Child's health

I have just delivered my baby and the nurse told me that I have no milk and we need to give him/her formula/glucose water in order to prevent hypoglycemia. Is that true?

Nurses and doctors should be informed that milk comes in after a medium of 72 hours from delivery (more in case of Caesarian delivery). Before milk comes in, breasts produce colostrum, which is perfectly sufficient for the newborn's need (if fed frequently without time restrictions) and very important for his/her health because extremely rich of immunity factors - it has been called 'the first vaccination'.Frequent, unrestricted breast feeds of colostrum and close proximity to the mother are the best hypoglicemia prevention. Cases of real need for other foods are extremely rare. WHO recommends initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour from birth and exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. nothing else than breastfeeding, not even water or pacifiers) for the first six months.Can premature/preterm/low birth weight babies be breastfed?Immunological and nutritional properties of breastmilk make it extremely beneficial to premature babies. If the developmental stage of the child does not allow him/her to suckle directly from the breast, it is advised to feed him/her expressed breastmilk through whichever method the doctors consider appropriate (enteral feeding or by mouth).

As the child grows, he/she can be put at the empty breast for non-nutritive suckling and slowly introduced to breastfeeding when he/she is mature enough. Research shows how non nutritive suckling is beneficial to the development of premature babies.

A premature or low birth weight child might or might not need fortified breastmilk. This must be evaluate in each individual case.

A breastfeeding specialist is prepared to assist you in this delicate process and monitor the adequacy of your milk supply.

Feeding a premature baby expressed breastmilk (especially if accompanied by 'Kangaroo Care' therapy) can help a mother feel positive about her motherhood role, feel that she is actively constributing to her child's health and recovery.

Can children who suffer from a particular disease/congenital problem be breastfed?

Yes! The cases in which breastfeeding is not advised are extremely rare and normally children who suffer from a particular disease or congenital problem have great benefit from the immunological properties of breastmilk. A breastfeeding expert can guide you to cope with the challenges of your particular situation.

Can babies who require phototherapy because of high bilirubin levels (jaundice) be breastfed?

Yes! They can and they should. Frequent breastmilk feedings help the baby clear up the excessive bilirubin by passing stools. If your child is under phototherapy all that you need to do is ask the medical personnel to let you have the child for breastfeeding and put him/her back under the lamps once he/she has had the feed. If the personnel is very reluctant to remove the child from the lamps you may consider expresssed breastmilk as an alternative to formulas.

My baby seems to throw out (vomit) most of his/her feeds. What to do?

Throwing up is very common during the first months of life. In this stage a baby's stomach is not mature and its upper opening might be a little loose. This physiologic condition can be responsible of a scarce retention of the feeds (gastroesophageal reflux) and normally resolves by three months.

It is important to evaluate the extent to which this problem troubles the child. If the growth is normal and there is no stomach pain associated to the acidity created by frequent vomiting, then there is no need to worry much. Few mechanic measures like keeping the baby upright after feeds, preferring small and frequent feeds to long ones, burping the child gently and make him/her sleep on a thirty degrees angle rather than totally horizontal should help enough.

Consult a pediatrician if the vomiting causes to much pain to the child and /or it seems to affect his/her weight gain. The above suggested remedies might be combined with antacid medicines if the pediatrist finds it appropriate.

It might also help to consider if some foods in the mother's diet are bothering the child and increasing the reflux problem. Most common culprits are dairy proteins, followed by other allergens (ex. peanuts, gluten, eggs, fish, chocolate, etc.).

My baby suffers from frequent colic pain. How can I help him/her?

Colic pain is another common problem during the first three months: your child might cry desperately, legs staightened, abdomen tense, passing gas. The cause is not clear but it seems to be related to an immature digestive system. Infant colic symptoms are often relieved by eliminating or reducing certain foods in the mothers diet, especially dairy proteins. Cow milk contains long-chain proteins (different from human milk proteins) which enter breastmilk unbroken and human babies have great trouble digesting them. You may consider eliminating other allargens, if there are no results after having eliminated dairies for at least fifteen days. If your child is not breastfed exclusively also consider allergy to formula or reaction to water/other beverages.

Mechanic relief measures can also help with colics: regular gentle abdominal massage (better setting up a regular massage routine than intervening on the crisis: a child might not like to be massaged when the pain is extreme); holding your child whit his/her abdomen pressed on your arm/knees/chest. Passing stools is often resolutive.