CARE OF THE NEW BORN: Feeding
When a baby is born, perhaps the most important duty the mother Perform to ensure his survival is feeding him. There are two methods of feeding to choose from, the natural method of breast feeding and the artificial feeding with one of the numerous cow milk formulas feed available in the market, using either a feeding bottle or a cup and spoon. During her pregnancy the mother would usually have decided on which method to adopt once her baby is born. In Africa societies most mother choose to breast feed at least for the first few months many breast feed up to the age of between one and two years. In other parts of the world, mothers generally choose both to feed from the start. This becomes more convenient if the mother has to go work or be away from the baby for a long period. Even so most working class mothers can successfully combine the two methods at their convenient. It is the unfortunate believe in many urban areas of Nigerian today that bottle feeding is equivalent to sophistication. Many mothers who are ill-equipped financially or educationally therefore enthusiastically launch out and invest in bottle and feeds without realising the economic implication and the attendant health hazard to the baby. Most medical personnel in Nigeria today encourage breast feeding for the following advantages it bestows.
Breast milk is natural milk best suit for human babies, all the nutrient necessary for the baby’s growth and well-being are most easily digested and absorbed by the baby so that breast fed babies are less prone to Constipation and other forms of indigestion than bottle fed babies.
Breast milk contains certain substances that help to protect the baby from diarrhoea and chest infection, these substances also protect to some extend against certain other infections like polio or mumps that enter the body
through the gut or breathing passage. Artificial milk does not contain these substances. Breast fed babies are also less likely to develop allergy to diseases like eczema and asthma than bottle fed babies.
Breast feeding is much cheaper than bottle feeding. The milk requires no complicated preparation and the mother needs not do much before the feed. The milk is ready made at the correct temperature for the baby are also no cumbersome utensil to wash off after each feed.
The act of breast feeding offers mothers and babies emotional satisfaction and the bond of closeness.
While a mother is continually breast-feeding, she is less likely to become pregnant with another baby. It is an effective form of contraceptive.
Artificial feeding may however be unavoidable if the mother cannot breast feed e.g. due to all ill-health or death or if her breast milk is insufficient for the baby’s need (if for any reason medical or otherwise) the mother is unable or choose not to breast feed she should not be made to feel guilty or inadequate. Rather steps should be taken to ensure that artificial feeding is properly and safely established. For the first three or four days following delivery not much milk is produced from the breast, this is called colostrum ,it is yellow in colour and rich in protein and the protective substances previously mentioned. Putting the baby to the breast encourages milk flow which increase quite dramatically by the fourth day and breast often become engorged and painful. Initially the baby needs to be feed every three or four hours (six to eight feed a day). It is however unnecessary to be rigid about the feeding time. The baby will usually establish his own pattern and will take enough to satisfy him. Whichever method of feeding is adopted both mother and baby should be relaxed and comfortable. The baby feeds better if he is clean and dry, if he is hungry when is place in the position for feeding, he naturally opens his mouth searching for the breast. For breast feeding, mother’s nipple should have been cleaned with boiled water and cotton wool, she can then place the nipple into the baby’s mouth along with considerable amount of areola (the dark area
surrounding the nipple) this prevent the baby from socking so vigorously on the nipple thereby causing them to become crack and sore. Another problem that may occur with breast feeding is if the mother has retractile nipples (the nipples are buried in the breast tissue) instead of protruding so that the baby can grip. This makes sucking difficult and frustrating for the baby, and leading to heavy and painful breasts for the mother. This condition can be sported during ante- natal care, and preventive measures taken. Even after delivery it is possible to encourage the nipple to protrude properly but in the event of failure, the milk can be expressed into a sterile container and given by spoon or bottle. Engorged breasts may be emptied in this way. After the baby has fed, he should be winded before being placed back in his cot, either on his tummy or on his side.
Bottle fed babies are particularly prone to swallowing a lot of air during feeding especially if they are hungry. It may therefore be necessary to interrupt the feed to wind him. Otherwise he may throw-up a lot of the feed with wind at the end.
Whichever method you choose, do not hesitate to ask the advice of your doctor or midwife over any problems you encounter either with your baby or with yourself. They are always too willing to help