Breastfeeding is the best form of feeding for the newborn, and for babies with Down syndrome it is no different. Breastfeeding also has extra benefits in feeding these children.
On our site we tell you what the Benefits of Breast Milk for Babies with Down Syndrome and what difficulties can occur when breastfeeding.
- Breast milk is a extra protection against external infections and gastrointestinal problems, which in the case of babies with Down syndrome may appear more frequently.
- Breastfeeding favors and stimulates coordination and movement of the tongue, in addition to strengthening the jaw muscles, which is an advantage for their development and future language development.
- Breastfeeding promotes correct gastrointestinal transit, which in these babies often poses problems. Babies and children with Down syndrome have a tendency to constipation, and, given the easy digestion of breast milk and that most of its nutrients are almost completely absorbed, it helps to prevent and even avoid it, at least during the exclusive breastfeeding period.
- The act of breastfeeding is a extra encouragement for babies, but it also establishes a close bond between mother and baby that is extremely beneficial for babies with Down syndrome, helping their neurological development.
- Babies with Down syndrome usually have low muscle tone known medically as hypotonia, that is, their motor skills are normally delayed compared to other children of the same age. Hypotonia makes the establishment of lactation more difficultThese babies tend to be more lethargic and need more stimulation, not only at the beginning but most likely throughout breastfeeding.
- Its suction capacity is reduced, due in part to hypotonia, and also their ability to coordinate tongue movement and swallowing is limited, making the progress of lactation difficult.
- The size of your tongue, larger than that of other babies, and its shorter neck, may also be one more test to overcome when establishing lactation.
- Some babies with Down syndrome may have heart problems, which makes them tire more easily, and they need to breastfeed more frequently and for shorter periods.
Overcome the initial challenge, little or a lot, the time that the baby is able to breastfeed is a great benefit for his present and his future.
It can be very helpful to consult a lactation consultant to help position the baby at the breast, since babies with Down syndrome, due to low muscle tone and lack of coordination, may have choking problems in certain positions , especially if the ejection reflex is strong. As time passes and muscle tone improves, the baby will be able to adjust the position on his own, but in the meantime he may need extra help.
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