As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Day, we celebrate all mums who dedicate their time to feeding their babies, whether it be by breastmilk or formula. Becoming a new parent, whether for the first time or again for experienced parents, is a tiring and daunting task. We support and encourage breastfeeding for its benefits for both mother and baby, but we equally salute mums who, for whatever reasons be they medical or personal, choose to formula feed their babies. Today we give our tips and advice on breastfeeding.
Why should I breastfeed?
1. It’s always ready and available!
No sterilizing, washing bottles or mixing required! Mummy’s body is designed to be your baby’s one-stop shop for everything, and breastmilk is available in the right quantity according to your baby’s demands.
2. It’s got all a baby needs
The foremilk is watery and fluid, and contains the hydration your baby needs. So there is no need to supplement a breastfed baby with additional water. The hindmilk, or the creamy thicker milk towards the later part of the feed, contains more calories and nutrients that baby needs for growth. As long as you continue to feed on demand, allowing baby to feed equally for about 10 minutes on each side, your baby should be getting all its fluid and nutrition from breastmilk.
3. It’s great for the newborn immune system
Especially in the first few days, breastmilk contains mostly colostrum, which is the ‘liquid gold’ produced in small amounts by mummy. This contains important antibodies that help to protect baby from infections in the first 6 months while its own immune system is developing and maturing.
4. It promotes bonding between mother and infant
It’s a special feeling holding your baby close to your skin and watching him gain all he needs from your body. While it’s not the only way to bond with your baby, mums often describe breast feeding as a special time that only a mother can provide her baby, and a great sense of satisfaction from nurturing and providing for her baby.
5. It helps shed those pregnancy pounds
Because let’s face it, working off those extra pounds just isn’t something most mums have time to do while looking after a newborn baby. Even better if they can feed their baby while shedding a little weight! Breastfeeding burns extra calories and helps with contracting the uterus (or womb) back to pre-pregnancy size. While we don’t promise you’ll get back to your pre-pregnancy figure, you can reassure yourself that at least you’re burning off a few extra calories as a bonus on top of all those other benefits breastfeeding brings!
What are the most important tips you can tell me about breastfeeding?
1. A good latch is the key to success!
It’s worth spending some time after delivery to make sure baby is latching on well. Not only will it ensure that baby is getting enough milk, it will prevent common breastfeeding problems like chapped and sore nipples, blockages and a grumpy underfed baby! Make sure baby’s lower lip curls outwards and he ‘takes in’ the entire nipple and areola area. Baby should not be nibbling on just the nipple alone – this will lead to very sore nipples and painful cuts.
Usually, nurses in the maternity wards or lactation consultants will be on hand after delivery to guide you through. If you’ve already returned home, there are home visit lactation consultants available, or your confinement nanny may be able to correct your latch. Many of our Onecare doctors are experienced parents as well, and they will be able to help guide you through how to form a proper latch.
Here’s a great tip on which position to latch. The position of baby’s chin will tell you which region of the breast is being drained during feeding. If you feel blocked in the inner lower part of the breast, a standard cradle hold works well. If the outer part of the breast feels blocked, try a football hold to drain the outer ducts. Check out this link for great suggestions on different breastfeeding positions!
2. Feed on demand to make sure you are producing enough for your baby
Mummy’s body is made to feed! Your body will respond in reaction to how your baby feeds. If baby does not finish the milk supply during a feed, your body will receive the signalthat it is producing too much milk, and will slow down milk production. If your baby suckles for longer, the body receives the signal that more milk is needed, and will increase the volume of milk produced. So the body is finely tuned to listen in to your baby’s demands! Feeding on demand will signal to your body when your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, or is more hungry or thirsty, and adjust production of milk to perfectly meet your little baby’s demands!
3. Check the number of wet diapers to see if baby is getting enough milk
Feeding on demand will usually work itself to a 3 or 4 hourly routine for a newborn. Your baby should put out a wet diaper for each feed, so if you are changing a diaper each time, your baby is well-fed.
4. You can do it!
It all starts with believing that you are capable of it, and that your body is able to provide for your baby just as nature intended. There are only rare true cases of mothers being unable to provide milk, for various physical reasons, so take heart knowing that you are doing a great job!
It’s important not to have any feelings of guilt if you are unable to breastfeed, for any reason. Whether it’s a medical or a personal choice, all mothers do the best they can provide for their children, and whether it’s breastmilk or formula, your baby is getting all the nutrition it needs to grow up strong and healthy.
Is there anything I should be careful of?
Mummies who are breastfeeding are often most afraid of blocked ducts. This occurs when the ducts are not completely emptied during breastfeeding; this may be due to positioning of the baby, or to excessive milk production. If these blocked ducts are not cleared, they can lead to mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue, which often requires antibiotics and can even lead to hospitalization and a drainage procedure.
As mentioned previously, ensuring a good latch, and feeding on demand, will prevent sore nipples and also ensure that your baby is getting the right amount of nutrition.
How can Onecare help?
Our team are always on hand to help parents with any parenting advice. Besides being medically trained, many of our staff and doctors have firsthand experience at being parents! We are always excited to share in your bundle of joy, and share our expertise with you. We can also suggest other experts including breast specialists and lactation consultants, to help make your breastfeeding journey a satisfying and rewarding one.
Today is World Hepatitis Day, and the Onecare team is proud to be part of the worldwide movement supporting Elimination of hepatitis infections. Elimination is the theme of this year’s event, and it has only been possible through awareness, education and active prevention including vaccination programs.
What is viral hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by infection, drugs and substances like alcohol. Today we focus on hepatitis caused by a virus infection. There are 5 main types of hepatitis virus, outlined in the table below.
Hepatitis A is contracted through food and water. It causes symptoms similar to food poisoning. Patients generally make a full recovery.
Hepatitis B is contracted through contact with infected bodily fluids. It can cause long term liver infection with a high risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. A vaccine is available and people can be tested to see if they need booster shots.
Hepatitis C is contracted through contact with infected blood. It can also cause long term liver damage. A vaccine is not available for this infection.
Hepatitis D occurs only in those infected with hepatitis B. Infection with both hepatitis B and D viruses causes more serious disease. Vaccination to hepatitis B also protects against hepatitis D, making it even more important to stay up to date with hepatitis B vaccinations.
Hepatitis E is caused most often by contaminated drinking water. Most recover fully, though it can rarely cause fatal complications. A vaccine has been developed, and it is currently licensed for use in China only.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
Patients may have all or some of the following:
How is hepatitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will take a detailed history of your symptoms, including personal information which may be a risk factor for hepatitis exposure. You will have a careful physical examination and you will likely require some blood tests. These blood tests will test for hepatitis virus, as well as markers of infection and liver function. You may also require a scan of the abdomen, which helps your doctor to visualize the liver.
Rarely, a liver biopsy may be done under the care of a specialist. This involves taking a small sample of liver tissue to test for the disease pattern.
How is hepatitis treated?
The treatment depends on the type of hepatitis virus you have been infected with. Some infections are self-limiting, while other infections can be more serious and may require hospitalization and medications. All types of infection will require close monitoring with your doctor, and your doctor will discuss the specific treatment plan appropriate for you.
How can I prevent hepatitis?
Public awareness and vaccination programs have played a large part in bringing viral hepatitis under control. Being aware of how viruses are transmitted helps to prevent certain behaviours that would cause infection. Care with food hygiene and attention to how food is prepared with vendors helps to prevent hepatitis A and E. Safe sex practices prevent transmission of viruses associated with infected bodily fluids, as well as careful handling of needles and protective gear when handling body fluid specimens by healthcare workers.
Vaccines are widely available now, to hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A vaccination (Havrix) involves 2 injections taken 6 months apart. Hepatitis B vaccination (Engerix) is routinely given at birth, but requires screening to see if booster vaccinations are required. Your doctor can perform this test at any clinic, and can advise you on the need for booster shots, usually done as a 3-dose booster schedule over 6 months. A combined vaccination of hepatitis A and B (Twinrix) is available.
Prevention is better than cure
Preventing hepatitis should be an important part of everyone’s health program. It is a preventable disease with far-reaching consequences of infection. Onecare is proud to host our Hepatitis Elimination Campaign this year, encouraging everyone to get screened and vaccinated, to stay healthy. Working with our partners, Innovative Labs and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, we are supporting early detection with our Hepatitis Screening Campaign and Vaccination scheme, at special rates, for the whole month!
This program starts July 28th, so visit us at any Onecare Clinic to find out more and get protected!
What do you need to know about the flu?
The flu is very common, even in perfectly healthy people. It is caused by a virus, and is very contagious and often spreads to others by droplets when you sneeze or cough. Usual symptoms include sore throat, cough, sneezing, runny or blocked nose and fever.
The flu can lead to serious complications, which can sometimes be life-threatening, especially in certain individuals. These complications include pneumonia (an infection of the lung tissue), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and sinus infections. For those who already have chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, contracting the flu can worsen those conditions, adding to the risk of other medical issues.
Everyone of every age is vulnerable to the flu, but special attention needs to be paid to those who have the highest risk of complications developing. These include:
⁃ Very young children
⁃ People aged 65 and above
⁃ People with other medical conditions
⁃ People with lowered immunity due to medications or illness
Complications can be fatal, and more than 80% of flu-related deaths are in people aged 65 and above, making it even more important to prevent flu in our ageing population.
How do I prevent flu?
Staying fit and healthy is a key to preventing not only the flu, but other conditions. Making sure you get the right nutrition, drink plenty of water and have enough good quality rest will keep your body in top condition, and your immune system ready to protect against viruses.
Vaccinations are the best way to actively prevent the flu. These change every year, depending on the type of virus common to that season. Generally, flu vaccinations are approved for ages 3 onwards, though there are vaccinations available for younger children.
Supplements that are commonly believed to help prevent the flu include vitamin C and echinacea. In some studies, these have been shown to lessen the severity of the symptoms, and shorten the duration of flu. While vitamin C is a vital part of your everyday requirements, extra supplementation is generally not required if you are keeping a well balanced diet. Always consult with your family doctor before taking supplements or herbal remedies. They may sometimes contain ingredients unsuitable for pre-existing medical conditions, and can also interact with prescribed medication.
I have so many questions about the flu vaccination!
Here are some common questions we have been asked about the flu shot:
1. Will I be fully protected from the flu?
You will be protected against the types of viruses in the vaccination. These can be the three most common (or trivalent), or four most common (or quadrivalent) flu strains. There are other virus strains which are less common, which are not covered in the vaccination. However, the flu shot will prevent the most common types, which will usually also be the most common cause of complications.
2. How does a vaccination work?
Common strains of flu virus are grown, usually using chicken eggs. The viruses are then killed, and form the vaccination you receive.
Your body responds to the killed virus particles, causing antibodies to be formed. These antibodies are triggered again when you come into contact with the same virus type, and cause your immune system to respond and protect you against effects of the virus.
3. Why do I need to get the vaccination every year?
Viruses can mutate, or change, their subtype. This means that the virus of last season may be different next season. It's important to get the annual flu vaccination to stay protected against newer strains of flu virus.
4. Who should NOT get the flu shot?
You should talk to your doctor about whether you are suitable for the flu shot if:
⁃ You have an allergy to eggs
⁃ You have had an allergy or side effect with previous flu vaccinations
⁃ You have a child below the age of 3 who will be receiving the shot
5. Is it safe for a pregnant woman to get the flu shot?
Yes! Not only is it safe, but it is recommended that pregnant mums-to-be should get vaccinated to prevent complications which could also affect her pregnancy, and wellbeing of her child.
6. If I get the flu shot when I'm sick, will that help me recover faster?
No, it will not affect recovery of your current flu.
You should wait till full recovery before getting the flu shot, to maximise the benefit of the flu shot.
7. Will I get sick right after getting the flu shot?
The vaccination is made using killed virus particles. You will not contract the flu by getting the vaccination. Some people may experience mild fever and muscle aches similar to coming down with the flu. This is the immune system responding to the vaccination, and is not the flu. This usually settles down within a few days, and paracetamol can help with any fever or muscle aches.
8. Is the flu vaccination compulsory for school children?
No, the flu vaccination is not part of the compulsory vaccination schedule. However, it is strongly recommended.
Here are some useful links about flu and the vaccination. Drop by one of our clinics to ask any questions, or to get vaccinated. All of our clinics have the latest vaccination for 2016/17 available.
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