Breastfeeding is even more important for babies with special needs and their parents. Breastfeeding gives you a higher level of maternal hormones, which increase your intuition and perseverance to meet the needs of your special baby. Because of its physical, psychological, and medical benefits, breastfeeding is even more important for these babies. A baby has special needs. Parents develop a style of caring for their baby and in so doing elevate their level of intuition and sensitivity toward their baby to match the level of baby’s needs. Let’s discuss the most common situations in which babies with needs in unique situations bring out a special kind of parenting.
Baby’s with Down Syndrome
A baby with Down syndrome needs to have the best start possible. Going through a checklist of the most common medical problems that could be expected, it was determined that although certainly not panacea, breast milk could help each of these problems:
* Babies with Down syndrome are prone to colds, especially ear infections; breast milk provides extra immunity.
* Babies with Down syndrome are prone to intestinal infections; breast milk promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract, a factor that lessens infections.
* Babies with Down syndrome are prone to constipation; breast milk has a laxative effect.
* Babies with Down syndrome are prone to heart problems; breast milk is lower in salt and is more physiologic.
* Babies with Down syndrome may have a weak suck; breastfeeding has an energy-sparing rhythm.
* Babies with Down syndrome have delayed mental and motor development; breast milk is good brain food, and breastfeeding optimizes oral-facial development and socialization.
There is a lot we don’t know about babies with Down syndrome; there are a lot of valuable nutrients in breast milk yet to be discovered. A special baby needs special parenting–beginning with breastfeeding.
Typically babies with Down syndrome have a hypotonic (low tone, weak) suck requiring lots of support, training, and patience until mother and baby get the hang of it. It is possible that not until two weeks will the baby open his eyes and become more receptive to breastfeeding. Until then do what you can to get him latched on. It can be a very scary time, and you might fear that he might never breastfeed well. You may have to initiate most of the feedings. If you wait for the baby to “demand,” he may never gain weight.
For the first two weeks you may have to pump several times a day and syringe and finger feed the baby one ounce before each breastfeeding to “suck train” him. Hopefully doing this you may see how well the baby makes up for lost time.
Though most babies with Down syndrome have a more difficult breastfeeding start and need to be taught to breastfeed, they do eventually learn these kills. The profound benefit make the extra work worthwhile. Be sure to contact a lactation consultant who has experience working with babies with Down syndrome.
All of the tips for attachment parenting have magnified benefits for babies with special needs. Constant contact through sharing sleep, breastfeeding, and baby wearing gives you the boost needed for bonding with your baby. Join a support group to help get you excited about your baby. As he gains weight and breastfeed, you will find that you can stop worrying about hi and begin enjoying him. You may discover one day that he responds to high-pitched baby talk from you. Don’t let worry keep you from relating to him in a normal way. They are similar in many ways to normal babies. Every baby is to be valued, no matter what his or her handicap might be.
The Baby with Cleft Lip or Palate
Babies with a cleft lip or palate pose a special challenge to the breastfeeding mother, but the benefits of breastfeeding are worth the investment. The location and severity of the clift will determine whether bay can learn to breastfeed effectively and which positions and techniques you should use. Mothers of babies with a cleft lip or palate should obtain professional help from a lactation consultant by the second day after birth. Choose a lactation consultant who has some experience helping babies with clefts breastfeed.
A baby with a cleft lip may or may not have difficult forming a seal on the breast. If baby does have trouble, mother’s soft breast tissue will fill in some of the space at the cleft, and mother’s thumb can close off the rest of the gap, allowing baby to suck normally. Clefts are repaired in stages in the early months. Some surgeons feel that breastfeeding immediately after the surgery does not interfere with healing; others may insist that you pump you milk and feed it to your baby with a special device until the repair has healed.
A baby with a small cleft of the soft palate may be able to nurse with few problems, but a baby with a more extensive cleft may not be able to breastfeed at all. Because of the opening in the palate, a baby with a cleft palate cannot use section to keep the breast in his mouth, and with part of the hard palate missing, it is difficult for baby to milk the breast with pressure from his tongue. Milk may run into baby’s nose and ears. A lactation consultant can help you evaluate the problems your baby has with breastfeeding and suggest solutions. Even if your baby is unable to breastfeed, you can still pump milk and feed it to him in other ways. yarra valley chauffeur