Myths Vs Realities: Mother & Child Care

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A mother should wash with warm water the day after giving birth. and then daily baths. The custom of not bathing for weeks following childbirth can lead to infections

Dr. R.S Dahiya, Professor, PGIMS Rohtak (Retired)

Questions and answers on some folk beliefs and home remedies.

HF: Is it true that when a baby has diarrhea and the ‘soft spot’ on top of his head sinks inward, it means the baby will die unless he gets special treatment?

Dr. Dahiya: This is often true . The ‘soft -spot sinks because the baby has lost too much liquid . Unless he gets more liquid soon, he may die.

HF: Is it true that if the light of the eclipsing moon falls on a pregnant mother , her child will be born deformed or retarded?
Dr. Dahiya: This is not true. But the child may be born retarded, deaf, or deformed if mother does not use iodised salt, if she takes certain medicines , or other reasons.

HF: Is it true that mothers should give birth in a darkened room?
Dr. Dahiya. It is true that soft light is easier on the eyes of both mother and the new born child. But there should be enough light for the midwife to see what she is doing and the room should be ventilated(all doors and windows are closed in many places for several days. )

HF: Is it true that the watery milk that is produced for the first two days after the baby is born, is bad for the baby?
Dr. Dahiya: This is not true. The watery milk is called colostrum and is very good for the baby. Colostrum has a lot of protein and antibodies which protect the baby against infection.

HF: How many days after giving birth should a mother wait before she bathes?
Dr. Dahiya: A mother should wash with warm water the day after giving birth. and then daily baths. The custom of not bathing for weeks following childbirth can lead to infections . Private parts should be washed more frequently with water in which neem leaves have been boiled.

HF: Is it true that traditional breast feeding is better than ‘modern’ bottle feeding ?
Dr. Dahiya: True ! Breast milk is better food and also helps protect the baby against infections.

HF: What foods women should avoid in the first few weeks after child birth?
Dr. Dahiya: In the weeks following childbirth , women should not avoid any nutritious foods. Instead, they should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, milk ,eggs and meat. Special foods are given traditionally to decrease infection and increase milk .

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