Why pregnant women need breastfeeding classes

New Delhi: ‘Get set before you go’ is what a lactation consultant interprets on importance of pregnancy breastfeeding classes.

Most of us have travelled to different places for work, pleasure, studies and more- nationally and internationally. Do we just pick up our bags and go? Or do we collect information about the place and try and contact people who know about that place?

Then why is it that before embarking on one of the most important journey of our lives i.e. parenting, we simply forget to try and acquire knowledge about breastfeeding!

On World Breastfeeding Week, Dr Shacchee Baweja, lactation consultation, BLK Super Specialty Hospital, expresses, “As per my experience, it is because of the concept in our society that breastfeeding is a natural thing and should happen on its own. But if this is true, then why do we have such lower breastfeeding rates in our society? I very commonly meet moms, who are either not able to feed their babies or face so many challenges that they get disheartened and give up.”

Adding, “Contrary to popular belief, it is not due to lack of will or efforts on mothers part. As a rule, majority of mothers have the capacity to produce adequate breast milk for their baby/ babies, and with correct knowledge and guidance, breastfeeding can be one of the happiest phases in a mother’s life.”

According to Dr Baweja, the main problem is lack of correct knowledge and skilled breastfeeding support. Antenatal breastfeeding education or pregnancy breastfeeding classes are not a new concept in India. In olden times, when Joint family system was the norm, pregnant ladies were taught about the basics of pregnancy and breastfeeding. There used to be many females in the family in different stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding and it used to be a kind of learning experience for would be mothers.

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With so many myths prevalent in our society about breastfeeding and a serious lack of skilled lactation support, these classes have become a necessity. It is recommended that all pregnant ladies should acquire knowledge and practical skills about breastfeeding during pregnancy. Ladies who are knowledgeable about breastfeeding have better breastfeeding experiences as compared to ladies who are unprepared.

On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, observed between August 1 to 7, Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynecologist and obstetrician, Nurture IVF Centre advocates, “Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed the baby that not only positively affects the health of the newborn but protects the mother from various Fatal disease i.e. breast and ovarian cancer.”

She further says, “The first feeding after the birth is very important as it contains pre-milk, colostrums, which protects the baby from various illness. In today’s world, because of lifestyle issue and busy work schedule lots of women are giving up breastfeeding at an early age, after 6 months or 3 months. In these scenarios, antenatal breastfeeding education is important. Nowadays, it has also been seen that formula feeding is in use more this increases risk of obesity during early childhood. Bottle feeding is the major reason of stomach upset of the baby.”

Adding, “In recent times issues of lactation have been seen in new mothers due to several combined lifestyle issues. For a new mother, maintaining hygiene and have proper knowledge and guidance on lactation is important as it is the most important phase of motherhood.”

The antenatal period affords an opportunity for providing pregnant women and their partners and families with information about the benefits of breastfeeding at a time when many decisions about infant feeding are being contemplated. An Antenatal Breastfeeding class Includes:

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– Guidance for mothers about anticipated situations and signs of effective breast-feeding or breastfeeding problems.

– The benefits of breastfeeding to mother, baby, and society.

– Correct positioning to help the infant latch onto the breast effectively.

– Specific needs in the early days of breastfeeding.

– Resources for help with problems.

– Common fears, concerns, problems, and myths.

These classes provide formal breastfeeding education, which is over and above the breastfeeding information given as part of a standard doctor’s visit during pregnancy, and these include individual or group education sessions led by peer counselors or health professionals, lactation, consultation, distribution of printed/written materials, video demonstrations and inclusion of prospective fathers and the family in learning activities.

Significant differences in breastfeeding knowledge and self-efficacy were found between women who planned to breastfeed when compared to women who were undecided or did not intend to breastfeed.

The goals of breastfeeding education are to increase mothers’ knowledge and skills and thus protect them from incorrect information and myths, help them view breastfeeding as normal, and help them develop positive attitudes toward breastfeeding.

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