Every nursing mother should be encouraged and supported because breast feeding and nursing a newborn baby can be challenging. However, there are simple healthy tips that can make nursing a baby less challenging and even fun. It this article, we are going to look at top 10 healthy tips for nursing mothers.
1. Eat healthy: The period of nursing a baby may be described as the most demand phase in a woman’s life because the body tries to recover from the stress of pregnancy and delivery, it also tries to adjust to meet the needs of the baby. It is therefore paramount that all nursing mothers should eat healthy to get enough nutrients and calories. Eating healthy is not synonymous to developing a voracious appetite with a misconception that one is eating for two but all nursing mothers are encourage to consume just sufficient calories that will meet their metabolic needs and that of the baby. There must be a good mix of fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrate.
2. There is no better substitute to breast milk: All nursing mothers should endeavor to feed their baby with breast milk except where it is medically contraindicated. Breast milk is readily available, it’s cheap, it’s safe and it contains all the calories and nutrients needed for adequate growth and development. Breast milk alone should be given in the first 6 months of life after which stable family diet can be introduced and the child should continue breast milk till 2 years. It has been shown that there is better mother-child bonding in mothers who breast feed their children and this has a positive effect on the psychological of the child.
3. Initiate breast milk early: Ideally, breast milks should be commenced within 30 minutes after child birth. This promotes bonding, reduces incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia and it ensures that the baby gets the first milk which is termed as colostrum which is rich in vitamins, proteins, fats and immune cells.
4. Let you baby set the pace: It is recommended that breastfeeding should be on demand which implies that the baby should be fed whenever there is need. Most newborn feed every 2-3 hours because of the small containing capacity of their stomach. Let your baby set the pace and NEVER force your baby to feed. As a rule, a hungry baby will cry for food hence always feed the baby on demand irrespective of the hour of the day.
5. Avoid ‘Over the Counter’ (OTC) and unprescribed drugs: It has been shown that most drugs ingested by nursing mothers are found in breast milk and this can cause considerable harm to the babies on breast milk. It is generally advised that all nursing mothers should avoid OTC drugs and should only take drugs prescribed by a physician and a pharmacist. This is important because these drugs can affect the growth and development of the baby.
6. Get enough water for hydration: About 60-70% of an adult’s body weight is made of water and the importance of adequate hydration cannot be emphasized. Adequate hydration ensures that the mother’s makes adequate breast milk for the baby; it helps in the excretion of toxins and byproducts of metabolism thus keeping cells and tissues healthy. Get enough water and stay hydrated.
7. Avoid alcohol and tobacco: As with drugs, significant amounts of alcohol and toxins from tobacco and cigarettes are secreted in breast milk. These harmful substances have been shown to affect normal growth and development of the baby. Alcohol and tobacco affects the heart, lungs and the brain cells of the baby and are notorious for causing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
8. Take care of your breast and nipples: Every nursing mother should be able to take adequate and good care of her breast and the nipples. The breast and nipples should be washed with mild soap and water before breastfeeding; the baby’s mouth should entirely cover the areola region to prevent the baby from biting on the nipples. This causes nipple pain and cracks which acts as a window for bacteria from the skin to gain access into the breast tissues causing infection.
9. Do not neglect exercise: When women are nursing their babies, they tend to forget that a healthy lifestyle is essential to keep the body at its optimal working condition. Nursing mothers should find time to exercise despite the busy schedule. Exercise helps in shedding fat accumulated during pregnancy, promotes strong and healthy bones, prevents hypertension, diabetes and stroke, it also encourages production of breast milk by the breast
10. Don’t forget to ask for help: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but it shows courage. Never forget to ask for help from experienced nurses and midwives, doctors, social workers and lactation experts. All your fears and worries should be addressed to ensure that you and your baby have a successful breastfeeding and nursing experience.