It is World Breastfeeding Week; it is celebrated to encourage breasfeeding and improve the health of babies all around the world. This celebration holds annually from August 1st to August 7th; the theme for this year is – Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility. In a recent interview with UNICEF, lactation expert and former president of the International Lactation Consultant Association, Dr. Michele Griswold, answered some of the many questions surrounding breastfeeding.
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Here’s what she had to say
“Did you know that your nipples have good bacteria? So you don’t need to wash them before breastfeeding.
My name is Dr. Michele Griswald, and this is my Mini Parenting Master Class on breastfeeding.”
Is breastfeeding easy?
“Sometimes mothers get messages that breastfeeding is natural and it’s easy. Sometimes breastfeeding can be easy with the first baby, and hard with the second baby for the same mother. So it really just depends.”
Does breastfeeding hurt?
“You shouldn’t stop breastfeeding if your nipples hurt. You should keep breastfeeding but you should get help to see why it’s hurting
How much should my baby eat?
“They should see signs of hunger about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. Newborn babies need to eat a lot because they’re growing rapidly. They double their birth weight in the first six months of life, or before. So you can imagine how much you would need to eat if you had to double your weight.”
Should I wash my nipples before breastfeeding?
“It’s not necessary to wash your nipples before you breastfeed, because the breasts and the skin around the nipple actually produce good bacteria. And it’s that good bacteria that helps to prevent infections on the mother’s breast.”
When should I start breastfeeding?
“The first hour after birth is a very important time for the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding is very organized, neurological behavior. And so right after birth, keeping them against the mother’s skin can help them to be calm enough to start to seek the breast. And if we do just leave mothers and babies like that after birth, then they will usually start to go towards the breast on their own. Within about 30 minutes to one hour.”
What should I eat while breastfeeding?
“Most mothers can eat anything they want when they breastfeed. They can follow their normal diet. And the interesting thing is whatever they eat, the babies will taste through their milk and start to get them ready for table foods when they’re about 6 months old.
When should I wean my baby?
“Babies will naturally wean starting around one year of age or so because developmentally, they’re changing so much. They’re becoming less focused on their mother, and more focused on learning about the world around them.”
Will I have to wean my baby when I get back to work?
“We would hope that mothers who return to work do not have to wean their babies. Mothers need time and they need support to continue to breastfeed their babies. They need the support of their family, they need the support of their workplace, their employers, they need the support of their entire community.
Breastfeeding is not just about food. It’s part of a nurturing care package that helps children to grow and thrive throughout their entire lives”.
Source: UNICEF Mini Parenting Masterclass with Dr. Michele Griswold Ph.D., MPH, RN, IBCLC.
Dr. Griswold is a lactation consultant, registered nurse, breastfeeding researcher, and advocate. She represents the International Lactation Consultant Association to the WHO/UNICEF Global Breastfeeding Collective, which calls on governments and society as a whole to provide mothers the support they need to breastfeed.