Mothers share the benefits of breastfeeding at a BNH Hospital seminar
Many babies are allergic to proteins and other elements of the cow’s milk normally used in infant feeding formulas, with symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal and skin problems to respiratory ailments. Breastfeeding is the alternative, even well into a child’s development.
Dr Sutheera Uerpairojkit, a paediatrician and infant expert at BNH Hospital, is a mother of two who breastfed her younger son until he was nearly seven years old. Based on that and her dealings with patients, she recommends breastfeeding until children develop their permanent teeth.
“In fact nature provides every infant mammal with antibody production until they’re grown enough to take care of themselves,” she said at a recent breastfeeding seminar at the hospital.
“We’ve been misled for over a century regarding breast milk. Every day we’re bombarded with advertising from dairy-product companies. Meanwhile urban adults consume a lot of dairy-based sweets. Office girls love a big cup of iced milk-tea. And that’s why we see more and more infants in Bangkok with food allergies, far more than upcountry, where mothers eat healthier foods.”
Sutheera, who last year published the book “Sang Chevit Mahasachan Duai Namnommae” (“The Miracle of Breastfeeding”), pointed out that the anything a woman eats before and during pregnancy and while lactating affects her child. A balanced diet is thus essential, especially if there is a family history of allergies.
Mother’s milk bolsters the child’s immune system and even brain function, but milk from animals does not.
“When a child drinks breast milk,” Sutheera said, “it coats the entire throat with natural antibodies that catch disease before it gets any further. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, simply offers a good ‘landing’. ”
Women in ancient times simply couldn’t leave their children alone, she noted. Today’s women can and do, but they should be smart about it. “The first rule for a modern mother is to select a hospital that promotes breastfeeding. Then she can arrange for breastfeeding right from birth and learn how to use a breast pump to keep producing milk even while she’s at work, away from the baby.
“If there’s a problem, you have to consult an expert. You might be holding the baby incorrectly, causing discomfort in its neck, or the baby might have fascia under the tongue that hamper feeding.”
Women share their experiences online at www.ThaiBreastfeeding.org. Dr Sutheera has a Facebook page with more information.
Proud to be mums
Anchulee Rochanaporn is breastfeeding two daughters of considerable difference in age – one six months and the other nearly four years – and also two relatives’ infants. “I believe in the quality of breast milk and want to share mine,” she said.
“My girls are healthy and lively, and that’s a blessing for me. Whenever my older daughter caught a cold, I’d give her breast milk laced with syrup and she soon got better. There’s no better medicine than breast milk, with its high level of leukocytes.”
Mother of two Patchanok Chakatis advocates being disciplined about maintaining a stock of milk while you’re lactating. “I always regret it if I neglect it. My problem is that I produce too much milk, so my breasts become quite painful, and no matter what time of night it is, I have to use the pump. I’d like to keep breastfeeding my son as long as I can.”
Sawittri Subsange gave up breastfeeding her first daughter when she reached one year, “and by the time she started going to school she was often sick. I eventually realised she was allergic to cow’s milk, nuts and eggs. So I decided to have a second child so I could breastfeed the older one too. I also convinced his teacher that he should have prepared breast milk at school.
“It’s quite funny now, though – I don’t have enough room in the refrigerator to keep all the breast milk, so I get my friends to store some for me. I’m so proud!”
Manussanun Setpattanachai had problems breastfeeding, “but I didn’t give up because I felt terrible whenever my children got sick. I tried everything, including a dairyfree diet, and eventually I succeeded. Now I give my older daughter a grain drink instead of milk.”
“While you’re lactating, it’s crucial that you have the support of everyone around you,” said Soontaree Suanprasert. “I had problems breastfeeding too because I can produce less milk, but I just kept the pump handy all the time – at the office, in meetings and even driving. Seeing my daughter healthy and developing so well makes all the extra effort worthwhile.”