The Health Promotion Board (HPB) supports exclusive breastfeeding from birth to about six months and continued breastfeeding until one year and beyond, because of its benefits for the baby.
But there are situations when infant formula is medically recommended, said Dr Yvonne Ng Peng Mei, senior consultant in the Department of Neonatology at National University Hospital.
A mother who is not able to produce enough breast milk, has HIV, is undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or is too ill to care for her baby should use infant formula.
Breastfeeding in the first two weeks after birth can also be challenging, which may be discouraging, Dr Ng said. Common issues include ineffective latching on, which makes it difficult to determine if the baby is getting enough milk, and nipple soreness.
But mothers should not give up breastfeeding as these problems can be managed, she said.
Nurses in maternity units offer guidance on breastfeeding and women can turn to other mothers and peer counsellors from community groups like Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group and Joyful Parenting. The HPB also provides a Healthy Start For Your Baby guide to every parent.
If uncertain about whether a breastfed baby is getting enough milk, parents should seek the assistance of healthcare professionals, said Dr Ng.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Photo and graphics: The Straits Times)