CHENNAI: While breastfeeding week emphasises on the importance of breast milk for infants and how lactating mothers should take care of their newborns, doctors say that it is also important for them to take care of their own physical and mental health.
Doctors say that women can have UTIs, back ache, fatigue due to lack of sleep, anxiety and post partum depression while breastfeeding. "Women can suffer from different types of health concerns and they should have an adequate diet and hydration. They should keep a bottle of water near them, they can have like half a bottle before feeding and half of it after feeding the baby so that there is a daily intake of 3-4 litres of water, " says Dr Abarajda V, consultant of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Prashanth Super Speciality Hospital.
She added that taking a diet high in protein is important, and it is better to inculcate protein in the diet instead of supplements. "It is important that the intake of processed food is reduced and a nutritious diet is taken instead of artificial methods of nutrient intake. New mothers can avoid spicy and oily food items and add animal protein to the diet also. Vegetable protein and nuts should be a part of the diet everyday, " said Dr Abarajda.
There can be several health concerns, or which Mastitis is very common. Doctors stress that mothers should take care of themselves besides taking care of their babies. "Early diagnosis is the key to prevent future complications. For which it is important to be aware of the symptoms. Certain symptoms such as flu like signs like fever, pains, and tiredness, breast tissue thickening or tender lump in one or both the breasts,
breast swelling can be few early symptoms, " said Dr Jayashree Jayakrishnan, Lactation Skill Support Expert, Fortis Malar.
She added that taking plenty of fluids and getting ample rest is significant. Breastfeeding from each breast at each feeding and hand-expressing after the breastfeeds can help. Increasing feeding frequency to avoid milk supply drop and recovery time. Maintaining a regular feeding is also important and tight cloths can be avoided and correct-fitting tops should be worn," said Dr Jayashree.
Long term benefits if breast feeding:
"There are long term benefits of breastfeeding in both mother and child, " said Dr Jayashree Jayakrishnan, Lactation Skill Support Expert, Fortis Malar. She said that breastfeeding prevents ovarian and breast cancer, helps in delaying the development of diabetes and burns calories. "It enhances the psychological connection between the mother and kid. Depending on the needs of the infant, every mother's breast milk varies in colour, consistency, and nutritional value, " added Dr Jayashree.
Talking about preterm babies, she further added, "The easier digestion of breast milk helps the maturation of the gut in preterm babies. The tailor-made nature of breast milk helps the growth factor in the infants. When mothers are unable to breastfeed the doctors suggest using a cup instead of feeding bottles since a lot of energy is exhausted during the process. Donors milk can be used following the guidelines. Breast milk is not only a food source but also a complete medicinal source for an infant which cannot be compared or substituted," added Dr Jayashree.
(Inputs from Amirtha Varushini S)