Health Maintenance

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!


MD Anderson Center

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



Mamas on Bedrest: “Shedding Pounds After Gaining a Baby!”

June 29th, 2015

Hello Mamas!

The tagline for this business is “It’s all about mamas!” I am as interested in your success as mamas as I am in you having a successful pregnancy. I am always happy to hear of mamas using what they learned during their pregnancies, what they know for sure as a result of having been pregnant, and what they want to share with the world now that they are “seasoned” mamas.

Emmi WilesToday I share with you an interview that I had with a good friend of mine and new mama, Emmi Wiles. Emmi and I met in a woman’s program offered at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, and I have had the great pleasure to witness Emmi’s journey from loving daughter who graciously loved her father through his passage from this life, to newlywed and now to mama (FYI Emmi was not on bedrest!!).

Emmi is also a talented artisan and creates all manner of art that she will be sharing on her etsy page. (Stay tuned and stay in touch with her for more art adventures!!) But for now, she is a full time, hands on mama to a little 6 month old boy who is her inspiration for her latest blog, “Shedding Pounds After Gaining a Baby”. The blog is Emmi’s chronicle of her motherhood journey and how she is doing her best to weave motherhood into womanhood. It’s a delightful read and I hope you will all take some time to stop by and give Emmi encouragement. For now, listen to how
“Shedding Pounds After Gaining a Baby” was birthed and share you comments in the comments section below.


Mamas, Have you created something new as a result of your pregnancy? Would you like to share it with other mamas? Please share details of your new venture/adventure with and tell is what’s up. We’d love to hear and support you!

Mamas on Bedrest: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate??

December 16th, 2013

vaccine The Vaccine debate is back in the news and heating up with the realization that diseases that were once “eradicated” are now back and on the rise. Many are calling for mandatory vaccination, which could be helpful but I believe further divisive in an already divisive and contentious debate. Personally, my view is “Don’t mandate, educate!” So let’s take a look at what’s been going on.

My parents both got the small pox vaccine as children and each have marks on their shoulders 70+ years later. I think my oldest sister also got that shot (born 1958). My other sister (born 1961) and I were the new generation in vaccination. I was born in 1965 and I can remember going to the doctor, getting the little drops of syrup under my tongue (oral polio vaccine courtesy of Dr. Albert Sabin, FDA approved 1962. An earlier shot was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, FDA approved 1955, ) and shots for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. When I was in 5th grade, the trivalent Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine was approved and I got that shot. As you can guess from my age, I had chicken pox (twice and still have a couple of scars!) as there was no vaccine for that then.

Today, there are shots for just about every disease imaginable, and while it’s good that we can prevent many of these deadly diseases, many parents are concerned that vaccines are somehow doing harm to their children, namely putting them at risk for autism. This claim spread like wildfire in 1998 with the publication of a “Study” in The Lancet by Dr. Andrew Wakefield stating a causative effect between vaccine administration and autism. It was all over the news and on all major talk shows. Parents of autistic children were lamenting their decisions to vaccinate their children while the medical community lamented the rise in the number of children not being vaccinated. The study was later discredited as its results could not be reproduced and the article pulled from publication. But the line had already been drawn in the sand and the proponents and opponents of vaccination stood staunchly on their respective sides.

On December 3, 2013, Brian Krans published an article on the effects of the anti-vaccine movement in the US and abroad in the online journal Healthline. In the article, Krans notes the rise in measles, polio and whooping cough and notes that there is an epidemic of polio in Pakistan due to the prohibition of the vaccine by the Taliban. Despite the FDA approval of the HPV shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that far fewer people of age are receiving the shot than expected.

So what is the answer? It certainly seems that we are trying to prevent everything and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When my children were babies, they received Hepatitis B shots (a vaccine to prevent Hep B infection, an infection spread via blood and body fluids and a series I took as a health care provider years ago!) even before they left the hospital. While I was not averse to them getting that vaccine series, did they need it at one day old and without my permission? They have both had chicken pox vaccines and my daughter is scheduled to have the meningococcal and HPV vaccines. How is a parent to know if these vaccines are necessary and if they are safe for your infants or tweens?

I’m going to go on the record to say that I am a proponent of vaccines. But I will also say that I did a lot of research on the vaccines my children received and have held off at times when I could. For example, my daughter was a preemie, so we held off on giving her too many vaccines at one time. It made it so that she had a couple of extra office visits as a baby, but I preferred that to her receiving multiple shots at 8 weeks. Additionally, since she was a preemie, it was important for her to receive the Haemophilus influenzae (HiB) vaccine as this is the pathogen that causes most respiratory and ear infections in tiny babies.

Yet, I have decided to hold off on giving her the HPV vaccine at this time. (Yes, I hear the gasps!!). Currently, the HPV Vaccine or Gardasil is recommended for girls and boys age 11 for the prevention of the Human Papilloma Virus, the virus that causes genital warts and many forms of genital cancer. The 3 shot series does in fact prevent against the 4 most prevalent types of HPV (6,11,16,18) but there is some controversy regarding side effects (rheumatoid like disorders and a Guillane-Barre like syndrome) and some question as to whether the vaccine is still active after 8 years. I want to see more data regarding the “adverse side effects” and her likelihood of having a negative response and I want to see if more data comes out about the longterm efficacy (and safety) of the vaccine. So for now, I am tabling this shot until she is 13 and will again discuss with her father at that time whether or not she will have the vaccine.

Now I know many people reading this post are furious-either because I am speaking out in favor of vaccines in general, or because I have elected to hold off on giving my daughter the HPV vaccine now at age 11. But this is the crux of this post: Every parent needs to look at all the data and publications, weigh the pros and cons within the context of their lives and their beliefs and make a decision.

Should vaccines be mandated? I personally don’t believe in mandating anything unless its an immediate life and death situation. However, rather than mandate, educate. For those who are in favor of vaccines (health care providers, public health officials, etc…) hold free public forums and educate the public as to why you think a given vaccine (or vaccination in general) is important. Use language and supporting materials that everyday people can understand. Provide the tools and information needed so that parents can make wise and informed health care decisions for their children and their families. (And informed isn’t, “I’m doing this because the doctor said so. It’s “I’ve had a chance to learn about this and I think it’s the best option.)

Many reading this may think that I have taken an idealistic view of this  whole vaccine debate. Some will think that I wimped out by giving into “the system” and “big pharma” and others will think that I am a “hippie lunatic” encouraging people not to have their children (or themselves) vaccinated. I am neither. I am a health care advocate. I think that everyone must make their own decisions. And it behooves the health care industry and pharmaceutical companies to provide information and opportunities for consumers to gather information and learn what is available to them so that they can make informed health care decisions, and for opponents to present reasonable, evidence-based opposition to the contrary (not empassioned pleas or belligerant protests!).

Will you vaccinate your child (children)? Share your perspective on this empassioned debate in our comments section below.