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Breastfeeding

By: drtaher Verified Member MouthShut Verified Member Posted Jun 12, 2009 Parenting 607 Views

As a pediatrician, who can have a better understanding of breast milk being the best nourishment for a growing infant than me? I have, as a matter of personal interest, made it a mission in my practice to promote the art and science of breastfeeding among the new (and old) mothers of India. Breastfeeding is one of the miracles of Mother Nature (or you can even say, God, Ishwar, Allah, Jehovah, Ahura Mazda, Khuda).

Breast milk begins to be made in the breasts of a mother-to-be from the sixth month of pregnancy. This milk is small in quantity till the baby is born, and remains small in quantity for the first few days of life after the birth of the baby. This milk is less in quantity, but it is a powerhouse of defense, nourishment and energy. No amount of it must be wasted, even if it looks dull and yellowish or watery in nature. It has high proteins, immunoglobulins that will protect the baby against many infections, and a lot of other good substances that are not even properly understood by modern science.

If the baby is suckled soon after birth, it also encourages great mother-infant bonding - a quality that will, over the years, make the baby less aggressive, more stable, more sensitive and more loving. Studies have even shown that the earlier the mother starts feeding the baby at the breast, the more reduced are the chances of the baby turning out to be a liar, a criminal or a socially maladjusted individual.

After a few days of this scanty milk, breastmilk begins to flow smoothly and copiously in 99.9% of all mothers by the third day; this is called as the "coming-in" of milk. Once this happens, both baby and mother get adjusted to a schedule of feeding over the next few weeks. The baby is mostly a night-time feeder, and both mother and baby are expected to stay awake for most of the night. In fact, I counsel the relatives to allow the mother and baby to sleep during the day so that they can allow them (the relatives) to sleep at night!

Did the readers know that the milk secreted by humans changes in texture, consistency, viscosity and colour as the feed progresses from the beginning to the end? If not, and if you are a mother, or have the opportunity to see a mother breastfeeding a baby (there is no shame and no stigma associated with a breastfeeding mother and infant pair ... and someone who feels a thrill to see a bare breast of a nursing baby's mother ... is a depraved individual, IMHO), then you will see that when the baby starts a feed, it laps at mostly watery milk that flows fast, and as the feed progresses, its feeding action changes to deeper and deeper, slower and slower sucks, so that it gets thicker and more nourishing whiter and fat-rich milk at the end. This is Nature's way of first quenching the thirst of a baby, and then, its hunger. This is indeed a miracle that can never be replicated by the most expensive milks, be they from a national or international food products company. In fact, this is the reason why breastfed babies do not need supplements of water in their first six months of life.

Do you have any questions/stories/experience etc. to share? Please do write back. To those who have not yet started the journey of raising a family, I do apologise for writing on this topic, but if you have someone in your family who is or has nurse (d) a baby, you sure are experienced too, and can join in the discussion!

- Dr. Taher

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