By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
“Breast is best” emphasised Dr Adeline Tan, Consultant Paediatrician at KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital on the subject of baby care. “In fact we encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies within one hour of birth. Even in the case of babies delivered by Caesarean section: most caesareans are carried out under spinal anaesthesia so the mother is conscious, we place baby on her chest to allow baby the opportunity for the first suckle on her breasts even while she is being stitched up,” she added.
According to Dr Adeline, this first contact within the first hour is a precious one. The bonding with the mother is immediate and her breast milk is immediately stimulated. This ‘skin to skin’ contact between mother and baby is vital for stabilising temperature, blood glucose and bonding especially in the case of pre-term babies.
KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital (KPJ ISH) became a ‘Baby Friendly’ hospital in 2004 and with the support of hospital administrators, medical staff and Paediatricians like Dr. Adeline, KPJ ISH goes to great lengths to maintain this ‘baby friendly’ status (verified by assessments by the government health authorities) and is the only private hospital in Perak to achieve this baby friendly hospital status.
So what does being ‘baby friendly’ entail I asked Dr Adeline? “Well, it means that we encourage mums to maintain breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and to continue breastfeeding for at least 2 years. We do not promote any particular infant formula or allow milk brands to be advertised in the hospital but we focus our attention on safe practices for babies. For example, we have fully trained staff and a full time lactation nurse to teach mothers how to breastfeed and how to express their milk if babies are separated from them. There are facilities for safe storage of breastmilk in the maternity and paediatric wards,” she replied. “We also encourage babies to room-in with their mothers day and night so that mum can recognize the feeding cues in baby and to breastfeed baby on demand (baby-led feeding) and especially at night when milk production is highest,” Dr Adeline added.
Dr Adeline graduated with MBBS (with Distinction) from University of Malaya in 1984 and received her training in Paediatrics in University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, completing her Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (Paediatrics) in Edinburgh, UK in 1988. She spent 10 years at University Hospital in Kuala Lumpur where she worked as a lecturer from 1988, being involved in the treatment of childhood cancers and bone marrow transplants under the tutelage of Prof Lin Hai Peng who pioneered bone marrow transplants in Malaysia. She moved to Ipoh in 1994 and has been practising general paediatrics in KPJ ISH ever since.
Her passion for spreading the message for mothers to breastfeed stems not only from WHO and UNICEF guidelines which encourage mothers to breastfeed infants till at least 2 years of age but from her own personal experience, having enjoyed being able to breastfeed her 3 children despite work commitments.
“Breastfed babies are healthier with less respiratory and ear infections. Human milk provides the ideal and complete nutrition to meet the infant’s need for growth and development. Human milk contains the bifidus factor to prevent harmful bacteria growing in baby’s intestine, living white blood cells and antibodies which fight against infection to which baby’s mother has been exposed and growth factors that enhance baby’s immune system.” she enthused.
“Breast milk also reduces the risk of allergies like eczema and asthma. Furthermore, breastfeeding is convenient and cheap! And babies who are breastfed exclusively for at least 6 months have higher IQ scores.”
Dr Adeline also stressed that the benefits of breastfeeding also apply to the mother. Oxytocin that is released while breastfeeding, contracts the uterus and helps to reduce bleeding after delivery; postnatal depression is reduced and breastfeeding mothers lose excess weight faster.
So for all you potential mothers out there, take heed of Dr Adeline’s advice and give your babies the best start in life – your own breastmilk.
A booklet entitled ‘The Successful Breastfeeding Guide” is available from the hospital which lists names of Breastfeeding Counsellors and Support Group members with their telephone numbers on the back page. This comprehensive guide has all the information on the subject of breastfeeding.Dr Adeline Tan Ai Lin Klinik Kanak-Kanak David,Suite 2-02 & 2-03, KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital, 26 Jalan Raja DiHilir, 30350 Ipoh. Clinic hours: Monday to Friday 9am – 1pm, 2.30pm – 5pm; Saturday 9 am – 1pm Tel: 05-240877 ext. 121, 05-2415752 (direct) for clinic appointments