ABU DHABI // Education and Government initiatives are needed to encourage mothers to breastfeed, an expert said.
Many women in the UAE were opting to use formula milk, and encouragement was needed to ensure optimal health to mother and child.
Dru Campbell, head midwife and lactation consultant at Health Bay Polyclinic in Dubai, said one of the reasons for mothers using formula was because many believed they did not have enough breast milk for their babies.
“Babies go through numerous developmental changes during the first year of life, which increases their nutritional needs,” she said.
“Often, because the mother is concerned that her baby is feeding more frequently, she will give formula milk, which then, because the baby is not suckling on the breast, will decrease the milk supply. This can be a vicious circle.”
Educating medical professionals and expectant mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding was vital, she said.
“If health professionals are all working from the same evidence-based guideline, then breastfeeding families will be provided with consistent and up-to-date information. This would go a long way in improving breastfeeding rates.
“One of the most common complaints from families around the world is that they have received conflicting advice about breastfeeding from healthcare professionals.”
Ms Campbell said it was also important that hospitals researched guidelines and policies in relation to the promotion of breastfeeding, and to have their staff abide by them.
“A national health promotion programme would also assist in informing childbearing families about the positive benefits of breastfeeding. ”
Pregnant women could register for prenatal classes to receive details on the advantages of breastfeeding, Ms Campbell said.
New mothers should also seek help and support from midwives and lactation consultants.
“If you are having any difficulties, it is of the utmost importance to contact a qualified healthcare professional, either a lactation consultant or registered midwife, to gain the assistance that you require. Sometimes only a small adjustment in positioning or attachment is needed to ensure a positive breastfeeding experience,” she said.
Many working mothers choose to feed their babies a combination of breast and formula milk, yet the issue could be resolved by support in the workplace. Ms Campbell suggested more maternity leave.
“Employers can also support the breastfeeding mother by ensuring the Labour Law of two breastfeeding breaks during a breastfeeding woman’s work day is adhered to,” she said.
Health Bay Polyclinic provides prenatal classes, community home visits and a well-baby clinic staffed by a team of midwives.
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