HMC: Breastfeeding Rates Continue to Increase
Dr. Mohammed Ilyas Khan, Certified Lactation Consultant at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Al Khor Hospital says more mothers are choosing to breastfeed their newborns. He attributes the increase to more public awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and the protective effects of breast milk on infant health.
“Due to the availability of information about breastfeeding, an increasing number of mothers now see breast milk as the perfect meal for their babies and the best way to ensure their newborn’s steady growth,” says Dr. Khan.
He says breast milk is nature's perfect food, noting it is uniquely designed to meet the specific needs of a newborn.
“A unique property of human milk is that it provides different nutrients which are specifically designed for humans and are most easily absorbed by a baby’s digestive system. These nutrients are not available in formula or other milk available on the market,” he stresses.
Dr. Khan points out that, when possible, more and more women are selecting breastfeeding over bottle-feeding. He also credits increased awareness of the five ‘Cs’ of breastfeeding –
confidence, comfort, convenience, consistency, and counseling – as part of the reason for the increased uptake.
“In the past, many mothers felt that bottle-feeding allowed more control over how much milk their baby was getting. Moreover, weight gain from bottle-feeding was seen as one of the major indicators of a satisfied baby. As was creating a routine and discipline – with a feed every three or four hours,” he states.
He says that a woman’s lack of confidence in her ability to breastfeed can impact milk production, noting that mental and physical stress has a direct impact on a woman’s milk supply.
“If a woman lacks confidence in her breastfeeding ability, this can create a great deal of stress and can impact milk production. It is important for mothers to have confidence in their ability, and specifically their capability to satisfy their baby’s feeding needs,” Dr. Khan advises.
Dr. Khan says breastfeeding can build a special connection between a mother and her baby, adding that it is one of the many ways mothers and babies bond. While many new mothers have difficulty breastfeeding in the beginning, Dr. Khan says it is a learned skill and takes practice.
“Breastfeeding can be a wonderfully relaxing and pleasurable experience. Most mothers who have successfully breastfed for more than six weeks are reluctant to give it up,” says Dr. Khan.
He says establishing a consistent routine with regular naps and feeding times can help both mother and baby adjust. He notes it is important to be patient and consistent, adding that a baby who is given a bottle while still learning how to breastfeed can become confused. He says a nipple-confused baby may have difficulty latching or may try to use a bottle-feeding type of suck on the breast.
“When both breast and bottle are offered at the same time, the baby may get confused and start refusing the breast. Mothers should be consistent and if possible, offer only the breast during the first six months of breastfeeding,” notes Dr. Khan.
In conclusion, Dr. Khan highlights that for a new mother to gain confidence in breastfeeding, she needs support and guidance.
“In the past, a mother may have gotten support from her relatives and friends. In today’s nuclear family, new mothers may not have access to time-tested family advice. Hence, professional help can be the next best thing when experiencing difficulties during the early stages. It is this professional help that we offer to mothers who visit our breastfeeding clinic at Al Khor Hospital’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Department,” said Dr. Khan.
Hamad Medical Corporation
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is the main provider of secondary and tertiary healthcare in Qatar and one of the leading hospital providers in the Middle East.
For more than four decades, HMC has been dedicated to delivering the safest, most effective and compassionate care to all its patients.