to digest.
In the case of a heightened risk of allergies, you should avoid certain foods, at least during the first year of your baby’s life: dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, celery, fish, seafood, exotic fruits, cocoa and chocolate.
During your child’s first year, be sparing with sugar, salt and fats, placing emphasis instead on fresh sources of nutrition that are rich in vitamins. At each meal, provide your child with sufficient fluids in the form of unsweetened tea or water.
Where to find help with breastfeeding
It is natural for a mother considering breastfeeding for the first time to have questions. Sometimes misconceptions or lack of knowledge are enough to keep a mother from breastfeeding.
Many women who want to breastfeed feel unsure about what it’s going to be like or whether they can actually do it.
If you have questions or would like more information on breastfeeding, call the Mediclinic City Hospital breastfeeding helpline on 055 605 3005 (seven days a week, 07:00 - 18:00) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the lactation consultant. She can advise on your situation and, should you require it, arrange an appointment for more practical help in the lactation clinic (open five days a week from 07:30 - 15:30).
If you wish to speak to our lactation consultant from Mediclinic Welcare hospital, please call our lactation support line 0565097750 or email email@example.com. Our breastfeeding consultant will help you over the phone and advise whether you require an appointment for practical help in the lactation clinic.
If you call when the helpline is not staffed, please leave a message and you will be called back the next working day.
A lactation consultant is a professional health worker trained to help new families be successful in breastfeeding. If a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant uses the initials “IBCLC,” they have been certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.
Neither lactation consultants nor breastfeeding-trained staff give medical advice.