Heather Welford shows us some tips and facts about breastfeeding.
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Julie Peasgood: Most new parents will have been told by health professionals that breast is best. Human milk contains the right amount of nutrients in the right proportions for the growing baby. It contains many unique components and is therefore considered to be the very best for a new baby. But, some women find it painful, exhausting and sometimes embarrassing. I'd like to welcome to this studio, Heather Welford, a breastfeeding counselor of the National Childbirth Trust, to answer questions on issues around breastfeeding. Welcome to you Heather. Heather Welford: Hello Julie! Julie Peasgood: Thank you for joining us. Let's start with the question we all ask, how crucial is it to breastfeed? How much does it matter if we do or we don't? Heather Welford: Well, the research is quite clear that formula-fed babies don't get the benefits of breast milk. Breastfeeding does keep a new baby healthy. It helps to avoid many of the common infections. It's maybe not a matter of life and death in the West where we've got clean water and enough money to buy a formula, but the research is quite clear, breastfed babies do tend to be healthier and that health benefit can last quite a long time. Julie Peasgood: Good! Do you think there is a pressure there, Heather, on mums who choose not to breastfed to make -- do you think they feel very guilty? Heather Welford: They can do and I think along with health professionals telling people that breast milk is the best start for a baby, they need to know how to support women to overcome some of the common problems, otherwise women feel disappointed and then they blame themselves, if it doesn't work out. It's not their fault. Quite often, they needed the right information and the right support and the right answer to problems and it wasn't there for them. Julie Peasgood: Yeah. How long should you breastfeed for, ideally? Heather Welford: Well, that's really a matter of preference. We know that the health benefits are maximized if you feed breast milk with nothing else for the first six months and then after the baby would have other food alongside it. After that time, it's up to you, there's no upper limit, nature allows us to continue to feed for as long as we and our babies want. Julie Peasgood: Yeah. What about drying up? I know from myself, I managed to breastfeed for just under five months, and then sadly my milk dried. Is that genetic, does it mean that my daughter when she has a baby, that will happen to her, is there any connection? Heather Welford: No. I would like to turn the clock back and maybe I could have talked to you at that time Julie and maybe helped you over that issue. Julie Peasgood: It was a hurdle. Heather Welford: Well, if you're not expecting that drawback, it can feel quite a challenge and very disappointing. Mothers don't normally just dry up without anything having happened to precipitate that. And sometimes mothers' supply does fluctuate a little bit with issues like going back to work or the baby going through the night, but you couldn't start to bring back the supply by feeding the baby more frequently. That's what creates the milk. The more you feed, the more milk you make. That's why mums of twins and even triplets can have enough milk to feed their babies; twice the stimulation, twice the milk. Julie Peasgood: Excellent! I didn't realize that. What about going back to work, Heather? What do you do in that situation? Heather Welford: The employers today have an obligation, a legal obligation, although, not all of them follow it, to make it possible for mothers to continue breastfeeding while they're at work. I'm not saying bring your baby to work and breastfeed, but they have an obligation to make sure that there's a quiet, private and clean place available for mothers to express their milk, if they want to do so. That can be important in the early months if a mother is still breastfeeding her baby quite a lot. She will feel quite uncomfortable if she goes 6-7 hours wit