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Story | Research
21 September 2020

QF webinar highlights importance of breastfeeding for mother and baby


Sidra Medicine expert shares advice to new mothers on benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeed versus formula feed. This has been a matter of debate among a lot of women off late, especially with the fast-paced working life that many women lead where they find it extremely hard to commit to a new responsibility such as breastfeeding.

In the light of this social debate, Sidra Medicine – a member of Qatar Foundation – organized a virtual talk tilted Breastfeeding is a Healthy Choice for You and Your Kid, as part of Meet Sidra Medicine’s Experts webinar series.

The virtual talk focused on why breastfeeding is healthy both for the child and its mother.

The webinar shed light on the incomparable benefits of breastmilk in the healthy growth of infants; how relying solely on natural lactation helps both mother and baby gain long-term health benefits; the obstacles that could discourage mothers from breastfeeding; and tips and advices for mothers resuming work post-delivery.

Breastfeeding is a natural process which creates bonding between a mother and her child; it provides the infant with a sense of security and comfort

Naglaa Hassouna

Naglaa Hassouna, a Clinical Nurse and a Prenatal and Lactation Consultant at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Sidra Medicine, said: “Breastfeeding is a natural process which creates bonding between a mother and her child; it provides the infant with a sense of security and comfort. Besides, breastfeeding doesn’t add to the financial burden on the parents, and provides the best nutrition.”

Breastmilk is an ideal mixture of nutrients, which contains at least 15 components, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins, that are specifically tailored to ensure the healthy growth of a newborn, unlike infant milk formulas, which contain only seven components at most.

“It’s highly recommended by scientists, health organizations, and pediatricians for a mother to breastfeed her child for at least the first six months,” Hassouna said. “Breastmilk is packed with thousands of antibodies that protect the baby against infection and inflammation and contributes to immune maturation, especially against immunity disorders, allergies, diabetes, obesity, colic, and heart diseases.”

Breastfeeding doesn’t only protect the child, but also reduces the risk of the mother developing breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart diseases, as well as it helps her lose pregnancy weight much faster, according to Hassouna.

It is very common for new mothers to experience difficulties with breastfeeding in the first few weeks post-delivery. It could be due to the exhaustion of giving birth; the anxiety that comes from the baby unable to latch on correctly; proper positioning; and even wondering if the baby is getting enough milk.

It is important for mothers-to-be to prepare themselves emotionally, and to educate themselves about lactation during pregnancy

Naglaa Hassouna

“It is important for mothers-to-be to prepare themselves emotionally, and to educate themselves about lactation during pregnancy, either through watching educational videos or visiting lactation clinics,” Hassouna said, while also highlighting that it is a process which requires patience and training, as well as the full support of the father.

Another challenge that new mothers face is returning to work. Most new mothers wonder how they will manage to feed their babies in a timely manner, while ensuring to keep up the production of milk.

“Most women get very anxious about resuming work after delivery,” Hassouna said. “There are several things they can do to ease this process. Buying a breast pump and breastmilk storage bags are essential at this stage. It is important to schedule 15 minutes every three hours at work to express milk using a breast pump, and to ensure having an adequate intake of healthy fluids.”

Hassouna stressed that lactation relies on a supply and demand mechanism, which explains why it is crucial to stick to a schedule to express milk while away from home, and to use bags for proper storage. This ensures the baby gets his or her feed on time, while it also prevents the mother from having complications such as inflammation.

Naglaa Hassouna of Sidra Medicine speaking during the webinar.

At the webinar, Hassouna shared a chart that explained the right methods of storing breastmilk, and the expiration depending on the temperature of the milk. She also showed a video demonstrating the correct latching techniques for effective milk transfer, so that the baby is feeding properly and it’s a pain-free experience for the mother. There was also a demonstration of the different breastfeeding positions – the cradle position; the rugby hold, which is a convenient position for twins as they can be fed at the same time; and the side-lying position, which is convenient for mothers who have undergone a caesarean delivery.

Sidra’s lactation clinic is open every Wednesday from 7am to 3pm to provide mothers with important advice on the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby.

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