'It is safe to breastfeed even with HIV'

By Naomi N Published on Aug 06, 2018 02:30 PM IST

Chennai: As the city observes World Breast feeding week, News Today spoke to Lactation Consultant Dr Jayashree Jayakrishnan to understand why the health of mother and child relies on breast feeding.

Q) Off late there is a decline in breastfeeding among young mothers. Is there any reason for this?

A) There is no hesitation in feeding, the only problem is that they are not adequately prepared. A girl who is brought up with good education and career becomes clueless when it comes to motherhood. They are not used to baby crying, do not know how to lift a baby and there is no protocol or time schedule to feed the baby which makes it difficult for them to know whether what they are doing is right or wrong.

Working mothers have difficulty with breastfeeding as some of them are in a situation to join back work much faster. This is not because career is more important than baby, it is because of high level of financial commitment they have. The employers should give job security and make the mother feel secured which gives them relief in breastfeeding period.

Dr Jayashree Jayakrishnan

Q) Recent studies show only 44 per cent of women are able to breastfeed their newborns within an hour of birth and only 55 per cent of all babies born in India receive breast milk exclusively in the first six months. What do you think is the reason for it?

A) Hospitals have different procedures for normal delivery which makes them miss the first feed. And for c section very few centers concentrate on breastfeeding the baby in the first hour as the baby is kept in observation. So both because of medical challenges and the system this happens. But health care facilities should make this as the priority and try and achieve this with every mother.

Q) Some women experience trouble in producing milk hours after delivering baby, what could be the reason?

A) Immediately after pregnancy, the body takes time to get to normal functioning. No one is sure of the amount of milk that the baby will receive in the first feed. Mothers should feed the baby immediately after birth in one hour time and should frequently breastfeed after that, irrespective of whether the milk is produced or not. This process signals the body to prepare more milk for future use and that's how milk production can be increased.

Q) Do mothers with cancer and AIDS face risk on feeding breast milk?

A) Breast feeding is said to be a preventive measure against breast cancer. As such breast cancer does not pose any risk for the baby who is being fed. But while undergoing treatment, a woman on radiation therapy should avoid breast feeding for that period.

If on chemotherapy, the woman should discuss options of breast feeding with her treating doctor or nurse. Many chemotherapeutic drugs can harm the feeding child.

WHO recommends that all mothers, regardless of their HIV status, practise exclusive breastfeeding which means no other liquids or food are given in the first six months. After six months, the baby should start on complementary foods. Its safe to be on HIV drugs and breastfeed.

Q) What is the approximate age to stop breast milk feeding?

A) According to WHO, breastfeeding can be done for 2 years and beyond. Mothers can breastfeed as long as they can. In our community our ancestors have been breastfeeding till the child is 4-5 years also, even now in tribal community they do follow this.

Q) The breast milk bank has come as a great success, how helpful has it been for new mothers?

A) Currently there is a great demand for donor milk and for a preterm it's very important because it acts as a lifesaving drug. Due to insufficiency in donors milk, the milk has been mostly restricted to NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Specialists) babies compared to term babies.

Q) Is there any technique for mothers to produce milk?

A) Breastfeeding mothers need to include galactogogues like murunga leaves, garlic, fenugreek in their diet as these are found to be helping in lactation.