Post- Delivery Care
Breastfeeding in babies with Down syndrome is vital as breastfeeding can help in certain ways:
- It increases muscle tone in the mouth and jaw which can help improve speech later on.
- It helps with digestion, as nutrients are more readily absorbed which the baby needs. This is important as Down syndrome babies often have bowel difficulties.
- It helps develop the neural connection in the brain through skin-to-skin contact of mother and child.
It is important to note that due to low muscle tone which is one of the features of Down syndrome; they may have some extra difficulties latching on to the breast. They also may be sleepier and will probably doze off while breastfeeding, therefore constant vigilance needs to be observed while feeding.
It is important to have your baby tested soon after birth for any health problem (this could be eye, ear, heart or thyroid related). Regular visits to the doctor will help identify any problems if any and tackle them on time. This should be on a continual basis because children with Down syndrome are more susceptible to respiratory difficulties, heart defects, digestive issues, hearing loss and vision problems. This, however, do not affect all children with Down’s.
As your child develops it is important to ensure that they are provided with support and therapy. Physical and speech therapy is often required. Older kids and even sometimes in adulthood occupational therapy might to necessary to help teach job skills and help them live on their own. Counselling may be of assistance in dealing with social and emotional issues.
Preparing for and raising a child with Down syndrome can be a fulfilling experience. This journey is laden with challenges but doubly filled with rewards. Children with Down syndrome can and do have a greater quality of life today. Their life expectancy is also longer now, more than ever before. They live rich, fulfilled lives just as anyone possibly can with rich social experiences, successful careers and marriages. A journey of motherhood with a child with Down syndrome is one that is usually filled with immense love, compassion and encompassing joy for everyone involved in the child’s life. Just remember although the journey might be intimidating, it is fulfilling in every facet. Remember to take time for yourself when needed.