Sister Lilian says

Not too long ago South Africa commemorated World Breastfeeding Week and Child Health Month. These are important national awareness dates to bear in mind especially for new moms who are constantly looking to be educated about their role on motherhood. Moms sent their questions to Parenting and Pampers Institute Expert Sister Lilian and this is what she had to say …

Is my baby getting enough milk?

Q: My baby is a month old and he’s constantly crying. I’m not sure what the issue is. My friends and family say the cause may be that he’s not full. How can I tell if my baby is getting enough breast milk?

Lerato, Bryanston

A: Sister Lilian says

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This is a very common concern of breastfeeding moms, but it is more likely that your anxiety about this is being carried over to your baby, than that you don’t have enough milk for your baby. Remember, babies reflect their moms’ emotions!

Small babies need very little milk at any one feed – they are designed to drink little bits frequently as part of their best survival strategy. Don’t time your baby at the breast, and don’t schedule feeds – simply go with your baby’s hunger cues (restless behaviour, turning his head from side-to-side looking for your breast, and starting to breathe faster are sure early signs that his little tummy needs another nursing injection!

If your baby is having at least five to six wet nappies (including the soiled ones) a day, and he is growing steadily, this is sure proof that quantity is not the problem. Believe in your body, your baby and your breasts, and that confidence will carry over to your baby, Lerato.

Believe in your body, your baby and your breasts, and that confidence will carry over to your baby

Breast vs bottle

Q: I’m a working mom and soon I’ll be going back to work. I’ve been breastfeeding my baby and I’m worried that I have to wean him off breast milk. What are your thoughts on breast milk and formula?

LM, Berea

A: Sister Lilian says

It can be a bit of a fight to wean a breastfed baby onto a bottle and he’ll probably put up quite a fight – regardless of whether it’s formula or breast milk in the bottle!

Going back to work doesn’t necessarily mean the end of breastfeeding; it’s possible to work a half day and still breastfeed baby exclusively, from when he’s five months old, switching to working full days from when he’s eight to 10 months old, because then you’ll be able to get by on supplementing breast milk with solids and the occasional healthy drink for thirst. However, most moms, and maybe you too, go back to work full-time sooner than this, but this still doesn’t mean that it’s bye-bye breast! Start building up a ‘bank’ of your milk now already and store it in the freezer; negotiate to be able to feed your baby once or twice during your work day (after all, the law is on your side about this matter!) and make peace with feeding your baby more often at night.

However, if your circumstances make this difficult, here are some weaning tips to help you introduce partial formula feeding (the next best thing to exclusive breastfeeding):

  • Start the weaning process two or three weeks before you need to go back to work – be careful not to wean baby too far ahead of time though, as the longer he’s able to breastfeed the better
  • Persevere – baby will eventually give in to hunger and accept a bottle
  • Don’t worry if you’re dual bottle and breastfeeding and baby refuses all feeds during the day; you’ll be able to make this up at night
  • Be patient – baby should settle and become used to the bottle within a week or two
  • Cradle baby close when you bottle feed him and give him lots of emotional care – feeding is just as much about nurturing as it is about nutrients
  • Don’t try to stick to a feeding schedule; just let baby feed when and for as long as he wants – this often takes the form of smaller feeds more often
  • Let someone else bottle feed baby during the weaning process – he won’t take a bottle from Mom.
  • Consider a feeding cup if baby rejects a bottle – this can be slower and a bit messier though.

Going back to work doesn’t necessarily mean the end of breastfeeding

Pregnant and confused

Q: I’m pregnant and reading a lot of books and magazines on pregnancy and babies. None of them have answered the most important question that I have. How long should I breastfeed for?

Confused, Free State

A: Sister Lilian says

Babies are physiologically designed to breastfeed for at least two to three years! That’s the short, true answer, Confused. Before you think “oh, no”, take this into account: As your baby grows, feeds become quicker, shorter and further apart and so nursing doesn’t remain a constant activity for all of those years. It requires a lot from moms in the early months (though it gives just as many rewards, if you will just allow it to unfold naturally), but from five months on, it becomes a piece of cake in almost all experiences. By one year babies often don’t suckle that much during the day and this pattern continues for the rest of the nursing experience.

The happy, healthy baby you will have will also save you lots of time.

How soon will my baby get her vaccinations?

Q: Sister Lilian please advise, how soon will my baby get her vaccinations?

Anonymous, email

A: Sister Lilian says

You will be given an immunisation card when you are discharged after the birth of your baby, or at your first clinic visit. This will stipulate the recommended times for each vaccination. The schedule changes from time to time, but the basic programme is as follows:

You will be given an immunisation card when you are discharged after the birth of your baby, or at your first clinic visit

  • At birth – Polio, BCG (TB vaccine)
  • Six weeks – Polio, DTP (Diptheria, whooping cough, tetanus), Hib (HaemophilusInfl B), Hepatitis B
  • 10 weeks – Polio, DTP, Hib, Hepatitis B
  • 14 weeks – Polio, DTP, Hib, Hepatitis B
  • Nine months – Measles vaccine
  • 18 months – Measles vaccine, DTP, Polio
  • Five years – Polio, DT (Diptheria, tetanus)

Foods to avoid for baby

Q: In the first year, which foods should I give and avoid for my baby?

Ashley, Randburg

A: Sister Lilian says

Breast milk is the best food for the first six months of life (or even if your baby is on formula, solids should preferably not be introduced before this time). The very best guidelines for introducing other food to baby is to take it simply and slowly, be led by baby’s palate and preferences, and to only ever offer healthy foods in the first year (and preferably longer) of life.

Ripe, seasonal fruits and veggie-fruits (marrows and squashes) are the best first foods for most, as there is best tolerance of these, they are easily digested and are least likely to cause allergies. Baby cereals often cause constipation, bloating, mucus and skin rashes, and it is better to introduce them after ten or twelve months.

Some babies will never react well to processed cereals. When your baby starts grasping for food and can manoeuvre a finger of medium soft pear or mango to his mouth, or picks up a round of lightly steamed carrot, or dips his finger into your avocado, then you know he really is ready to eat foods – that’ll often be when he already has a few teeth, mom!

Babies are a lot like adults – their taste buds vary, so don’t make the common mistake of thinking that one approach fits all

Nipple confusion

Q: Hi Sister Lilian, is it true that babies have nipple confusion when being given both bottle and breast?

A: Sister Lilian says

Yes, this does often happen – although sometimes it is really more about the mom’s confusion! If you don’t feel sure of your ability to breastfeed your baby, and you constantly question yourself and give top-ups just to feel sure that baby has had sufficient, you can instil insecurity in your little one which will become a trigger for a vicious cycle. The way of sucking is also vastly different for breast and bottle teat, and of course mother’s milk and formula milk are two totally different things, so there’s lots of potential to complicate a baby’s simultaneously very sophisticated, and very straightforward, nutritional physiology. Mixed messages are never the best messages – just as mixed feeding is never best.

You and baby are built for breastfeeding. Mom – go for it because you will forever reap the benefits.