Breastfeeding

Mamas on Bedrest: How Does Breastfeeding Help Prevent Breast Cancer-REALLY??

October 14th, 2015

nursing infantHello Mamas!!

I am sure that we are all well aware by now of the benefits of breastfeeding for infants. Human breastmilk is the perfect food for infants because,

  • It has the proper amount of nutrients and adapts to the nutrition needs of the infantIt is easily digested,
  • It requires no preparation or special storage,
  • It is is always the right temperature (when directly from the breast).
  • Babies that are breastfed are less likely to have ear infections
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies and asthma and if they do have allergies and asthma the conditions tend to be less severe
  • Breastfed babies have a reduced incidence of developing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Breastfed children have a lower incidence of obesity

With all of these great benefits for children, you’d think that we here in the US would be jumping through all sorts of hoops to make sure that ALL mamas breastfeed their babies. There has been a lot of information distributed and I think that more mamas are breastfeeding their infants-at least for the first few months of life. However, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states,

“In 2011, 79% of newborn infants started to breastfeed. Yet breastfeeding did not continue for as long as recommended. Of infants born in 2011, 49% were breastfeeding at 6 months and 27% at 12 months.”

So while we are seeing improvement, we still have a ways to go to reach the Healthy People 2020 goal of approximately 82% of infants being exclusively breastfed at birth. Yet, would these numbers change if mamas knew the benefits of breastfeeding on their health, in particular on their risks of developing breast cancer?

Rachel King, a health education specialist in MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center reports:

“Research shows mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. And, breastfeeding longer than the recommended six months can provide additional protection.”

Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth. In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue. “This shedding can help remove cells with potential DNA damage, thus helping to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer,” King adds.

Breastfeeding also can help lower your ovarian cancer risk by preventing ovulation. And the less you ovulate, the less exposure to estrogen and abnormal ovarian cells that could become cancer.

So EXACTLY how can mamas lower their breast (and ovarian) cancer risks by breastfeeding?

  1. Have their babies before age 30
  2. Breastfeed for at least 6 months
  3. Get education and support from a lactation consultant
  4. Take Breastfeeding classes
  5. Get the support of family, friends and employers
  6. Ask employers for quiet, private places to pump

Breastfeeding is not chic nor a trend. Breastfeeding is the natural way that human babies were intended to be fed. Now we know that breastfeeding is beneficial not only to babies but also protective against breast cancer for mamas. What other incentives do we need? Let’s do this, Mamas!

October is Breast cancer awareness month. Mamas, If you have questions about breast cancer, have a family history of breast cancer or want to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, start by breastfeeding your infant for at least 6 months. For more information, speak with your health care provider, consult with a lactation consultant and check out the information below (This is just a sample of what is available and what was cited in this post. For sure there is more information available!!). As always, you can post your questions and comments below for a ready reply!

References:

DrWeil.com

MD Anderson Center

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-US Breastfeeding Report Card 2014

 

  

Mamas on Bedrest: (Breast) Milk-It Does a Body Good!

August 4th, 2015

wbw2015-logo-m2Hello Mamas!

It’s August and that means it’s National Breastfeeding Month here in the United States, and August 1-7, 2015 is World Breastfeeding Week! There is a lot of hubbub about breastfeeding in the US news. Advocates encourage women to reap the benefits of breastfeeding for themselves and their babies, while those less “enthusiastic” about public breastfeeding press for a more austere approach to this timeless practice.

Breastfeeding is a completely natural event and most all animal species breastfeed their young. Mamas of most species will breastfeed their young until the young are mature enough to eat adult food, then breastfeeding stops and the offspring eats with the rest of the pack/herd. Animals get everything nutrient and immune defense they need from their mamas.

Young animals do have an advantage over human infants, though. While most young animals will become mature enough to stop nursing in a matter of months, human infants, if nursed to the extent that nature intended, would nurse for up to 5 years! So I understand it when some mamas say that they don’t want to nurse that long. Breastmilk is a remarkable substance. When a mama breastfeeds, her body miraculously creates breastmilk with just the right nutrient balance, just the right consistency and just the right amount for the growing infant. In fact, as the infant grows, the consistency, composition and amount of breastmilk changes to meet the needs of the growing infant. And while developing the skill and finesse needed to breastfeed with ease does often take some practice, once mastered, mama and baby are free to go without the hassle of worrying about carrying bottles, formula, or worrying about keeping the breastmilk fresh or warming it up for baby to drink.

So when women tell me that they don’t want to breastfeed, I have to admit, I am always a bit taken aback; They want to forgo all those nutrients, all that convenience, all the immune system and developmental benefits…? But we all have to remember, It is a mama’s right to decide what is the best way for her to feed her baby. Yet it is my sincere hope that every woman will at least attempt to breastfeed her infant-even if only for a few weeks-in order to give her baby this most beneficial nourishment.

Why am I such a strong proponent of breastfeeding? Because of its benefits for both mamas and babies.

Research suggests that breastfed babies have lower risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Childhood obesity
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zing) enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes

But the benefits don’t stop there. Breastfeeding also has significant benefits for mamas! Breastfeeding leads to a lower risks of :

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • In some women, breastfeeding speeds pregnancy weight loss
  • Breastfeeding has been associated with reduced rates of Post Partum Depression

While almost all research sources, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Practice, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization and many other national and international organizations recommend breastfeeding exclusively for at least 6 months, but preferably for one year, again, every woman has to make the decision that is best for her and her baby. So that women can make informed decisions, here are some resources about breastfeeding.

Resources

La Leche League

The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies

WomensHealth.gov

The American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Family Practice

Mamas on Bedrest: 6 Months for Solids

June 1st, 2015

Hello Mamas,

Last week I posted an article on our Facebook Page published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the article, the CDC reported that more than 40% of American infants are started on solids too early, many before 4 months of age. Reasons for starting solid foods ranged from “My baby seemed hungry” to “I wanted him to sleep through the night.”

This one post has received some 2500 hits on our FB page alone. Since it resonated so much with so many people, I felt it prudent to highlight the particulars of the publication and to clearly state why it isn’t a good idea to start infants on solid foods before 6 months of age.