14.6.1 Unhealthy beliefs and practices about feeding newborns
In some countries, there are beliefs about feeding newborn babies that are dangerous to the baby’s health. For example, in some places the baby is given food or liquids, such as water with sugar, honey, herbs, spices and animal milks, during the first 3 days after the birth before the woman begins breastfeeding. The thin, watery fluid called colostrum that her breasts produce during these 3 days may be thrown away because it is considered unclean.
What are the benefits of feeding colostrum to newborns? (You learned about this in Study Session 7 of this Module.)
Colostrum is rich in proteins and antibodies (special proteins produced by the mother’s immune system that help to protect her and the baby from infection).
Even after the woman’s breastmilk begins to flow, some people go on feeding other liquids and honey to the baby, in addition to breastfeeding.
What do you think are the reasons for this and what are the risks in doing so?
Breastfed babies may demand feeding frequently, so the mother may think that her breastmilk is not enough on its own. Feeding other liquids and honey to the baby is not necessary for nutrition and it increases the risk of infection from the spoon or feeding bottle.