Becoming a new parent is filled with the most wonderful joy anyone can imagine but at the same time your going to get a lot of “advice” some of it helpful but a lot of it not. Local Eastern Suburbs Paediatrician, Dr Howard Chilton explains the common five myths that you will get told.
1. “You haven’t got enough milk”.
In the first two or three days you only have at the most a dribble of colostrum. This is the way the system is designed. Your baby has been born from a watery environment and is waterlogged. The last thing he requires in his first couple of days is volumes of milk.
Your baby will not suffer from lack of food or lack of water in the first days. Have faith in your biology. Nature has designed it that during the first days our babies get only colostrum from our mother. This is like a gel-like milk concentrate that coats the lining of the bowel and protects it against invasion from unfriendly germs and has many other biological components to protect the baby. These are diluted or removed by the addition of unnecessary supplementary formula feeds. Please consult with a qualified IBCLC (International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant) if you have further concerns.
2. A little formula is good for him
Formula given to the baby in the first few days disrupts the beautifully interlocking relationship between the colostrum and the developing gut in the baby. In the early days the lining of the babies bowel is wide open to colonisation by germs around him. The baby’s immunity is set up not to react to these ‘friendly’ germs as it assumes they are from his mother. Colostrum and human milk then encourage the growth of such friendly probiotic germs like Lactobacillus and specifically defend him against pathogenic (disease causing) germs. Following formula it takes several weeks for the baby’s bowel to re-establish the germ profile of the breastfed baby.
That is not to say that formula should not be given if it is medically indicated, (in the case of delayed lactation, excessive weight loss, low blood sugar,) but it should not be given unless it is necessary.
3. “Don’t cuddle him too much or you’ll spoil him.”
Our knowledge of the development of the baby’s brain tells us that the only thing the babies can learn in his first few months is his mother’s smell and taste, the sound of her voice, and the touch of her skin. He doesn’t have the brainpower to learn how to space his feeds or sleep all night. Neither can he learn any bad habits.
4. My baby is not sleeping enough.
In the first few days babies tend to doze during the day and be wide awake, wanting to feed, all night. They are being sensible. They know the night feeds induce prolactin hormone in their mother’s body better than day feeds. This is the hormone that gets the milk flowing in the breast.
New babies also come with different temperaments, some are sleepy and some are live wires and seem to need very little sleep. Try and sleep when he sleeps in the first days, and limit your visitors.
5. “He got the ‘Wind’.
All babies have wind. They swallow air, and the valve between the gullet and the stomach is very weak. Most babies posset and vomit feeds – this valve can’t even trap a feed, let alone trap an air bubble that needs back-pounding to release it. So don’t bother burping the baby.
And they are fed milk that is full of lactose. Break down lactose in the gut and you have hydrogen gas. So babies also fart like troopers. It’s not something you have to deal with or control. Ignore it.
Written by Dr Howard Chilton, Paediatrican and Neonatologist, author of Baby on Board and Your Cherished Baby www.babydoc.com.au
Dr Chilton does weekly talks and Q & A sessions each week at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
(3rd Floor main room, between the two postnatal wards, every Thursday 10.15 – 11.30am. All parents, grandparents, or passersby are welcome).