Diet and nutrition

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.

Mamas on Bedrest: Are You Getting the Nutrition You Need?

September 2nd, 2014

Hello Mamas,

Are you getting the nutrition you need? As many of you settle into your bed rest routines, it can be very easy to skip meals (especially breakfast! Don’t do it!!!), snack a lot and give into many of those crazy cravings as a way to soothe your “sorrow” over your bed rest experience. I want to reiterate, this is no time to be slack with your nutrition! Mamas on Bedrest are at increased risk of insufficient weight gain and low birth weight infants. Because Mamas on Bedrest are physically inactive and confined to bed, they are less apt to take in some essential nutrients like Vitamin D (Vitamin D is manufactured in your body by converting the suns rays along with Cholesterol into the vitamin) and they may require additional Calcium to not only support the pregnancy, but to support mama’s bones as she is not able to do any weight bearing exercise (even walking with a light grocery bag is load bearing exercise!) during pregnancy.

As always, it is best to receive necessary nutrients from a well balanced, nutrient dense diet. Karimums, an Australian support website for mamas, has provided the following infographic which outlines the necessary nutrients and amounts needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy. The infographic also shows the foods that can help meet these nutritional needs. Here is a copy of the info graphic:

 

karimums-infographic

And while this infographic is a great reminder of the nutritional needs of pregnant mamas, it also shows that it may be difficult to consume enough foods to take in the necessary nutrients. Hence, I want to reiterate the vital importance of prenatal vitamins. This is always a controversial topic, but one of vital importance. One look at this infographic and a mama on bedrest may say to herself, “There is no way that I can eat 18 cups of raw spinach a day! While this may be true (and we don’t want to discourage mama from eating spinach at all!!) mama still needs the folic acid, and taking a pharmaceutical grade prenatal vitamin will enable mama to get the vital nutrition she and her baby need without having to consume an entire spinach garden daily!

I want to add a note about prenatal nutrition here. Nature has designed it so that when a woman becomes pregnant, the first nutrients that are available to her body are directed towards the baby for its growth and development. Ideally, a woman is taking in enough nutrient foods to support herself and her baby. But if mama happens to be deficient, let’s say, in calcium, when her body takes in calcium it is first directed to the growing baby and any left over is then used to sustain mama. So if a woman is calcium deficient or not taking in enough calcium to sustain both herself and her baby, she will suffer. To this end, I have personally seen women develop cavities during pregnancy (Calcium aids in good dental health!) and in an extreme case, a woman was osteopenic (had low bone mass density) after her pregnancy.

Mamas, eat well. Use the infographic above to fortify your diet. If you are not already taking a high grade prenatal vitamin, discuss with your health care provider if you need prenatal vitamins and which ones might be best for you. E-mail info@mamasonbedrest.com and we can share with you pharmaceutical grade prenatal vitamins that will supply the nutrients your body needs to serve you and your baby! Also, check out “From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest” as we have an entire section dedicated to prenatal nutrition and vitamins! Download your copy now from Amazon.com!