The benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies are well established but many people underestimate the anxiety breastfeeding can cause some women.
“Netcare Pinehaven Hospital is here to help new moms learn how to give their baby the best possible start in life, and to manage breastfeeding in their busy lives, because breastfeeding really does make all the difference in the world,” says Sr Anne Standing, the unit manager of the maternity and labour ward at Netcare Pinehaven Hospital.
“With good advice, plenty of support, some patience and a small investment in time most mothers can breastfeed their babies successfully. The rewards that come with breastfeeding are manifold for mother and baby alike. Without doubt, breastfeeding offers any child the best start in life.”
“There will be plenty of good advice on offer for expecting and new mothers on Wednesday, 24 August 2016, here at Netcare Pinehaven Hospital, when we will be hosting our breastfeeding awareness event in the foyer of our beautifully equipped maternity ward,” adds Sr Standing.
“Breastmilk is one of the most nutritious substances and is the ideal food for infants,” she adds. “Not only does it contain nutrients that are important for a baby’s physical and mental development, it also contains antibodies that help to protect the baby against common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia – the two leading causes of infant mortality worldwide.”
Sr Standing asserts that no matter how natural or high quality a substitute breastmilk formula may be, there is nothing as good for your baby as mother’s milk. “The decision to breastfeed is, however, a very personal one, but there is no doubt that with the proper guidance, support and care breastfeeding can be one of the greatest, most beneficial gifts that a mother can give to her child.”
The long-term benefits of breastfeeding are also noteworthy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), studies have shown that people who were breastfed as infants are likely to have better health throughout their lives, with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as lower rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The WHO advocates babies being exclusively breastfed for the first six months, as numerous studies have shown that feeding babies on breastmilk only for at least the first half-year of their life, protects them against a host of non-communicable diseases.
Aside from the countless physical benefits of breastfeeding, it is also an emotionally enriching experience. “Most women find that breastfeeding presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bond with their baby. Some mothers find adjusting to their new role difficult during the first few days or even weeks after delivery and say that the mother-child bonding that takes place during breastfeeding served as a vital part of the adjustment process.”
“However, there is more to this natural practice than meets the eye. Mothers have to learn how to breastfeed as it can be difficult. Most women experience nipple pain (which can be avoided) and many fear that they will not be able to sustain an adequate milk supply. It is therefore of the utmost importance that health facilities support breastfeeding training and offer counselling to new mothers,” explains Sr Standing.
She says that the correct infrastructure and support is vital for mothers learning how to breastfeed, and that a healthcare professional can show a mother how to latch her child properly to ensure that the infant is getting enough milk without the mother enduring nipple pain. “Women often believe that they have a low milk supply because their breasts no longer feels full or milk or no longer leaks from the nipple. However, most of the time this simply means that the mother has adjusted to her baby’s requirements.”
“Only a very small percentage of women are physically incapable of breastfeeding and most can correct any difficulties that they may be experiencing. The most common reasons for inadequate breast milk supply include infrequent feedings because of nipple pain, lethargy or poor latching, oestrogen-containing birth control pills, an illness, a hormonal disorder and earlier breast surgery. However, most of the time the problem does not lie in the production of breastmilk but rather in its ‘delivery’ due to a poor latching technique,” says Sister Standing.
While most mothers are able to spend an adequate amount of time breastfeeding within the first few days after delivery, many find it very difficult in the following weeks and months, also to maintain their supply of breastmilk, especially when they return to work.
Many women face financial pressures to return to work before the recommended six-month exclusive breastfeeding period comes to an end, and they may feel that it is difficult for them to continue breastfeeding. “There is, however, always a way to make breastfeeding work for busy, professional women, and we are more than happy to share tips and special advice,” adds Sr Standing.
”Other factors that may influence women to wean their babies early include mothers finding breastfeeding frustrating at first and experiencing difficulty in getting their babies to latch on. Others may struggle with cracked nipples or irregular milk flow. These problems can be trying but are far from insurmountable. Help is at hand to guide mothers through such challenges.”
Netcare Pinehaven Hospital’s experienced maternity staff members are well placed to lend advice on all aspects of baby care, including breastfeeding. The hospital has state-of-the-art maternity facilities, purpose-designed to provide a streamlined service in a tranquil environment.
Netcare Pinehaven Hospital’s modern 15-bed maternity unit, or mother and child unit as it is referred to, is equipped to international standards. There is a choice between private and semi-private en-suite accommodation to suit expectant mothers’ individual needs. The unit also has a nursery, two first-stage delivery rooms, two delivery rooms and a dedicated caesarean theatre to ensure fast and effective emergency intervention if needed. The nursery unit has a central telescopic pillar that has oxygen, suction and electrical points, giving the maternity staff easy access to the equipment in the unit. There is also an expressing corner for mothers and an intensive care crib which can accommodate the baby should emergency care be required.
A five-bed neonatal ICU incorporating state-of-the-art medical technology is situated adjacent to the mother and child unit to enable world-class care for premature babies and other babies requiring specialised treatment.
A Netcare Stork’s Nest mother and baby wellness clinic which will provide a range of value-adding antenatal and postnatal services, such as antenatal classes, baby vaccinations, milestone monitoring and baby first aid classes to complement the maternity and neonatal services will soon open at the hospital.
“Our caring maternity staff members place a strong emphasis on providing quality care and nurturing mothers and babies before and after birth. It is our goal to give the little ones the best start in life, and breastfeeding is a vital aspect of this,” says Sr Standing.
“New and expectant mothers are warmly invited to join us next week Wednesday from 10am to 12.30pm for our special breastfeeding workshop. If you have a little baby and are in need of some good advice, or if you are an expectant mother who would like to empower yourself with some valuable knowledge ahead of your confinement, please take this opportunity to come and talk to us,” concludes Sr Standing.
For further information please contact our client liaison officer, Safiyya Mohamed on 011 950 5486 or email her at Safiyya.Mohamed@netcare.co.za
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) for Netcare Pinehaven Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney or Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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