Making the choice to breastfeed is one of the best decisions a mother can do for her newborn baby. The health benefits for the baby are enormous and that is just in regards to the baby’s health. The mother’s health also benefits from breastfeeding.
For the mother, breastfeeding has been shown to lower the chances of her developing breast and ovarian cancer. It has also been shown to help ward off against depression. For the baby, breastfeeding has been shown to make the immune system stronger, fight illness and infections, and also helps lower the chances the baby will have of being obese when he or she is an adult.
When a mother breastfeeds, what she puts into her body and does to her body matters just as much as it did during pregnancy. Living a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle is crucial to not only the mother’s health, but the baby’s health as well. There are many things that a woman should do when she breastfeeds, but there are also some things she should never do when breastfeeding. These things that should not be done can interfere with her baby’s health, the amount of milk the mother produces, and the mother’s general health as well.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
When a woman breastfeeds, many of the things she puts on and into her body pass through her bloodstream and into the baby’s milk supply. Whenever a woman abuses drugs and alcohol, these will pass on to her baby. The child can suffer serious health issues from these, including: irritability, trouble gaining weight, severe colic, heart problems, blood pressure fluctuations, and so much more. Substance abuse and breastfeeding is never a good thing and can cause serious health issues not only for the mother, but for the baby as well. The mother who abuses drugs and alcohol may also notice a drop in the amount of milk she is able to make. She can also become incapable of properly raising her child.
Tobacco smoking is very harmful during pregnancy and it continues to be harmful for the infant when the mother breastfeeds. However, a mother can still smoke and provide her baby with the benefits of breast milk by taking some simple precautions. Whenever the mother needs to smoke, she should always smoke elsewhere from the baby, preferably outside of the house. She should also never smoke during a breastfeeding session, as the smoke can cause the baby to have breathing issues and it also runs the risk of ashes falling on the baby. The mother should also try to limit how much and how often she smokes, as this will limit the baby’s exposure to second-hand smoking.
Undercooked meats should be avoided when breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother should always try to order her foods completely cooked, or try to find healthy vegetarian alternatives. Many websites and books tell breastfeeding women to avoid sushi. However, there are several very healthy vegetarian sushi dishes that nearly every sushi restaurant can prepare.
Fish is not completely bad for breastfeeding women. In fact, fish is quite healthy for them. It provides them with a high amount of Omega-3 and fats that the mother can use to produce high-quality breast milk for her child. However, consumption of fish should be limited to no more than 12oz.a week. The reason for this is that some fish can contain high levels of mercury. A high level of mercury can be extremely damaging to the nervous system for anyone, especially infants. Certain fish that should be avoided when breastfeeding are: swordfish, shark, tuna, and mackerel.
Caffeine should be limited to very little, if any, when breastfeeding. Consuming high amounts of caffeine can cause the baby to appear hyper and irritable. It is safe to consume small amounts of caffeine when breastfeeding, but the lesser the amount, the better. Most doctors recommend that breastfeeding mothers should consume no more than 2 to 3 cups of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda a day, total. However, if the mother has already been practicing this during pregnancy, it is really not that hard to continue this practice post-pregnancy.
Breastfeeding can be very fulfilling for most mothers. The mother knows that she is giving her baby a better start in life. Breastfeeding also allows the mother to bond with her baby in a way that is not obtainable when the mother chooses to bottle feed instead.
If a mother is interested in breastfeeding, she should consult with her doctor and find out how much her doctor recommends she eat, what kinds of foods she should eat, and other things she should do or avoid. Most doctors are very encouraging of breastfeeding and have no issue with discussing the best ways a mother can go about breastfeeding.