Doula support in Seychelles: Breastfeeding advice |30 December 2020
In the following interview with Seychelles NATION, Celia Ponzo shares her knowledge and advice about breastfeeding and postpartum support.
Ms Ponzo is the founder of Birth & Beyond – a new Doula support service that will soon be available to women and their partners in Seychelles.
She has a Bsc in Medical Anthropology, a Masters in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and she has also trained to be a Maternal Support Practioner (Doula).
Seychelles NATION: Tell us about your specialisation in breastfeeding and postpartum support.
Celia Ponzo: I chose to specialise in breastfeeding in order to prepare new mothers while they are pregnant already with the knowledge they need to kick-start their breastfeeding journey. As natural as breastfeeding is, taking the time to prepare yourself, understanding the physiology and what can maximise your milk production, can really help with a smooth postpartum start. I will also focus on postpartum breastfeeding support for new mothers who encounter difficulties or concerns and wish to continue breastfeeding.
We have all heard that breast milk is best and of the immense benefits that we can give to our baby through breastfeeding. However, if we promote this, we also need to have the support system present. With no support, it is understandable that mothers switch to formula in order to feed their babies. This leads to guilt as there is so much pressure to breastfeed in society. I hope to be able to provide that support prenatally and postnatally to maximise the number of breastfeeding mothers.
Seychelles NATION: What are some of these benefits of breastfeeding?
Celia Ponzo: Breastfeeding has immense benefits to both mother and child. It promotes a strong immune system for the baby, lines the gut with a coating that protects the baby from pathogens, promotes cognitive development, prevents cancer, controls appetite, acts as a pain relief, and many more.
The first milk also known as liquid gold is called colostrum coats and seals a newborn's stomach lining. The antibodies present in breast milk protect against illnesses such as acute infections like pneumonia, ear infection, diarrhea, influenza, meningitis and urinary tract infection.
The impacts are many for the mother too, including reducing her risk of cancer, particularly breast and ovarian cancer, protecting her against type 2 diabetes, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis. The latest scientific studies also show that it protects against future obesity which, as we know, is a big public health concern along with diabetes in Seychelles.
Moreover, breastfeeding impacts on the mother and child relationship, forming a very strong and healthy attachment from the start.
Breastfeeding is also sustainable as it has no environmental impact which is something to also keep in mind if you are someone who lives a sustainable life. For those with financial concerns, it is also something to keep in mind as the cost of bottles, formula milk and fuel to go get milk is also something to consider and add up.
Seychelles NATION: You mentioned that many women don't have the support they need to continue breastfeeding and switch to formula. Tell us more about this; what kind of support do they need?
Celia Ponzo: There are a few concerns that can pop up during breastfeeding that can make breastfeeding an unpleasant and sometimes painful experience. This can include cracked nipples due to poor latching or even as far as mastitis, requiring antibiotic treatment.
Identifying the problems as well as helping a mother find, for example, a position that can facilitate more comfort for both mother and child can help. Breastfeeding is all about the release of the hormone oxytocin and it is important to also take care of the mother's emotional status in order to promote that oxytocin release which will increase her milk flow.
Seychelles NATION: How long is breastfeeding recommended and how does breast milk compare to formula?
Celia Ponzo: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of a baby's life. Exclusive meaning that no other food or liquids, including water, is needed at this time. It is also recommended that breastfeeding is done on demand, as much as the baby wants, day and night.
There are ways in which formula is similar to breast milk: they both provide energy, hydration and nutrients, so your baby will grow whichever milk he/she is given. Despite advances in how baby milk powder is formulated and manufactured, it doesn’t come close to matching the health benefits of breast milk.
Human milk has evolved over millions of years to be the perfect food for human babies. It’s much more complex than other mammals’ milk as it builds our more complex brains and unique digestive and immune systems.
One of the benefits of breast milk over formula is that it’s a living fluid. It adapts to your baby’s changing circumstances. So if your baby becomes ill, your body makes extra white blood cells and antibodies that travel into your milk and help fight infection.
In contrast, cow’s milk, from which most formula is made, meets the specific needs of calves. It’s not safe for human babies to drink, so it has to be processed intensively when made into formula for infants.
Seychelles NATION: What advice would you like to share to women with regard to breastfeeding and postpartum support?
Celia Ponzo: I would like to advise all women to prepare themselves prenatally if they wish to breastfeed their child. It is important to talk to your support system around you of your wishes so they will be able to support you through potential difficulties.
I also recommend to seek support if you have any discomforts as breastfeeding should not be physically uncomfortable. Do not wait until you are in acute pain to get help, but rather identify the subtle discomforts that can be addressed early enough.
Finally, I would like to address the emotion of guilt. Too many women carry guilt once they become mothers, putting pressure on themselves for doing things that are considered right and the best. This definitely impacts women’s mental state which automatically impacts their baby as babies are satellites of emotions and will pick up everything that the mother will feel.
The saying “happy mummy, happy baby” is so true. Every woman has the choice to choose whether to breastfeed or not and they should be supported in whatever journey they wish to take and not be judged for any decision that they take.
For more information, contact Ms. Ponzo:
- Telephone: 2 780 232
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow: birth_beyond_ on Instagram