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English>>Life & Culture

Tips for breastfeeding moms

By Liu Zhihua  (China Daily)

11:10, November 21, 2012

(China Daily)

Most of the problems breastfeeding mothers encounter can be prevented if they pay better attention before they even get pregnant, say the experts.

A lot of the agony and discomfort can be avoided with just some homework.

"Women wanting to breastfeed are strongly advised to undergo a thorough checkup before getting pregnant, in case they are neglecting problems they may not be aware of," says Xu Yang, matron of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital at Beijing.

Some women have inverted nipples, but fail to correct them in time (usually before pregnancy, or during late pregnancy). When they breastfeed, they will find it difficult and painful, because inverted nipples prevent babies from feeding properly and that hampers the consequent release of hormones that control milk production, Xu explains.

In the delivery room, new mothers should breastfeed newborns as soon - and as often - as possible, because skin-to-skin contact and nursing after delivery will activate the bonding between mother and child, and the hormones that help produce milk will be released instinctively, so the milk supply is established.

In an ideal situation, the baby should latch onto nipples within one hour after delivery, and be nursed every two hours for the first 24 hours. Proper nursing means that the entire nipple and areola should be inside the baby's mouth, Xu notes.

"If pre-delivery preparation is well done, and the milk supply is well established, the chance of shortage will be nearly zero," she says.

While soups that boost milk production are good, proper care must be taken as to when to drink these tonics, according to Li Yunbo, a traditional Chinese medicine gynecologist with the Department of Gynecology at the No 3 Hospital of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

In the first week of nursing, such soup should be avoided, because the baby is small, and cannot have too much milk.

If there is milk left in the breasts, it is likely to cause distention, Li explains.

For those whose milk does not yet flow freely, it is also unwise to drink the tonics because too much milk in the breasts will cause them to become engorged.

"When the milk doesn't come out, or when there is engorgement, just hold the baby as much as possible and nurse it, and the hormones will do their job to balance the milk production and baby's need," Li says. "Mothers need to relax. Stress is a main cause in the interruption of milk flow."

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