A lot of mothers worry and become confused about misconceptions they are exposed to in relation to childcare. This is worse in first time mums as everyone including neighbours show interest in feeding them with information on how to take care of the baby.
Some grandmothers also complicate this issue by comparing the new mothers approach to the way they took care of their own children in those days. Mothers are made to buy unnecessary drugs for their children.
Some even manage their children at home with herbal and over the counter medications recommended by the so called “well wishers” instead of taking the sick child to the hospital.
By the time this child is taken to the hospital, complications might have set it. While some children would eventually make it and go back home with the caregiver, some will not.
It is therefore important to educate and bring to the notice of new mothers what these misconceptions are and discuss the medically proven facts.
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Examples of misconceptions related to childcare
1. “This baby doesn’t feel satisfied when I give breastmilk only. He needs baby food”. One hears this a lot from mothers. They feel the baby cries frequently and doesn’t sleep for a long time. This implies to them that the baby is not getting enough breastmilk. You need to know that breast milk digests easily unlike formula feeds.
This means that a baby on breastmilk only will need to feed more frequently than the one on formula feed. These children will wake up more frequently to feed when sleeping. This frequent awakening is nothing to worry about. Just ensure you follow the right technique while breastfeeding.
Also, you need to note that the intestines of your baby are perfectly designed for breastmilk digestion. When you give only breastmilk in the first six months of life, you ease the stress of recurrent constipation on the intestine and you give it the opportunity to mature enough to handle complementary feed.
For some mothers who cannot breastfeed their babies due to medical reasons, you will need proper counselling on how to feed your child to prevent gastrointestinal (that relates to the tommy) problems.
2. “My newborn has colic. He needs those usual medications”. Some mothers complain that they feel this colic is due to too much gases. Mothers need to understand the proper latching technique. When the baby latches well on the nipple, it prevents him from sucking in gas from the atmosphere during breastfeeding.
Also, baby must be allowed to belch properly after breastfeeding. This would help the baby expel any air taken in while sucking. Some of these medications given are not necessary and can trigger allergy or even irritate the child’s intestine when used. Why not avoid any cause of confusion while taking care of your baby and rather stick to what has been proven to be safe.
3. “My baby needs routine medications “. Breast milk itself has some disease fighting contents. This helps to fight any foreigner that enters your baby’s body. You do not need to give any medication to do this. Any baby that needs medications due to some issues surrounding his birth will be prescribed one by the managing physician. However, those medications should only be taken for the specified days.
Any child that is sick after birth will also be managed with drugs which should just be given for the recommended days. It is advisable to stop giving unnecessary medications to children.
4. “My baby has hiccups. He needs water”. The exact cause of hiccups in newborns is not known but it has been linked to irritation of the diaphragm. Overfeeding or excess gas in your baby’s stomach can make it expand and irritate the stomach. Even if nothing is administered, the hiccups will resolve as it is self limiting.
Do not use this as an excuse to give your less than 6months old baby water. If you feel like giving water, instead, give the child breastmilk as the fore part of breastmilk is majorly water. Other measures to manage this is to burp your baby in between feeding.
5. “My baby is teething. I need to give him teething medications “. This has been a major cause of complications in infants. When most of these children are sick, instead of taking them to a hospital for treatment, caregivers prefer to go over the counter and buy several teething medications for them.
Some children with very high fever which might have a cause are loaded with teething medications. Some of these children might eventually convulse at home while mothers are busy worrying about teething.
Some children with diarrhoea often develop severe dehydration when their mother refuses to follow the proper management guideline of this disease but rather worry about teething. Any child that is sick should be taken to a health facility for proper management.
As a first time mum, you do not need to panic. You only need to ensure that any information you need about childcare should be from only qualified health workers.
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