KOCHI: Zachariah, chief of UNICEF for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, says that workplaces in urban and rural areas should be made more baby and mother-friendly to promote breastfeeding.
ILO convention 183 on maternity protection stipulates that pregnant and lactating mothers should be granted paid leave of at least 14 weeks. It also stipulates that mothers should be permitted to have daily nursing breaks to breastfeed babies and reduced hours of work.
Working mothers in India are mostly not aware of the technique of preserving breast-milk, storing it in refrigerator and then giving to babies when mothers are away on work. For this, every work place should have a lactation space with privacy and should also have refrigeration facility to store the breast-milk.
Experts point out that workplaces should have crèches, where mothers can go and breastfeed babies during the nursing break. As the number of working mothers is increasing in the state, there should be breastfeeding spaces in bus stations and railway stations. Also, there is a need to set up more breast-milk banks in the state.
Questions and Answers
Q: How long should a mother breastfeed at one go?
A: A mother should feed for at least 15 minutes from one breast before switching over to other.
Q: How often in a day should a mother breastfeed her baby?
A: A baby should be breastfed at least 10 times a day with a gap of two to two-and-a-half hours. Night-time feeding should also be ensured as production of milk is higher in evening and night.
Q: How does a mother know if the baby is getting enough milk?
A: If the baby is gaining weight and urinating at least six times a day, then the baby is getting sufficient quantity of milk.
Q: What should a mother do if the baby is suffering from diarrhoea?
A: During diarrhoea, a mother should increase the frequency of breastfeeding to compensate for water loss. As per doctor’s advice, child can be given ORS with Zinc.
Q: Can the baby be bottle-fed?
A: A baby should not be bottle-fed as this affects the suckling reflex of the baby and creates problem for breastfeeding. Nipple on the bottle can easily get contaminated and infect the baby.
Q: How will the baby manage in summer on only breast-milk?
A: In summers, breast milk is more watery to compensate for the extra loss of water. If the baby feels thirsty, she will ask for breast milk.
Q: There is no secretion of milk in the first hour of birth or in first day. Then, how can a mother feed the newborn?
A: Keep the baby close to the breast and it will suckle. This reflex will cause the milk to flow.
Q: Why colostrum feeding? It is impure and should be discarded?
A: Colostrum is the first thick yellowish milk that is produced by the mother in first 2-3 days of child birth. It is very rich in vitamin A and antibodies. Giving this milk protects the baby from illnesses like diarrhoea, infections, measles, and boosts her immunity.
Q: Why only breast milk in the first six months?
A: For the first six months of her life, the baby needs only breast-milk. Breast-milk provides all the necessary nutrients required for a child’s growth and development. There is no need for water, tea, top-milk like cow’s or goat’s, juice or honey.
Q: When can a mother start giving water to the baby?
A: Water, as well as other foods, like pureed liquified vegetables and pulses, should be started once the baby has completed six months of her life.