Breastfeeding Awareness Week – What All (New) Moms And Dads Need To Know About Breastfeeding

Welcome and thank you for listening!

Nompumelelo Maponya is an Advanced Midwife and Neonatal Specialist, who is passionate about mother and child care, especially breastfeeding. She is currently a doctoral student enrolled at the University of Johannesburg.

Her journey of nursing started at the North West University, Pukke, where she completed her undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science (2014). She obtained a Master’s degree at the University of Johannesburg, cum laude (2020). Her research mini-dissertation titled ‘Working mothers’ experience of adhering to exclusive breastfeeding in the Rustenburg district, North West’, showed that women needed an array of interventions as well as support to continue with exclusive breastfeeding after returning to work.

She has a vast experience of rendering midwifery and neonatal services, as well as women’s sexual reproductive services, in both the government and private sector for the past eight years. She was also a breastmilk donor at Job Shimankana Tabane hospital in Rustenburg. Her research is based on finding innovative ways to assist women in breastfeeding practices in an unfavourable work environment.

Breast Milk: How Much Does Baby Need?
Never mind fashion, parenting is probably one of the most fad-filled activities in the world – in fact; there are baby-fashion fads! This fickleness can make it tricky when it comes time to make important decisions about things like feeding Baby. How much breast milk should Baby get per day? When should you introduce solids? Getting ‘expert advice’ doesn’t always help, because it seems to change as often as public opinion! Sister Lilian Centre offers fad-free, tried and tested, and completely baby-friendly advice.

Read Between The Lines
Anytime you get parenting advice, you should consider whether or not it caters to Baby’s needs above all else. Unfortunately, many fads are not based on Baby’s welfare. One such fad is that Baby has to drink one litre of milk per day. Let’s consider this logically: where are measurements used in feeding? With formula feeding, of course! Breasts don’t come with measurements on the side, and there is no way to tell how much milk Baby drinks while breastfeeding – so why should we try to measure it? Formula milk was ‘formulated’ by humans based on our perceptions of what babies’ nutritional needs are: in order to ensure that Baby gets enough of the nutrients added to formula milk without getting so much that it’s bad for her kidneys and digestion, Baby needs one litre of milk per day. Although pretty accurate in terms of formula, this is based on average feeding patterns and doesn’t take into account Baby’s individuality. The best and most logical approach is to ‘need feed’: let Baby feed whenever, and for as long as she wants to – if she’s still hungry, she’ll definitely let you know!

The Magic Of Mama’s Milk
Let’s face it; mother’s milk is almost magical! Not only does it have numerous health benefits and every nutrient Baby needs to survive and thrive, it is constantly changing to keep up with Baby’s changing needs! We may not understand exactly how, but it’s been clinically proven that breast milk is individually suited to each specific baby and adapts to Baby’s changing needs using a baby-driven biological feedback system. Although it can reflect Mom’s diet, it’s almost always ideal for all babies and is nutritionally sound enough to be given exclusively for about six months – even for ‘big’ fast-growing babies.

How can Formula compare to that? It can’t. The reason formula needs to be specially formulated is because it is usually made from cow’s milk – and cow’s milk is especially designed to meet every nutritional need of a growing calf, not a human baby. Because of this, cow’s milk isn’t actually suitable for babies and is not easily digested; meaning that Baby misses out on all the benefits unique to breast milk and usually suffers with digestive problems.

Shake It Off!
Instead of looking to society, rather look to Baby for guidance. Is she happy and healthy? Then you must be doing something right! Don’t become discouraged by comparing your Baby and parenting skills to everyone else; all parents and babies are individuals, so raising children involves a lot of individuality! Rather choose to believe in yourself and your Baby – just look at how well she’s doing! That’s because she has a wonderful mom who cares enough to invest time and effort.