Baby health care is one of the most important areas in parenting. There are many books written on the subject. Here are my thoughts from a homoeopathic and holistic angle.
In the first week of a babies life, there is low blood clotting ability, which has led to the occasional death of a baby. These deaths have occurred when the mother and baby have been separated, causing great anxiety for both. These deaths are very rare, but is why Vitamin K has been introduced as a routine medical practice at birth.
However, it is now known that the vitamin K injection at birth is related to cancer and leukemia in later life. One must ask the question, why has nature done this? The reason will one day be obvious. Meanwhile parents can rest assured that no haemorrhages are likely to occur if homoeopathy has been used effectively for the mother after the birth and for any injury the baby may sustain, such as from forceps delivery.
Why Breast Feed?
Mammals generally have a lactation period of six times the gestation period. This means that for optimum baby health, mothers should breast feed up to four and a half years old. While few women would want to do this, even if the last 18 months or so is only one feed at night, it does show us that, we as a species, have lost that knowledge and contact, which gives so many benefits in later life.
It has been shown that child health, indeed adult health, dramatically improves with breast fed babies. Following is a list of ailments attributed to lack of mother’s milk in babies and toddlers:
- respiratory difficulties
- ear symptoms
- digestion difficulties
- teething problems
- learning difficulties
And later in life some of the ailments include:
- dental problems
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
For the mother, benefits of breast feeding for a long period include:
- delays the return of the period, so acts as birth control (not 100% effective in all women)
- she is less likely to have osteoporosis in later life (her bones strengthen at weaning)
- she is less likely to have hormone related cancers (breast, ovarian, cervical, etc)
- post natal depression is rare
Initiating a Good Start to Latching On
Immediately after birth, the baby should be placed on the lower part of the abdomen, very close to where they have come into the world. The baby is born with crawling instincts and will crawl up the mother’s stomach to the breasts. This will be a slow process, as the baby is still suffering from exhaustion from the birth process. However, it should not be hurried.
The baby will be distracted by the mother’s voice, but will eventually become very hungry, so that the mouth is wide open. S/he is now ready to start feeding, and will latch onto the nipple correctly. Naturally, from birth to first feed takes about an hour and this should not be hurried. Allow the baby to do this in his/her own time. Good baby health starts with allowing the baby to do what they know instinctively.
The problems with formula milk is that it is based on cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is excellent for calves, but humans have different requirements. A calf need to grow to full size in a year, whereas a human takes around eighteen years to reach full size. Accordingly human milk is much lower in protein than is cow’s milk. Good baby health starts with the right nutrition.
A baby on formula is likely to grow much too fast. The ideal growth weight for a baby in the first three months is between 100 and 150 grams a week. More than this is not healthy and is linked to obesity in later life, but is very common today on bottle fed babies.
A lot of crying is more likely to be from overfeeding than under feeding (especially in formula fed babies), than is commonly thought.
Most bottle fed babies milk is warmed in the microwave. Proteins are changed in microwaves and enzymes destroyed, so this is not recommended.
Positions Of Feeding
There are three positions in which the baby can feed: Try all the different ways to find which suits you and your baby the most.
- the Madonna is the usual position, with the baby cradled in the mother’s arms, across her abdomen
- the Football position where the baby is held under an arm, legs to the rear
- the Primate position where the baby is vertical. This is a very easy position for the baby to drink from, as gravity helps.
If your supply of milk is too copious, make sure one breast is emptied before feeding on the other one. This will reduce your milk to the amount required by the baby.
There is no normal bowel movement frequency in breast-fed babies. Babies can have a bowel movement after every feed or once a fortnight. Consistency should be like thick gravy, golden in colour and sweet smelling.
Frequency Of Feeds
Babies stomachs are about the size of a walnut, about 30 ml, so they can’t tolerate big feeds. They are much happier on small and frequent feeds. Milk with a good fat content will keep a baby satisfied for about two hours, as fat takes longer to digest. If your baby is hungry more frequently, look at the fat content of your diet. Maybe it’s too low.
When feeding, the fat-rich milk tends to be the last milk, so ensure the milk is exhausted in one breast before changing to the other.
Homeopathy works very well with babies and is well liked by babies. It supports their immature immune systems in a way I know no other treatment does.
Good baby health leads to great adult health. It’s worth spending the time to get it right.