Poor lactation a cause for concern, say doctors
By Express News Service | Published: 19th February 2013 08:15 AM |
A newborn delivered through a C section should be put to his mother’s breast within half an hour of birth to ensure that the mother has sufficient lactation to meet the infant’s nutritional needs. Studies have shown that mothers who initiate breastfeeding within the first 15 to 30 minutes after delivery tend to bond better with the child and breastfeed longer, well into the child’s second year. However, city doctors report that babies born in corporate hospitals are kept away from their mothers for longer, delaying the first feed.
Discussing the intricacies of breastfeeding and lactation, a panel of experts addressed the increasingly common problem of ‘lactation failure.’ “Young mothers come to us complaining of insufficient lactation to feed their infants; and are forced to start them on formula at two-three months of age. Though there are various remedies of natural ‘galactogogues’ (substances believed to increase milk secretion); the best way to ensure lactation is the baby’s suckling action. Traditionalists advocate garlic, fenugreek and asparagus to women with poor lactation. While we do not know how these foods work as galactogogues, some scientists believe that the infants recognise the flavour of these spices in the breastmilk, and suckle for longer, thus increasing lactation,” says Dr Mathangi Rajagopalan, a senior consultant gynaecologist in the city. She also pointed out that new mothers who are depressed, stressed or anxious about their baby’s health, or those who are pressured with unnecessary opinions and advice from family, also suffer from poor lactation.
The other panelist Dr VV Vivekanand, a neonatal specialist from Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre, listed out the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. “Babies who are fed mother’s milk have fewer allergies; they are at 14 times less the risk of developing gastrointestinal problems and three times less risk of having respiratory issues, when compared to babies fed on formula. Breast milk also contains enzymes that protect the infant from infections like malaria and amoebiasis,” he explained.
Mediating the discussion, Dr V V Varadharajan, Director of Paediatrics at Soorya Hospital added that breast milk was sterile, safe and at the best temperature for the infant, saving the mother the expense and the hassle of preparing formula.
The panel discussion was organised as part of the launch of a specialised drink called ‘Maplan’ by Heinz India. “The supplementary feed Maplan-p targeted at pregnant women and maplan-l for lactating mothers, contains all the nutrients including zinc, iron, folic acid, whey and probiotics needed for a healthy mother and baby,” said Yogesh Verma, general manager of Heinz’s special nutrition segment.
“A woman drinking three cups of maplan a day, need not take any added supplements or iron tablets; the drink takes care of all her additional micronutrient needs. Maplan is priced at `350 for 500g and will be available at all leading pharmacies in Chennai from Tuesday,” he added.