Mum knew her milk was the best choice for Zoë
Jelena Vukmirović, the mother of an 18-month-old girl, talks about her experience with and the benefits of breastfeeding
Podgorica, 6 July 2022 – Zoë liked breastfeeding, and her mum had enough milk. Nevertheless, their first days upon leaving the maternity ward were not without problems.
“She was crying, and I started to panic because I did not know if she was hungry, how much milk she was really having or how much she needed,” Jelena Vukmirović, mother of an 18-month-old girl, recalls.
She decided not to give up and to seek help. “I called the lactation consultants, and they explained that I should do my best and continue to breastfeed because the more the baby feeds, the more milk will be produced,” she says.
Although she gave birth to Zoë by caesarean section, Jelena started breastfeeding immediately and had no problems with her breasts. “In the beginning, breastfeeding can be unpleasant; it is a bit painful if you do not manage to put the entire nipple in the baby’s mouth. However, I went to a breastfeeding school, and the home-visiting nurse explained to me how to take care of my breasts, to apply the recommended creams and ointments, so the feeling of discomfort passed quickly.”
She is expecting her second child, and when asked if she would breastfeed again, she says:
“Of course, I will. Each of my sisters breastfed their children, and it comes quite naturally to me.”
Mum and Zoë were often in the park during their first months together. Jelena then saw the great benefits of breastfeeding because she was able to breastfeed whenever and wherever she wanted.
“Milk is always available, at the ideal temperature, so you do not need to heat the water or get up at night. It is free and the healthiest choice for my child.”
According to the latest data, one in five children in Montenegro is exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. A much larger number of babies could be exclusively breastfed, but in order for that to happen, it is necessary to provide:
- Breastfeeding education for future mothers and fathers;
- Professional support for breastfeeding – starting from the maternity ward, paediatricians and home-visiting nurses;
- A supportive environment (e.g. support in the family and broader social community, breastfeeding in public places);
- Abolition of existing practices of unethical marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Experts say that breastfeeding has a favourable effect on the development of the child’s brain and jaw and their cognitive development. Breastfed children are less likely to suffer from respiratory infections, ear infections, intestinal and urinary infections, eczema and asthma. They are at a lower risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from ovarian and breast cancer, osteoporosis and postpartum depression.
For these reasons, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF recommends and supports breastfeeding.
Dr. Biljana Raičević-Fuštar, a paediatrician from the Primary Healthcare Centre in Podgorica, highlights the importance of the support that mothers should enjoy from their closest environment and health workers.
“Regular visits to the counselling centre facilitate the establishing of close contact full of trust so that the mother can communicate all her fears and doubts to the paediatrician without fear of being criticized,” Dr. Raičević-Fuštar says.
She reminds that UNICEF and the World Health Organization recommend that mothers start breastfeeding within the first hour after the birth of the child and continue to exclusively breastfeed their babies during the first six months of the child’s life, without introducing other drinks or food. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue as long as the child and mother want it.
In addition to the support coming from health workers, the Bebbo mobile app has recently become available to mothers. Among other things, it provides reliable information and advice on breastfeeding and infant nutrition. The app is free and available on GooglePlay and the Apple Store.
The Early Childhood Development programme is financed by the European Union and implemented by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.