Child health experts have urged mothers to breastfeed their newborns within the first 30 minutes to one hour after delivery, noting that doing so is of great health benefit to the baby.
The experts, a Consultant Paediatric Haematologist and Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araban Prof. Edamisan Temiye, and a Paediatrician, Neonatologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Zainab Imam, noted that early breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the baby but also to the mother.
According to them, not breastfeeding early could give room for newborns to develop irreversible health complications and infections.
Prof. Temiye warned that if a baby is not breastfed early enough, they may become hypoglycaemia, which means a dangerously low level of sugar in the blood.
“Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for low blood sugar in newborns. It is common immediately after birth but usually corrects itself when the infant begins feeding regularly.
“Hypoglycaemia in a newborn is treatable however, without treatment; this medical condition can cause lasting damage.”
Hypoglycaemia, must be prevented at all costs because it may lead to irreversible damage to the brain of the baby.
He further added that if feeding is not delayed, the problem of the baby not sucking will be solved almost immediately.
The paediatrician also noted that there may, however, be instances when a baby should not be breastfed early to prevent further complications.
He said instances like, “If the baby is delivered and didn’t cry at birth, that kind of baby cannot breastfeed at that time, if you have an extremely premature baby, the baby should not breastfeed immediately.
“There are also some babies that are born and have some malformations that can cause problems for the baby and it will not be able to suck. Some other deformations like intestinal obstruction and other forms of malformations.”
Prof. Temiye stated further that in a situation when a mother is unable to breastfeed within the stipulated time, the alternative is to use a breast milk substitute which is formula.
He said, “The alternative available when the mother cannot breastfeed is a formula but for babies that have galactosemia, they have to take a special formula because if you give the baby normal formula the baby will suffer the same effect so the special formula must be galactose free.”
He further advised that exclusive breastfeeding should be taught right from secondary school and not just in universities or when a woman is pregnant.