Breast milk is the best food babies can get during the first six months. However, many babies don’t benefit from this best start in life: on average, women in Jamaica breastfeed exclusively for only about 3 weeks.
In the first 1,000 days of life, a baby’s brain develops the fastest – a process which benefits tremendously from exclusive breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding can be challenging. Breastfeeding moms often need help and encouragement, and dads can play a powerful supporting role! These tips can help:
- Join her during breastfeeding classes or counseling sessions to keep you informed about what breastfeeding entails and how you can help during this period.
- Support her by holding and burping the baby to relieve baby gas and avoid colic after breastfeeding. You can also help bathing and clothing the baby, changing diapers, and putting the baby to sleep to strengthen emotional bonding between you and the baby.
- Offer her a glass of water while she breastfeeds. It’s very important for mom to stay hydrated during breastfeeding.
- Help her with house cleaning for her to dedicate more time to breastfeeding and to her recovery.
- Offer your time to take care of the baby for her to spend some time taking care of herself, sleeping, doing some exercise or going out with friends.
- Go for a walk with the baby. The fresh air and the movement will help him/her to calm down when he/ she is restless.
- Make her feel well at all times. Avoid inappropriate comments about her changing body or any situation that may make her feel bad or affect her emotional status.
- Be caring and understanding, but above all recognise her efforts and praise her for having taken the decision to breastfeed, given that it can be tiring and difficult at times.
- Adjust your expectations. During this period, her sexual desire may be affected, but this is normal. Remember that during the postpartum period her body needs time to recover.
- 10.Encourage her to stick with breastmilk, whenever possible. Infant formula doesn’t have the same qualities as breast milk at help to protect the baby from illnesses.
Under the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, UNICEF Jamaica is encouraging more hospitals to support mothers to breastfeed. Currently, only two hospitals are BFHI-certified. The Ministry of Health aims to certify several more hospitals in the near future.
You can read more in this post by our Goodwill Ambassador Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. For more parenting tips visit the new UNICEF parenting website.