Breastfeeding should last more than 5 mins, says senior nurse

National 2 minutes, 44 seconds


BREASTFEEDING sessions should last more than five minutes for babies to fully reap the benefits of breast milk, which changes nutrient profile as the duration of feeding progresses.

Senior Nurse at Kuala Belait Health Clinic Norhaliza Hj Abd Lamit said the fat content of breast milk, beneficial for newborns, increases as the breast drains more fully.

“During the beginning phase of suckling, usually within five minutes, the milk produced is higher in water, but lower in fat,” she said. In the medical community, this is known as foremilk,” she explained.

Conversely, hindmilk, which has a higher fat content, but is lower in overall volume, is produced in the later stages as breastfeeding progresses.

“If a baby stops sucking after five minutes, it is important for the mother not to switch immediately to the other breast, but to be patient in order for the baby to get more hindmilk as well.

“There is no exact moment or time when foremilk becomes hindmilk. It is more of a gradual process of increasing fat and lowering of water content and overall volume,” she added.

She went on to say breast size does not affect breast milk production, contrary to popular belief.

“There is no scientific research to suggest that breast size is related to production. No matter the size or shape of the breast or the nipple. What is more likely factor that determines milk supply is how the baby latches on to the mother,” said Norhaliza.

The senior nurse said it is rare for a mother to be unable to produce sufficient breast milk, and more common scenario is that a baby is not suckling enough or effectively.

“The best way to check if your baby is getting enough breast milk is to check how frequent they are urinating. They should pee at least six times a day, and defecate once or twice,” said the nurse, who has over 10 years of experience.

She added that urine should be dilute, and not concentrated.

Another measure that can be used to see if a baby is getting enough breast milk is to track their weight gain, provided the baby is fed breast milk exclusively.

The senior nurse also dispelled the notion that certain foods should be avoided at all costs, or consumed excessively, in order to raise breast milk supply.

“There are a lot of ‘old folks tales’ regarding what you should and shouldn't eat to avoid negative impact on breastfeeding or to enhance it,” she said.

Norhaliza said cultural beliefs on restricting certain foods, commonly referred to as pantang, continue to be prevalent in society today.

“I always hear relatives restricting food items, considered nutritious, without proper reason.

“Some recommend abstaining from 'cooling' food during breastfeeding, like watermelon and cucumber, and to avoid chicken for fearing of causing baby rash. Again there is no scientific evidence to justify this,” she said.

Existing research shows that a balanced diet comprising fat, protein and carbohydrates, combined with sufficient vitamins and minerals, is needed to optimise breast milk composition.

“The research shows that even with less than a perfect diet, breast milk quality remains largely unaffected. As long as they are consuming enough fluids together with a balance diet, they are doing all they need to do,” she said.

The Brunei Times